I don’t know what he’s crowing about, but he’s giving it his all.
I don’t know what he’s crowing about, but he’s giving it his all.
This rose from my mother-in-law’s garden did it’s best to stave off the rain and cold last weekend in northern Wyoming. I’m ready for a cool-down, but it’s always sad saying goodbye to summer.
Outdoor Guy, Wyokiddo and I traded the heat and deer flies of Goshen County for the high country this week. We spent two and a half days in the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming. Two days of fishing, eating s’mores, enjoying each other, hiking and watching wildlife.
What I didn’t do much of was pick up my camera.
It was a promise I made to myself, for me and my family, to stop taking photos and just enjoy the moment. When I’ve got my camera in my hand, my mind is constantly thinking about photography. Where’s the best light? What’s in the background? Can I frame this better? Is this sharp enough? Ugh, that’s too dark, better open up my aperture.
I decided on this trip, I wanted to focus on being a mom and a wife, not a photographer. And I’m so glad I did. I got to spend the lazy mountain mornings with my daughter cuddled in my lap, warming up by the fire. I got to watch my husband and daughter make s’mores and marvel at how many of their mannerisms are the same. I enjoyed the calm and quiet of our camp, the heady scent of pine and the spongy feel of the wild earth beneath our feet.
I took a few quick shots so Wyokiddo will have something for her scrapbook, and I couldn’t resist a few snaps of the mule deer doe and her two fawns moving through our camp. But mostly my camera stayed in it’s case, forgotten.
As I laid in our tent our last night in camp listening to the soft snores from Wyokiddo and Outdoor Guy, I promised myself that I would do this more often…put down the camera and pick up my life.
In twenty years, Wyokiddo isn’t going to flip through photos of our time together and go “Uh oh. Mom blew the focus on this one. See how my hat’s not sharp?”
She’ll pick up the stack of these images and say “My first camping trip! I remember how tired my legs were after that two-mile hike we went on and how mom complained about how hard the ground was.”
Photos should document our lives. Not consume them.
A few nights ago, we found this fat and sassy caterpillar happily munching on our tomatoes. It was quickly apprehended and now lives in Wyokiddo’s bug jar. At least for another day or two.
After some research, I discovered it is a tomato hornworm, so named because of it’s penchant for devouring tomatoes and the little horn-like appendage on it’s tail. After it pupates, this caterpillar will turn into a Sphinx moth. Google also told me this probably wasn’t the only caterpillar we had in our garden…where there’s one there’s probably 10 or 20. Sure enough, on subsequent trips to the garden, we another 15 or so of the chubby green menaces.
As Wyokiddo stared at one mowing down my plants, she said “Mama, it looks just like the very hungry caterpillar in my books!”
It really did resemble the star of the Eric Carle books. But this caterpillar won’t get a chance to eat through oranges, apples, pears, salami, cheese, pickles or an ice cream cone, and neither will his brethren. You don’t mess with my tomatoes and live to tell the tale.
Summer is winding down in our household. Soon, Wyokiddo will start kindergarten and I will face an empty house and open day for the first time in five years. But aside from the stacks of school supplies in the corner of my office, I can also tell summer is coming to an end by how the pheasants look.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve been in the pens and enjoyed the birds. I’ve been busy with my own flock. I’ve had several photo shoots, we spent time with my family in Cheyenne and we participated in our local county fair. So I was a little surprised at how the birds have grown.
The males are starting to color up and act like boys. Several roosters trailed us in the pens. They would ruffle their feathers and bluff charge us to show us their toughness. The red eye patch is quite distinct, and many are getting their “ring-neck.”
The girls, on the other hand, generally hide in the kochia and give us a wide berth. They use the weeds as cover to protect themselves. It’s an important technique that will serve them when they are released. They can use the natural cover to hide from dogs, hunters, owls and coyotes. They’ll also use that cover to protect their clutch of eggs and chicks.
Nobody on the road,
Nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
The summer’s out of reach.
Summer isn’t out of reach yet, but soon my boys of summer will be gone for another season. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy their antics and the gentle thrum of life in rural Wyoming.
This little chick had a rough day today. I’m not sure how his afternoon began, but it ended with a tongue bath from a very curious puppy. Border collies make terrible bird mamas. He’s now safely ensconced in a tree in our yard awaiting some assistance from mom.
Our neighbor brought a gift for Wyokiddo today in the form of a jar full of tadpole shrimp, or “Triops.” They are tiny little crustaceans with three eyes and up to 70 pairs of legs. This one was no bigger than the tip of my pinky finger.
They don’t have a real long lifespan. Most will die within 90 days, if their water source doesn’t die up first. They must be tougher than they look, because some species of Triops are more than 300 years old.
Nature continually surprises and delights me!
For years, I’ve watched nature shows about the Northern Lights and longed to see them. I figured it would involve a trip somewhere, well…north! But last night, Outdoor Guy saw an anomaly in our night sky as he went to check the chick hatcher one last time before bed.
“Hey, come see this,” he called. I slid the computer off my lap, shoved my feet in shoes and walked outside to join him.
To the northwest of the property was a weird streak of light rising from the horizon into the night sky. My first thoughts were moon dog or someone with a bonfire and the smoke and light were playing tricks on our eyes. But the conditions weren’t right for either of those.
“I gotta get my camera,” I said and dashed into the house.
I spent the next thirty minutes playing with long exposures and light painting. I went to bed happy with the performance of my new camera and pretty satisfied with the image I managed to build. I woke up to others’ photos of these same lights, folks who lived hundreds of miles from my house. The consensus was the same.
Well I’ll be damned.
Last night, standing behind our house in south eastern Wyoming, accompanied by a background soundtrack of owls and frogs, of I witnessed the Northern Lights. Hats off to Mother Nature, that was quite a performance.
This little fuzzball and its siblings treated us to some uber cuteness yesterday. It is a good thing mama goose was so protective, or this little bugger might have come home in my pocket! Canada goose gosling, Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
A few weeks ago, Wyokiddo and had a girls’ day out. We stopped by the Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. It’s a small zoo, but for western Nebraska, it’s a pretty cool place.
One of the highlights is always the peacocks and peahens that roam freely about. This boy’s feathers were the perfect thing to brighten up the gray day.