17 July 2009


It's Tuesday afternoon. The redwing blackbirds are making a fuss above me in the cottonwoods and a slight breeze is ruffling the petals of the bright red-orange poppies to my left. The front lawn of the Lazy J-R Ranch is bright green from the surprising amounts of rain they've had. Such richness and surprise -- it lies all around -- in the tiny little rural hamlets of our country like quiet little Albin, Wyoming, situated comfortably in the southeast corner of this wide-reaching state. Population: Not Very Many. No one remembers that it's out here, and I suppose that's our greatest triumph. We are the keepers of such good secrets. Giants In the Earth comes to mind, a book by Rolvaag that I never finished, but meant to, back in high school. It only pops into my head because people my family members who call this wideness their home hold "giant" status in my estimation. Such deep wells of knowledge, experience and emotion (although one of them jests and calls himself heartless, we all know better when little Abigail crawls into his arms).

The sky is piercing blue and the clouds are cool white against it. I understand why this dark fence around the front yard and garden is necessary and helpful but I definitely don't appreciate what it does to my view of the rolling fields of ripening wheat from my usual seat on the front steps. Uh-oh, flies are biting. That means rain.

Over an expertly grilled dinner (complete with perfectly char-marked baguette, gently softened Brie and a sprightly cucumber salad) at our Grand Island campsite in the middle of nowheresville Nebraska, Jason asked us what our expectations/hopes were for this trip. After some thought and quiet chewing, we all landed basically on the same answer: doing nothing. Well, almost nothing. There is much to do but little we have to do. There are pies to be made, walks to be taken, windmills to be visited, conversations to be had, sunsets and thunderstorms to watch.

Yesterday morning Aunt Amy made her legendary pancakes. Man alive, there is nothing like them. I could divulge some secrets here but I think I'll keep it a mystery as to how she elevates the lowly flapjack to a heightened, multi-sensory, vanilla-scented experience. Michael waits til everyone has vacated the kitchen and only then prepares his plate. He drowns his cakes in syrup and I can't really pinpoint why it is that I love to watch him eat. He's so calculated and deliberate, his adam's apple slides slowly when he swallows, he feeds careful, equal bits to the dogs who know to wait patiently by his side, he wipes his mustache in the coolest way -- can't explain that. Today at lunch he had a double thickness of paper towel for his cake (quite seeping with buttery deliciousness) and when he was done he tore it along the perforated edge, crumpled up the messy half and used the bottom one to wipe the table. Lickety-split. I make a special point to observe his methodical ways. When Silas and Abigail arrived, the remaining cakes disappeared within a matter of moments. Sadie and Maggie wore disappointed expressions as they watched all the leftovers gobbled up by two toddlers.

Wade came out from Laramie and all three guys are out in Mike's shop. Think I'll leave that one alone. I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that no one can reach me, maybe a little too much, and a giddy sensation shoots through my body when I realize that it's pointless to charge my phone. I suppose I should go inside and help with painting but it's just a little too lovely out here. Perhaps it's time for the inaugural run. County Road 147, I love you.