By the fence

We had gone to ride yesterday afternoon at a friends nearby indoor arena. Grateful for the warmth of the barn and of the horses underneath us, it was not a problem to stay at length and enjoy the time.

It didn’t take long however, after walking out of the barn to unsaddle, that I was back to not being able to feel my fingers and was shivering. I couldn’t wait to just get back into my car, sit on the heated seat and be warm for the next 20 minutes while I waited for my daughter to wrap up basketball practice. Yet, when I got to the end of their drive and turn toward town, the horses on the other side of the gravel road stopped me in my tracks.  I had to hop back out, say hello and snap a few photos. Love how this one in particular, turned out.

Loiseau's Crew

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Dakota 38 + 2

There has been a ride on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota every year now since 2009. Each winter, not matter how brutal the temperatures or the winds, these riders saddle up and make the trek across the prairie for a cause they believe in. One that moves them at their very core.

Nearing Pipestone

The Dakota 38 + 2.

Passing on the Staff

The ride is open to anyone at any stage of the journey. People come from all over the world to take part. Each leg of the trip, each day, the riders and their support team come through a different town in the hopes they might connect with an increasing number of people willing to open their hearts and minds to the mission. One of remembrance but more importantly of healing and of forgiveness.

Ride Near Pipestone 2

Riding out of Flandreau 2

We are blessed the ride comes through our area. This past year, the Cowboy went for the first time to help shoe and trim horses for the group over at the Flandreau Indian School. It was the first I had ever heard of the ride. We didn’t talk much about it at the time. Months later…

Through the snow

The Dakota 38 +2 documentary http://bit.ly/1cJDUui aired on South Dakota Public Television and by chance, we happened to be doing something we rarely take time to do. Watch TV. We’ve talked a lot about it since.

Steam

The story of the Dakota 38 + 2 is incredibly powerful in and of itself.

But the ride that happens now each year in memory of those lost so many years ago, it is moving. For me, I want to know more. I want to better understand the divide between the Natives and non-Natives in my new home which no one seems to hide or act like it doesn’t exist. I want to help bridge our communities wherever there is a chance. I want to understand what it means to help everyone heal. I want to better understand the Native American culture, all of the different Native American cultures for that matter. I want to better understand a piece of my own family history I’ve only ever seen written on my birth certificate, better understand the culture of the tribe the Cowboy’s family is enrolled in here in South Dakota and better live many of the values of a people and culture that for far too long have been cast aside.

Lone Rider

I’m grateful for even the few lessons I’ve learned from the documentary and the few moments I was able to spend with the group this year. The riders, their support team, could not have been more welcoming. More open. More inviting, willing to talk and to let some stranger in a Prius follow them for just one small part of the ride.Riding Highway 34

Hoar Frost

Was a gorgeous morning here in South Dakota. Captured these moments well after the peak of the hoar frost shining in the morning sun .. still a stunning sight. The shots aren’t great, I didn’t take much time to stop and focus as I had only 13% battery power left on the camera, something I don’t let happen very often. The camera’s been put to some fun use the past week and I haven’t thought to recharge.

Anyway, I snapped the few photos the camera allowed on a whim …

Rain

Rain

Hoar frost

Hoar Frost

DSC05268

The Team

Image

The Team

Been a busy past few weeks between family photography sessions (pictures for those holiday cards!) and an exciting project I was invited to work on with two groups that have inspiring plans for our region. Blessed, but busy. And after writing content for others much of the day, my own content has been lacking. Anyway, have a few photos coming that I’ve grabbed over the past couple weeks thought would be fun to share.

From this past weekend:

There are quite a few area farmers and ranchers who both still actively work with draft horses and who just enjoy having them around. One of them brought a team to town for wagon rides during a holiday open house. Beautiful. Neither the kids nor the adults who are used to seeing horses around these parts, could get enough of being around them.

The Roost

We were driving through town this morning on our way to pick up a friend of the kids for the day .. and on our way, we passed the old granary in town. It’s a cold, gray and rainy November day but love how it made this whole scene appear.

Pigeons atop one of the old granaries in downtown Flandreau.

Pigeons atop one of the old granaries in downtown Flandreau.

What I Love About Sunday

We had wanted to go to church this morning .. but the Cowboy needed to get on the road before we would have been able to return from town. He was leaving to get to a rally for a man he’s grown rather fond of, a man quite honestly we now consider a friend, who is entering officially today the race for U.S Senate.

We stayed home instead, sat down to coffee and breakfast together and logged onto last week’s service from my home church in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a poignant message for us ..

While I still feel incredibly connected to my home church of Blackhawk, a church where upwards of five thousand people attend each Sunday, where it could feel easy to get lost but I’m not sure anyone does, where there is this incredible team of pastors that I miss terribly because their message each week is somehow spot on and where the music just moves you .. finding a new home church here in South Dakota has been heartwarming. Our Sundays, when we are home, have become a mix of attending a nearby contemporary Christian church .. and this wonderful small church in Flandreau that reminds me so much of the church I grew up in back home.

I miss Blackhawk.

But there is just something about a small town church .. and Sundays here on our little acreage, that I love having dearly again in my life.

What I Love About Sunday

What I Love About Sunday

What I Love About Sunday – Craig Morgan

Raymond’s in his Sunday best,

He’s usually up to his chest in oil an’ grease.
There’s the Martin’s walkin’ in,
With that mean little freckle-faced kid,
Who broke a window last week.
Sweet Miss Betty likes to sing off key in the pew behind me.

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Sing along as the choir sways;
Every verse of Amazin’ Grace,
An’ then we shake the Preacher’s hand.
Go home, into your blue jeans;
Have some chicken an’ some baked beans.
Pick a back yard football team,
Not do much of anything:
That’s what I love about Sunday.

I stroll to the end of the drive,
Pick up the Sunday Times, grab my coffee cup.
It looks like Sally an’ Ron, finally tied the knot,
Well, it’s about time.
It’s 35 cents off a ground round,
Baby, cut that coupon out!

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Cat-napping on the porch swing;
You curled up next to me,
The smell of jasmine wakes us up.
Take a walk down a back road,
Tackle box and a cane pole;
Carve our names in that white oak,
steal a kiss as the sun fades,
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

Ooh, new believers gettin’ baptized,
Momma’s hands raised up high,
Havin’ a Hallelujah good time
A smile on everybody’s face.
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.