Heavy Frost

The start to winter here in South Dakota has been brutal. Deadly, as many of you know, in some parts.  The snow has been deep west river, the temperatures frigid and the legendary winds have been howling. But more often than not thus far, especially east of the Missouri, the sun has been shining and the weather overall, has been relatively mild.

Cows 2

I couldn’t resist going for a walk with the camera this morning. The sun was trying to break through a heavy frost. The cattle in the field across the way were just barely visible in the mix. Chances are, we won’t have too many more mornings like this.

It’s just beautiful here. While I miss the lakes, rolling hills and bluffs of Wisconsin and the majestic mountains of Montana, I have absolutely fallen in love with the prairie.

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Need a dirt road.

Need a dirt road.

Not to be confused with Makes Me Want to Take a Backroad.  Which is a great song and true to.  Can relate to that as well.  But for now …

When I wrote this it was about 1am and I was trying to unwind.  Had been a long day.  Have had a lot of them lately.  So was listening to music late at night.  And dreaming about how wonderful it would be to just get in the car and take a road trip to one of my favorite places on the face of this earth, Big Sky Country.

Some random thoughts:

Am loving right now, the Band Perry (along with throngs of others, I know).  Have been working on learning All Your Life on the guitar and Backroad from above (but not sure how that song sounds with a chick singing it) along with a bunch of others including a few from one of my favorite bands, Little Jane and the Pistol Whips who I believe are out of Bozeman, MT ..

Talked with the Cowboy for just a few minutes tonight on the video phone.  He was wiped out and was falling asleep as he was also playing guitar.  He figured he better call it a night before it was lights out either way in the armchair.

It’s Rodeo Bible Camp week in SD.  Heard some fun stories last night and was only the first day of camp.  Already done with school, the kids are with him for their first full week – he’s bummed they don’t have more down time together, but they seem to be having run regardless.  The four of them seem so happy to all be together for an extended period of time, and the kids that they are getting to go to camp with their dad.  One of the twins, who until now, has had a tough time getting his rope going in the right direction, gave us a demonstration this morning that he’s got it down and can now do it the way he’s supposed to.  Nothing like the look on a kids face when they realize they’ve learned something and really got it down, and they can now work on improving that skill.  Priceless.

Talked with my own daughter for a bit.  She’s still in school but excited there is now officially less than a week left for the 2012 academic year.  They had picnic lunch today and a presentation of poster boards they put together on a state.  Remember doing those?  She, no surprise, had Montana.  She really wanted me to see a couple others, including the boy’s that she has a crush on and her friend who had South Dakota.  To which she excitedly made some comments about the state, the Cowboy and possible life changes.  I gave her a squeeze, smiled and told the sweet girl who’s project we were looking at great job, and we moved onto the next.

As if I don’t have enough to do .. my workouts are suffering over getting other things that ‘need to get done, done.’  Think I need to find a triathlon this summer and start training.   That usually helps, but I’m not motivated.  Wanted to go to the gym for a swim tonight (last night).  Feeling like schlep that I chose not to and had glass of wine instead while going through paperwork and watching Wisconsin’s historic recall election results and speeches come in.

Feels like trying to get caught up is a never-ending battle.  Or trying to fit everything in, between family, friends, work, each other, etc etc etc .. is never possible without disappointing someone.  The Cowboy and I are trying to figure that out .. as we have events, graduations and various other commitments in towns hours apart this weekend for family and good friends, all of whom are important to us.  But that we know we can’t spend enough time with.  How do you juggle successfully?  Or, do you even try?

Is that ever possible anymore?  Feeling caught up?  Fitting everything in.  Getting things done?  Feeling like the important thing are taken care of so that you can take care of yourself, or your/our family in this case?  We know we could be so much better if we could all be under one roof.

But because for now, that’s not the case ..

Spent awhile last night trying to find the comfort of a dirt road or a small town in the middle of, if not South Dakota with the Cowboy .. Big Sky country (Even Bayfield will do, where I took the photo of my daughter and the Cowboy, below.) .. in my mind at the very least, since it’s the best I can do at the moment.  Looking at a big open sky.  Feeling the gravel and dirt below my feet.  Not seeing anyone or anything for miles.  Feels like there’s room to again breathe.

