July 12, 2009

Why I Love Wyoming

I'm writing this from an empty studio. This is the final time I'll be able to reach out over my desk and, with my left hand, flip the latch that opens a window; I will miss that in DC. I broke the colony code and used the public printer to print out the work I've done, just in this final week, on the allergy book. 43 pages--half revisions, half new drafting--warm to the touch.

It's time to go.

But yesterday, we had a perfect benediction to our time in Wyoming: an all day trip up into the Big Horn Mountains to go to Medicine Wheel, an ancient Indian shrine. A very holy place, where people tie prayers for their loved ones to a barbed wire fence that protects the centuries-old arrangements of stones, shells, and bone. Without further ado:

On the way up into the Big Horn Mountains, we made a quick trip to Tongue River Canyon.

At the entrance to the canyon, we found a clutch of trees filled with heron nests.

If you know the size of a typical heron, you'll recognize that the scale is mind-boggling.

After passing a very cute "$1.00 Lemonade by Chloe" stand (Chloe was making money hand over fist), we entered the canyon.

It had the feel of a local hangout, rather than a recognized landmark. Fishing. Hiking. Tailgating.

This was taken out the window of a moving car; in other words, I have made friends with my digital camera.

Around every turn of the long switchback route from Dayton to the Burgess Junction, we saw ancient formations like this one.

Once we'd entered the Big Horn parkland, we parked and hiked the mile and a half to Medicine Wheel. Awesome view. Merciless mosquitoes.

Just one texture of the landscape below us.

For contrast, another texture. This alpine duality reminded me a little bit of Mount Pilatus in Switzerland.

For example, that white patch in the dead center of the photo? That's ice. In July.

This is the breadth of Medicine Wheel, which sits on the hilltop. I loved the modesty of the display. No souvenir stands.

This shot offers a better sense of the Wheel's symbolic purpose and vibrance.

Flowers for my grandmother, bound with the hair elastic I'd worn on the way up.

On the central hub rested a huge bull skull. Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce would come here to fast.

That's me, in the moment of realizing that playing hooky from writing for a day has been utterly worth it.

Some of my fellow residents--note the sharp drop-off. We weren't really supposed to be this far out, but a generous ranger told us it was okay as long as we walked along the fenceline.

A close-up of the ground cover where we were sitting, which included some terrifically fragrant white flowers.

Yep, that's me again.

An actual, in-the-moment, bluebird of happiness was waiting for us back at our car. We had dinner at the Branding Iron Cafe in Dayton, which had perhaps the best waffle fries I have ever had.


Now it's time to go for a very long walk...all the way back home. Thanks for spending the month with me at the Jentel Artist Residency in these blog-posts!


giulia said...

Oh thank you for the lovely photos-with-prose post. I've never been to Wyoming but when you mention 'alpine' I have a bit of an idea. Really lovely. And that last shot, bird on a wire. I'm writing from DC (ok, 2 blocks over the line) & it's not very humid, you'll be glad to know. Perhaps you're already back. But thanks again. This was a nice treat...yes, you did make friends with your camera.

Anne said...

That heron-nest picture made my jaw drop. Incredible! Thanks for sharing these :)

newzoopoet said...

Stunning landscape to write to!

Dr. Hamid Rasool said...

C'est bon.