Tuesday, July 30, 2013

flash bang boom! and Devil's Tower

Just like that, July goes out with a boom.  I have about four blog posts in my head, and they will likely stay in my head until September.  Oh, summer.  You are like a hyperactive child.  Camping!  Hiking!  Swimming!  Gardening!  Fishing!  Canoeing!  Rafting!  Biking!  Playgrounds!  Playgroups!  County fair!  Art fair!  Concerts!  Farmer's market!  Can I?  Can I?  Can I please?    

No time to think, no time to reflect.  And I really like both of those things.  No wonder I'm partnered with a long winter.

So here I am.  A dinner of cutthroat trout (pulled from the river), garden green beans (with fennel, pickled onion and fried almonds), and a green garden salad sits happily in my belly.

My garden is a green explosion and I keep meaning to write a post about it, but as soon as I'm ready my photos are outdated and the garden has taken on a new personality.  I think it actually changes faster than a toddler.  You start writing down all the first words and the next thing you know, words bolted, phrases are ripe and sentences just coming on.  All from a tiny seed, warm sunshine and glorious water.  It's incredible.            

New favorite way to eat beets (thanks to my mom): roasted, peeled, sliced thin, sprinkled with goat cheese and fresh parsley.  Yum!  Even my beet-hating husband likes it.  (Juniper still prefers her beets to be "clean"--no cheese or parsley.)

:: (More) Summer Snaps.  Are you ready?  I hope I don't crash anyone's e-mail.  (I'm sorry guys, but this is the best I can do in these crazy days.)

: Earlier this month, my family packed our bags, threw the canoe on the truck and drove across the great, empty state of Wyoming, landing near the eastern border at Keyhole state park with a HUGE lake (like, I think we only saw one little finger of it).  Not far from home we passed a grizzly sow with two cubs, no time to stop.  The drive took us all day, we arrived after dark while fireworks erupted over the lake and lightening split the sky in the backdrop.  We met with my dad (for 24 hours), and my cousin's family.  For the first time Juniper and Hazel met the kid whose clothes they wear almost daily.  And for the first time I met my cousin's smart, bouncy, cheery, inquisitive six-year-old who stops only to eat, draw and read.  It was dark and I hadn't seen my cousin in five years, her husband in eleven years, and yet we all hugged dark, hooded figures as though it had been yesterday (hooded because it had been raining).  Right away, young cousin M whisks Juniper away and asks, "Are you three or are you four?"  Juniper slides right into pace with her like a big kid, but turns to me and adoringly asks, "Mama, how old is me?"

The next morning--even before breakfast and morning pees--my kids were swept into my dad's arms and led across the grassy ravine to M's campsite.  And from that point on our campground was a swirl of "fairy princesses" flitting through the ponderosas.  We had brought the fairy wings and cousin M handed-down the pink dress, which Juniper didn't remove for 4 days straight, except to eat ice-cream.  (Oh, the princess phenomena.  I have a post in my head about that one, you know it.)  
Juniper copied cousin M's every move.
Let's get things straight here.  Fairy princesses also like to inspect rotting fish on the lake bank.  With grandpa.  

Fairy princesses try out the front-porch swing of a "bear's den."

Meanwhile, Hazel Iris--true to form--fell out of the camper-trailer and rolled down the sharp metal steps pretty much first-thing.  In subsequent days and weeks, she would cut, scrape and bump that exact spot 3 more times.  The other day, my man noticed she has a chipped front tooth.  She's only had front teeth for a few months.  This kid, I tell you.

How cool is it that grandpa still motorcycle-camps?  
We hiked around nearby Devil's Tower, (or Bear's Tipi, or Bear's Lodge).  We talked a lot about the bear who made the claw marks in the rock and the sisters who escaped (there are many versions of this legend).  We saw rock climbers and talked to them about their gear.  Most of the time Juniper was whining about the wind, but let's not talk about that now (actually, it's getting better--or less windy, hard to tell).  
^Native American prayer bundle.^
^Juniper, cousin M and her dad.^
^Cousin M and her dad, me and Juniper, my cousin A.  Sorry about all the confusing initials but I forget to get permission and, well, people of my generation are skeptical about internet anonymity.  You understand.^