That whatever it is on the to-do list or that has me stressed isn’t all that big a deal, in fact, it’s small in the grand scheme of things.  And the busyness of the day-to-day is my/our choice.

Maybe I just need a good session of yoga or a massage.  But I like the dirt road theory.

Dirt roads usually take you somewhere more simple.  More quiet.  Calm.  It all re-grounds me.  And has me coming back at it all again today, refreshed.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame ..

I was assigned a story my first summer working as a reporter in Missoula, Montana:

Head to an area about 3 1/2  hours southeast of town, called the Big Hole Valley and catch up with a group of riders on that particular year’s leg of the Chief Joseph trail ride.

Courtesy:  West Yellowstone News

http://www.westyellowstonenews.com/news/article_2a8c9da8-cc3b-11e0-8016-001cc4c002e0.html  (Photo above courtesy:  West Yellowstone News)

And since I was going that far away, yet it was still in our viewing area, I was to come up with a couple additional stories to film while there.

…………………

“I’m looking for Sheila,” I called and asked for the woman I had been reading about was a famous hatter from that area.

http://montanahats.com/category/newsworthy/

“Hang on just a minute,” I remember a woman’s voice on the other end of the line.  I heard the woman call for her.

“This is Sheila,” I’ll never forget the deep, slow and deliberate, sweet yet strong voice that answered a few moments later.

“Sheila, my name is .. ” and I went on to explain who I was and that I was coming to her area to film another series of stories.  I knew she had made the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for her cowboy hat making.  Would she allow me to film a piece on her?  She happily obliged. We agreed on a time and day to meet.  And I believe from the moment I walked in the door to the hat shop that day, we have been friends.

Courtesy: Seattle Ray

Well, actually it was probably more over beer later that night and some dancing at the Antler Saloon..

But friends.

And then it somehow, quickly become more than that.  She and her husband at the time, and her daughters took me in, as family.  Not uncommon for Sheila.  The woman has wrapped her arms around many besides her own children, and made them feel like one of her own. We have visited as often as possible, since.  Spending a lot of weeks and weekends together, a few holidays, moves, weddings, deaths, a graduation, nights around the fire, new babies, a divorce, another wedding ..

You know what I mean, just life.

A lot of life.

And while I’m not sure what Sheila has ever gleaned from me ..  I have at times, besides just enjoying every single moment I’m able to spend with her, leaned on her hard.  Even lately.  She has always been there for me, usually giving me the straight shoot, calling me out on anything necessary, helping me set upright again and always move forward with a better perspective for having spent any time with her.  Teaching me new things.  And some old things I need to be reminded of, like, sometimes it’s important to slow down and appreciate this life.  I tell her, usually in-between laughs, I try and appreciate it too much, which is why I’m always so busy.

She also let’s me know when she thinks I’m doing a few things right. And she’s been telling me since meeting him last fall when we were in town for a visit and the 4H Rodeo ..

.. that the Cowboy in our lives is one of those things.  And, she mentioned she’s been saving up for a trip she hopes (and now knows), is coming soon.

Even when my own mother was still alive, I was so incredibly grateful for Sheila in our lives… but over the years, I have grown to appreciate the woman she is, the examples she sets and the time and love extended us all the more.

Staying put …

I was kind of sick to my stomach yesterday.. thinking about making a decision I knew was best to make for so many reasons.

But one that I just didn’t want to do.

We cold decide to stay put in South Dakota .. where we have settled in nicely these first few days of spring break.

Or .. we could head out, leaving the Cowboy’s like we had planned, for a few days in Montana.

……….

We go to Montana every year at least once if not twice. And that’s just the two of us. My 10 year old then goes one if not two more times with her father. I don’t ever feel I can speak on his behalf nor would I want to, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say, we all love it. The state. The state of mind. Being there moves me and I think all of us, like few other places.. something I never expected when I moved there so many years ago for my first job. It is where my ex and I met. I’m not sure a day has gone by that my ex doesn’t wish he had ever left. His entire family now lives there, without him. That’s a whole other story.

