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.
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.
I spent the last four days nestled in a little nook along Clear Creek on the eastern slope of Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains. Oh how my soul missed those mountains.
It felt like old home week for me. The earthy smell of a dewy forest floor, the tang of pine, the crisp air stinging my cheeks, the twittering of chickadees… it was a feast for the senses. Wildflowers carpeted the hills, the meadows afire with the likes of arnica, lupine and prairie smoke yet to bloom, set against the jaw-dropping beauty of granite peaks like Loaf Mountain and Big Horn Peak.
Just looking at this stunning, familiar landscape made my heart sing with happiness.
Most of my time was dedicated to taking photos of women learning new outdoor skills. But when I thought no one would miss me, I would sneak away to find a mountain view to photograph or just a quiet spot in the woods to stop and be. The soft cushion of pine needles under my feet and the occasional chattering of a red squirrel provided a quiet musical accompaniment to my thoughts and musings.
I never realized how much I truly missed living and playing here until now. Outdoor Guy and I started our lives together on the western slope of these mountains. Together, we fished the high country and hunted the lowlands. We talked about our present and dreamed of our future.
When it was time to pack up camp, I drug my feet coming home. I didn’t want to break the spell this place had woven around me once again. But I had made my choice long ago, and it was time to leave this place behind me.
Twenty-four hours later, it was back to Goshen County, where wide open spaces and endless views give my soul room to breathe. A place where tractors and balers churn across the hillside A land of the heady smell of fresh-cut hay and cow manure. These plains of my childhood are as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. Antelope and hawks, “minor fauna” like Woodhouse toads, sagebrush lizards, bull frogs and opossum to encounter. New friends that welcomed us here with open hearts and treat us like family. This place is home, too.
“You can’t ride two horses with one ass, Sugar Bean.”
As Wyokiddo and I sped toward our house with the bright red doors, I contemplated the conflicting emotions inside me.
We live in world where we are forced to make dozens of choices daily. We are expected to choose a course of action and stay on our side of the that line in the sand. Paper or plastic. Organic or conventional. City or country. Foreign or domestic. Red or blue. Society demands strict adherence to this rigid dichotomy.
I believe otherwise. My life is richer for the diversity of experience. We can have plains and mountains, frogs and elk, roots and wings. It is the breadth and very dichotomy of this state itself that feeds my soul.
Wyokiddo, Outdoor Guy and I got up a little early this morning to head down to our local reservoir for some fishing. We got skunked.
On our walk back to the car, we saw some tiny little lizards darting across the path on the dam. They were about the size of Outdoor Guy’s index finger and lightning fast. We were also treated to the antics of some fat, lazy prairie dogs and a burrowing owl sighting on our way home.
“Sorry we didn’t catch any fish,” I told Wyokiddo as we put our stuff away in the house.
“Are you kidding?” She asked me. “We saw lizzards and owls. this was the best fishing trip ever!”
I love that even at five, she’s starting to realize our mornings on the water isn’t about how many fish we catch, but about what we experience along the way together as a family.
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.