Monday, August 26, 2013

The Equanimous Mind

The cucumbers are winning. I’ve given some away, made pickles, served them fresh at every meal, and still they’ve outrun me. I’m glad I didn’t plant zucchini!   

I love rummaging around in the garden and coming upon a wayward dill plant with its lovely fragrance.  I cut some heads to go in a bouquet with volunteer celosia and sunflowers. I planted these three plants a few years ago from seed and now they come up wherever they like. They create a random arrangement each year. Vegetable gardens are a thing of beauty, some with manicured rows and crisp edges, others, like mine, with overgrown abandon.  

The goldfinches have the airwaves to themselves lately. There are still a few kingbirds around, but they're silent. And even the owls have quieted their nighttime screeching. The slide toward fall has begun.

Seth and Anna are back at school. I hate to see them go, but this is life as we know it. We had such fun while they were home. They helped us move cattle and work on the cabin and spent quality time with the whole family. Their Washington DC experience was grand, but neither one plans a career in the east.  

I have a new word, equanimity. I read about within a Buddhist framework, but all the major religions teach it. Equanimity means an evenness of mind. It acknowledges that good times and bad times, neither one, last very long. Better to cultivate a calm contentment.

And lest you think it means to be detached or apathetic, Wikipedia says it is rather a “mature radiance” and “warmth of being.”  

This philosophy fits me and Mark this hot, dry, summer of 2013. Good for parenting children who are now adults. Good for finding new passions and growing up. Good for the ups and downs of ranching. Good, even, for quietly letting some of the cucumbers turn into mulch. 

the crew
time out for women's work

all is well

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's about Water

All three kids are home and we’ve had some good conversations. Callie likes to ask roundtable questions whenever we’re together: Who was your favorite teacher and why? Who inspires you the most? What is your favorite form of water? (now, that’s original!)

Someone answered, “rain on a tin roof.” Another, “a slow moving river.” Still another, “ocean waves.” Callie contributed, “hot water in a tea cup.” For me it was easy, “a drink from the spring on Meadow Creek.” The best drink of water you’ll ever taste.  

It rises up out of a rocky side hill, making tiny pools as it meanders down through rocks. Watercress grows here. If you ride by you just have to stop. You can cup your hands and scoop it to your lips (always losing some of the precious stuff on the way up), or you can lie flat on your belly and stick your face down to the water. Neither approach works very good. So this summer I took up a tin cup to leave at the site. The cup is bright blue; you can’t miss it. It’s nestled under a sagebrush just northwest of the spring.

Sounds romantic doesn’t it? And romanticizing water is easy to do if you’re a rancher during this hot, dry summer. Our irrigation water is running short. One stream has officially been cut by 30%, and the others are weakening.

Wildfire is another concern. South and Central Idaho are burning as I write. The news reports talk of people evacuated and homes lost, but what they don’t say is the numbers of livestock at risk or the harrowing work of ranchers moving cattle out of harm’s way.

And if you save the cattle, what are they supposed to eat? The thought makes me shudder.

We had one scare during a lightning storm last week. Mark caught a horse and hustled to the hills just as the BLM was arriving with their rigs. Then a rain storm let loose and it was all over.

Water. Life. same, same.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Good Stuff

Harvest is on in Southeast Idaho and grain dust hangs in the air. Clouds of the stuff rise slowly, pointing out combines working in the distance. We’re not grain farmers, but the straw that’s left behind is great for lowering the cost of hay over the winter. We hauled all day yesterday and the banana yellow stack is safe and secure for another year.

Between loads I snuck in some reading - Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project. I’m trying to practice her admonition to answer the question with everything you write (even an informal blog entry): “What is this piece about?” It shouldn’t be so hard, but I wrestle with the task every time I go to the keyboard.

The images of even one week are hard to narrow down. It started with the youth rodeo, a family and community tradition since Mark’s grandpa helped start it 48 years ago. It began as a project to “give kids something to do in the summertime,” and turned into a two-day event that’s the center of family reunions and home comings, and my hometown’s claim to fame. The sign on main street reads: “Welcome to Firth, Home of the Little Buckaroo Rodeo.”   

Then on the following day my three local sisters and I took a road trip to Soda Springs Pride Days to revisit our history, eat wild salmon for lunch, and stop at an important site on the Oregon Trail where the route splits south to California and north to Oregon. Mom, who loved western history, was with us that day in spirit.

The week finished up with our annual Just Reunion. It was a big deal this year because our family association acquired the deed to the old ancestral home upon the death of my uncle last year. The house was built in 1887. It’s a beauty of handmade brick fired on-site and full of the original antiques. I grew up next door, so returning to the house, mopping the floors, sorting treasures, is a labor of love. The note that once hung on the door, “I am home, come in” is gone, but my grandma’s love holds me tight each time I enter.  

Dang, I’ve done it again, tried to cover way too much and got lost in the details. So what is this blog post about? 

Clancey gets a ribbon


Doing a Tom Sawyer at the old house
All photos by Becky Davis

Friday, August 2, 2013

Home Again

I welcome August with its burden of productivity. Everything is reaching up and out to collect sunshine, and down deep into the earth to set seed and store reserves for the winter. The nights have been dipping into the 50's. I wear a sweater to fix breakfast in the morning and it feels divine. 

We’re finally getting garden produce. Mark explains it this way: vegetables out of a home-grown garden taste like they’re supposed to. A carrot tastes like a carrot. 

Callie arrived home yesterday to stay a couple of months - to rethink her options and detox from the city. She flew from JFK in New York City (with its 8 terminals), to Salt Lake International, and then on to Pocatello Regional. This little airport is a great place to start detoxing, as they roll the staircase to you on the tarmac to deplane into our gloriously dry, Idaho air. She walked into the building and around the corner to get her baggage, then out the front door to the car parked just a few feet away. There's not even a stop arm at the exit. Sweet.

When we got home she headed straight to her old bedroom for a long nap and then went to the Reservation to check alfalfa with Mark. Then we picked beets, beans and cucumbers from the garden - all the while sampling peas straight from the pod. We paired the bounty with grass-fed steaks for supper on the terrace and listened to the owls in the trees. We discussed topics ranging from the aggressive nature of the great horned beauties to life lessons from Alan Watts.

This morning she and Mark headed to the hills to gather strays. And tonight she’ll get in on the little kids’ rodeo that Mark announces, now in its 48th year. The rodeo grounds are down by the Snake River, across from the high school track where she won medals as a teenager. Detox, yes.

welcome home

fresh  (very)