Regardless .. If we don’t go to visit family, we go to visit all the friends who are like family to us.

The annual roadtrip usually has us swinging a big loop to see friends in Big Sky country, The Bitterroot, Missoula, Ninemile, the Flathead Valley and back toward home .. it’s a lot of driving. And never enough time with any of them.

But this trip, I really wanted and quite honestly, felt I needed time with a woman who is like a second mom to me. The Hat Maker and her family. One stop. One stop I have been looking forward to for a very long time. We had scheduled three days there .. to fall in-between two very long, wonderful weekends at the Cowboy’s.

I didn’t want to back out… but my gut was telling me I should.

The Cowboy and I have had some much needed time together and conversations we just can’t seem to have in earnest otherwise .. since we have been here. All good things.

But until my daughter asked the other night.. “Mom, can’t we stay one more day here?” .. I hadn’t really considered simply staying put for an entire week.

Not only because I’d be changing loosely set plans .. (which I’m typically and all too often, good with)

Or missing out on an opportunity to spend time in a place and with people that feed my soul ..

But because it would mean I would actually stay put, in one place, with little to do other than rest .. regroup .. think .. and have absolute down time with people I love and adore and appreciate here as well. My daughter being one. The Cowboy another.

………..

Downtime is not something I give myself permission to have very often. And I hate to generalize but, I believe it’s actually something we, as a society have gotten so far away from. Many of us, anyway. The Cowboy has been good for me in that regard.

The Hat Maker agrees .. as she adores the Cowboy and what he’s meant for us. She told me on the phone as we were talking about the possible change of plans last night, that it was probably good for us to stay put for awhile. Stop running from here to there and everywhere inbetween because often it never gets us where we want to go anyway.

We woke this morning …

And instead of getting in the car for the twelve hour drive ..

We are enjoying staying put.. heading outside where there are two horses saddled, ready for my daughter and I to ride out in the South Dakota sun .. While we wait for the Cowboy to return home.

‘She didn’t call it that, did she?’ …

One of my favorite people sent a note to the Cowboy shortly after either reading yesterday’s blog or just looking at the title.

And I can just hear her low, rumbling, infectious laugh as she wrote to him, ‘She didn’t call it that, did she?’ in regard to yesterday’s post about the term ‘lasso’.  I am not sure yet if she is appalled.  Or in hysterics over what a greenhorn I apparently still am.

While living in Montana and every year since, I’ve spent (along with our family) as much time as possible at their ranch.  They have taken me in as family.  I couldn’t love them any more.  And they feel like home to me.  God, family, raising cattle, fun, friends and the rodeo have been a part of their lives for generations.  Maybe, but not necessarily in that order.  But most likely.  And having spent as much time with them as I have, one might think, before meeting the Cowboy, I might have been a little better versed in roping.

Regardless, as I was going to talk about something else entirely today (When a child walk in on… will be tomorrow) .. it struck me to write this post.  Both because of the comments exchanged between my dear friend/second mother and the Cowboy ..

And, that I ran across this link.

http://www.golfchannel.com/media/golf-in-america-2011-cow-pasture-open/

Wisdom, when I first met my dear friend and her family, is where they lived.  Where they ranched.  Where the kids went to school.  Where there was a hat shop.  Where around the corner was one of the coolest stores/galleries and a restaurant attached the locals and visitors loved to stop.  (Where I bought the purse so many years ago people keep asking me where I got it.)  And where during the deep snows of winter, it took a snowmobile to make the drive home.  Wisdom is like a little bit of heaven on earth.  Actually, a lot.  A lot of space.  Incredible beauty in ever direction.  And the people there would give anything to help family, friend or a stranger.

While a lot has changed;  there’s been a divorce, a remarriage, the kids have grown and now all have families of their own, the hat shop has moved to a new home and so has my friend .. snowmobiles are more for sport, than a necessity .. and the cafe/gallery has sadly burned down..

There is still a lot about Wisdom that remains the same.  The town.  Fetty’s.  The gas station.  The Antler.  The Cow Chip Open.  Most importantly, many of the same people.  How good and kind they are.  Open to visitors who become family.

And the mistakes they make, learning the ropes of being a cowboy…