[bottle feeding sweet little Baby Gertrude]
I was down in Inkom this morning where it was branding day at a friend’s ranch. I manage to attend and photograph the event every year and it’s always wonderful to witness the unity of a small Idaho ranching community, the cowboys and cowgirls doing their stuff (they have some serious skills), the ways families have grown and developed over the year, the horses working hard, doing what they were bred to do, and the cow dogs too, keeping a cattle herd moving and flowing across a pasture land. What a way of life. If you haven’t seen such a thing in person — a cattle drive, team roping, the athleticism of cutting horses, individual roping, steer wrestling and…well…the utter whole of it, I’m sure it’s difficult to imagine. I wish you could all see for yourselves, the fascinating details and the men, women and beasts who belong to such a way of life. Some of these folks are our good friends, and when I watch them work, I feel I have a clear view of the very roots of their existence and that view, to me, is a precious thing.
At some point, in the rain and wind, I wandered off into a pasture and collected some sun bleached cow skulls. Up there, away from the wild action of the round-up, the meadow larks were singing, their melodies rising above the weight of spring showers. The mountains had the exquisite soft look they get in the springtime when the green is new and splaying; the hills and mountains are pure tenderness rolling up and away, folding and unfolding like love letters to the sky. I flushed a handful of pheasant from a cluster of volcanic rock and listened to them cackle wildly as they flew. As I walked, I sang out poetry to the land and thought I could feel it wrap its arms around me and take me in. Now, I wear a cloak of bunch grass. There is balsam root in my hair.
This springtime of mine, I feel it chanting ribbons of magic and turning alive under the gaze of the sun. I think the buttons are popping off the cardigan of my heart, as the very verve of everything is filled to the point of bursting. I love this season. It’s such a beautiful thing.