Friday, April 29, 2005

spring 'round here

As this unusually wet spring continues its moisty way here in Sanpete, Drie made an observation this morning. "It wouldn't be so bad to live in this house if it was like this more of the year." Yeah, and we'd be living in northern Idaho or Wisconsin, too. This spring our grass is lush and the breeze cool, and the dryland pasture mix I scratched into the field soil seems to be coming up plenty more than last year.
Our little acre lot has been as neglected over the past twenty or thirty years as our house. There are old ash and coal piles here and there on our acre, as well as shallow grooves that used to be irrigation ditches. I've spent much of the past four years hauling off old engine parts, coolers, timbers and wood, wire and assorted debris and garbage from the fields. There hadn't been much water on the pastures in the last ten years or so, and during our four summers there hasn't been much more than a couple of sporadic sprinklings from the hose because our water shares were pirated away before we moved in.
There used to be a small orchard in the southeast quarter, the last remaining stumps were pulled out by a former tenant in around '94. Right before we moved in, a couple of outbuildings, a granary and a carriage house, were pulled off the property and to a couple of more affluent people's yards in town.
So we're left with this wonderful acre of ground that puts forth abundant sandburs, cheatgrass and stork's bill without much effort, but not much else. Even the sagebrush and junipers I've planted each year have a rough time.
I think our acre was a clay bank in some former eon, the whole area that Spring City sits on is an alluvial fan formed by the two or three canyons east of town, especially Spring City and Canal Creek Canyons. The different areas of town have almost as many qualities of soil as there are lots. Ours is, because of its composition, recent caretaking, and current circumstance, one of the more barren.
Nevertheless, we'll keep planting trees, trying to keep deer away during the winter and the droughts away during summer. As we get a bit more shade on the ground, we'll keep developing a bit more microclimate. And the natives I keep introducing are bound to take at some point.
I hope our family will be happy here, even though the weather isn't often this nice all year-round.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hyrum's Drawings

Hyrum's been drawing pictures for me of things like moose skulls and ‘good horses’ over the last few days. For people with no children, of which I know quite a few, this might not sound like a big deal, or worse, it might sound like yet another cloying "my child did this amazing thing" post. Stick with me...
Nevertheless, it has triggered yet another intensely introspective instinct in me, making me think about the urges that drive my own thoughts and actions. What are the dominoes that made Hy begin this latest slew of drawings based on large quadrupeds and ungulents? Perhaps it begins with my own pet obsession with Yellowstone, driving all the way up there at times at the drop of a hat and welcoming into our home any quality program or publication that I find about the park and surroundings.
It began for me the summer after I graduated from High School. I had long fostered a curiosity about the area while never making it up there. Toward the end of July, my friend Andrew began talking quite seriously about heading up there to work. He had spent the year after he graduated waiting tables at Honee's Restaurant just west of downtown Salt Lake City and attending the University of Utah. He just wanted to get out of Dodge. I can't remember exactly how I hitched my wagon to that star, but before we knew it, we had agreed that his parents were going to drive us up and mine would come later in the fall to tote us back home.
We drove up to Gardiner, Montana, the headquarters for then Yellowstone-concessionaires, TW Services, in the Bigelow family Dodge van. Many adventures we had in that old van over the years, but this was the greatest of all, I'll have you know.
We arrived at the main offices and each got jobs assigned at Old Faithful, he at the Inn as a dishwasher and me as a room attendant at the lodge. We even roomed together in a small two-bed cabin behind the old post office. Drew’s blessed mom and dad dropped us and our stuff off there, and started back for home. We were off on our little journey, as well.
That summer was magical. Those were some of the last of the remnant of the good old days in the park, one year before the big fire and back when one could ride one's bike wherever one wanted at any time in the park. We walked the boardwalk around the geysers at three in the morning, we made some great friends, we had some close brushes with some amazing wildlife and we learned a lot about each other; and more especially, about ourselves.
I've always enjoyed the outdoors, finding solace and inspiration in that which lies outside, but my Yellowstone experience really gave a body to the soul of my being, a place to which I can always reference my internal milieu. The bison, elk, coyote, cutthroat, brook trout, brown trout, garter snakes, moose, brown and grizzly bear, swans. geese, eagles, ravens, hawks, larks, marmots, squirrels, local dogs and horses, and more recently, the wolves each taught me something specific about myself and my place within the environment in Yellowstone, and by inference, my place within myself. That is an invaluable gift, and one that has carried me to where I am now in spite of all of my own weaknesses and foibles.
So, as Hyrum Mohandas draws and presents me with his wee drawings of moose, elk and deer, each with a story, I try to truly listen to the words and expressions that he uses. Each drawing and story is an opportunity for a little more of that Yellowstone spirit- something teaching Hyrum and me about ourselves, and more especially, about our relationship to each other.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


The sun hesitated on its way behind the west mountains yestereve; for a moment the new grass hummed with the extra warmth and the good light. 
The clouds stayed their course as the sun stood still, passing over the sun in an instant, their quick shadow like turning a page on the evening. 
As the moment followed itself, the birds sung a little more clearly, not louder, but in a way that recalled ice breaking after a long winter.  The resonance of each note went to a different part of the body, high notes touching the shoulders and the lows caressing the soles of the feet. 
There were no motors, no jets, no shouts of anger.  Only that long plane of light not unlike the sea at sunrise, with all of the waves at one time refracting the sun's node into the eye; not without some discomfort, because life is not without pain at some level, but so that each glint of light reminds one of a reason to proceed, drawing one to that particular shard of light until another takes its place.
On its way, the sun hesitated, and I am glad that I noticed.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

An early in the year outing to the Price river, about four gpm flow out of the Scofield dam I'd swear; but man, the fishing was superb.