Hazel, our climber.  The thing is, she's so good at it.  Then, when you're least expecting it, she falls.  Not here though.  She was as nimble as a mountain goat.    
Ice-cream cones afterwards.  
And chase in the grass. 
A day-time visit back to the bench where we had watched the fireworks and lightening storm that first night.  
Relaxing days in camp topped with canoeing and warm-water fishing (walleye!).  
Lake swimming.  They are just getting their feet wet here; they actually did swim, but I stayed on the beach with Hazel who isn't a fan of anything cooler than bathwater.    
Did I mention my cousins drove from Ohio?  And my dad from the northwestern coast of Washington?  My family is literally spread east to west, north to south.  Right now, (I wrote most of this a few days ago) I am with my mom in a hotel in Cheyenne, visiting *more* relatives I haven't seen for a decade.  I declare: no more!  We need to start wrangling reunions.    
I had intended to shove all of July's snaps into this post, but I won't torture you.  So goodnight folks.  I'll hit publish and start the next one.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

summer snaps

Before summer gets wound any tighter, some snapshots from summer so far.
:: Rhubarb pie and how we spent Father's Day.
First painted nails.  He has always claimed to be the pro.
:: Her style.
:: Garden gnomes.  (Garden update coming soon....)
:: Hiking fools.  (Once we moved past the scariness of the "wind".  BAH!  More on that later.)  
:: Mountain Days, our local festival.  *This* is the kick-off to our almost-daily "Indian dancing" that prances well into winter.
:: We've been meeting with a few other families for nature-education activities.  Wetland bug collecting, netting and observing fish at a warm springs, hiking.
:: Home projects.  My man's been a busy beaver: gnawing, cutting, fitting things together.  He's made one coop and a chicken tractor, with just a few finishing touches needed.  Below, Juniper inspects the windows above the nest boxes.
She also pretends to lay eggs and has me collect them.  
If she's gone missing, I generally know where to find her.
The Beaver rented equipment to start moving a mountain of gravel.  His assistant was at the ready.
:: Wearing the tourist hat.  Sometimes I forget about all the activities in our neighboring resort town.  After too many days pegged at home with a small contagion, we found ourselves with a free-day and 90(!) degrees.  What to do?  We headed up the mountain.  (Juniper has been reading a book involving a gondola, making this trip extra awesome.)
On the way up we spotted more arrowleaf balsamroot, which has been done in the lowlands for a few weeks now.  Juniper was so excited! about everything, she said (loudly), "Wow, Mama!  There are so many flowers on this big round earth!"    
We didn't stay long at the top or do any hiking (thanks to the effing "wind"), but it was fun and not 90 degrees.  At the bottom, we ate ice-cream cones.  Later that night I snuggled Juniper in bed and, as usual, asked what her favorite part of the day was: "Eating ice-cream cones."  It's always the small stuff.  I should have known.  
:: Hazel's favorite: catching bubbles in the yard.
:: My man always works well into the night of July 4th.  I had grand plans to take the kids to a (free!) Old Crow Medicine Show concert in said resort town, followed by a brilliant fireworks display.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks.  The concert was for me, the fireworks for us, followed by a late-night drive home.  I had the evening perfectly choreographed in my mind, but everything hinged on the kids taking a good, long, afternoon nap.  Juniper didn't nap a wink.  I bailed.  I hate bailing.  Wyoming Public Radio broadcast the event live, so I listened between outdoor chores and drawing the kids' bath.  Juniper caught me in a reverie--listening--on the mudroom steps.  It was early in the show and they were playing a fantastic instrumental.  I was sitting on the steps envisioning myself there, surrounded by that energetic buzz.  Juniper asked, "Mama, do you like listening to this big round world?"  "Yes, baby, I do."  I said.  "Awwwwe.  That's sweet."  She said.       
Sweet, indeed.  In the end, the night unfolded exactly as it was meant to.  The kids bathed, brushed teeth, zipped into pajamas, and then BAM!  POP!  ZING!  "Okay kids!  Let's go!  Get your boots on!  Quick!  In the car!  Go, go, go!"  They didn't dilly-dally.  They nearly knocked themselves over getting shoes on and into their carseats.  We drove a mile down the road, parked next to the river alongside a casual gathering of townsfolk and watched the blasts from the other side.  Turns out, our puny little town is like a little dog with a loud bark.  It was quite the show.  
Hazel clapped and cheered with each explosion.  Juniper snuggled into the blankets with a grin on her face as I yelled into her earmuffs... WE'RE... CELEBRATING... THE... INDEPENDENCE... OF... OUR... NATION!  ISN'T... THIS... AWESOME?  Old Crow Medicine Show sang live from my car speakers and we rocked the night together, like a Wagon Wheel.  

(^You tube video of Wagon Wheel.  E-mail subscribers, I think you have to go to my website to view.  Anyway, no Darius Rucker at our show, but you get the idea.^)