A Dusting

The new year has brought several days of bitter cold temperatures and it seems a constant dusting of snow to South Dakota. It’s been beautiful but almost too cold to get out and fully appreciate it all.  The kids have tried with all their might to stay out longer than 10 minutes to sled and play but it’s been days of running between heated homes and vehicles. Cabin fever has indeed settled in over this winter’s break.

 

Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The herd has stayed very close to the shelter belt through it all.

Tuko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the dogs find warmth among the straw bales if they’re out for very long.

Blu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

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.

South Dakota Sunset

When you’ve got places to be, you’re running behind because you were just somewhere else you had to be and somewhere in-between here and there you’re hoping to get caught up on what you haven’t been paying attention to – things like email, an actual conversation with your spouse, messages and calls that need returning because, well because it’s how you get things done and it’s what others expect – how often do you simply lift your eyes to the world around you and soak it in?

It can be tough, taking the time each day to consciously just ‘stop’. Stop and soak up the scenery, or the people around you and the places you whiz by. But I challenge you (I say ‘you’ loosely here. I have only a vague idea of a few who might read this. My hope is at the very least, my kids will someday read back over my words and know this was something I felt important for not only my own life, but theirs as well) to slow down and try to notice something new in your every day. In your drive to work or back home. In the people around your office. Or even in observing your own child. So much in that snapshot of our daily lives, no matter how routine, is constantly changing. And it’s pretty awesome, inspiring and humbling when you stop to look at any of it.

DSC09593

In-between a series of meetings, volleyball games, dropping off the gun my daughter had borrowed from the neighbors to go pheasant hunting last weekend, trying to find a few minutes to change into something warmer, grab a bite to eat and make it on time to rehearsal for the musical in town .. I didn’t have really any time to spare as I sped down a gravel road near our home this evening. But I saw the scene above, put my foot on the brake, let it register that I did actually see a scene that awesome, turned the car around and stepped out of the drivers seat for a few moments to soak it all in.

I’ve tried to make this a daily practice most of my adult life, but it’s never been this effortless. Life here everyday in so many ways, reminds me of how fortunate I am. It reminds me again to stop. To breathe and soak it all in. I hope you have this too.

I am so in love with a state (far more than just the state) I never thought I would know .. no more than the speedy drive through on my way to wherever I needed to be next, anyway.

Alongside The Road ..

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

………….

“They’re just weeds,” the Cowboy replied on our drive back from Wall again this weekend. I was asking him if he’s ever paid much attention to the flowers lining almost every roadway in South Dakota this time of year.

Small Roadside Flower

I’ve noticed these beautiful mini-sunflower like blooms the past couple of years in my time back and forth between South Dakota and Wisconsin. But now living here, I’ve been able to enjoy the full season of weeds. Wildflowers. Sunflowers. Whatever you care to call them.

Millions fill the medians of major highways in this state, line thousands of miles of gravel roads and seem to sneak in just about everywhere else in-between. Almost every state boasts something seasonal like this.

Roadside FlowersIt amazes me though, how many drive by wherever they may live, not often noticing. The weeds. Is it because they’re just there, every year .. and we grow accustomed to them? The colors. Their proliferation. Or, is it that far too often, we are too wrapped up in the business of our day-to-day to notice?

Enjoy the weeds while we have them. Their passing means if nothing else, our summer days are numbered.

Allen’s Hill

I mentioned earlier this week how I am spending the week at a dear friends cottage along the Wisconsin River .. with no phone, television or internet. It’s been a blessing, in more ways than one. Leaving the cottage each day to go somewhere I can get an internet connection has meant some beautiful morning drives ..

Eddie's Hill

Eddie’s Hill

I showed this photo the other night to my dad, who I was grabbing a beer with along with some other friends. He said to me, and pointed out to the others, “That’s Allen’s hill, that hill there on the left.”

I’ve lived in this area my entire life and never known that hill had a name. Nor had I stopped to think about it. Most streets, hills, buildings .. etc. do, whether they exist in the city or the country. Places known for those that have come before us and for any number of reasons, left their mark.

How often do we stop to question why things are named what they are? And how much cooler or meaningful will those places be to us once we understand?

 

Waiting on spring ..

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
― Percy Bysshe ShelleyOde to the West Wind

Another Day of Heavy Fog

Another Day of Heavy Fog

The weather has been quite a topic of conversation lately .. most people sick of the cold and snow.  And while I’m ready for spring myself, today there were just some incredibly beautiful scenes to be soaked up.

Gracie

Gracie

Blanketed in Frost

Blanketed in Frost