There are all kinds of people in this world. There are the high stress movers and shakers, and then there are those people, like my niece, Cassie Iverson, who like living life at a slower pace. For many of those who love the simple life, like Cassie, that means loving all things nature. Living in northern Wyoming, with Powell’s wide open spaces, and yet the Big Horn Mountains not too far away, nature is simply all around Cassie. She loves taking photographs of flowers and wildlife, so the mix of nature around her is perfect for her hobby. Cassie has also branched out, and has taken a few family photos for friends, and of course, her family. Her work is very creative and amazing.
Being a nature girl, means that Cassie loves things like camping with her family, fishing, and horses. Cassie and her husband, Chris take their kids, Lucas and Zoey out to the river to go fishing often. Not only is fishing a great pastime, for those who like the chance to slow life down a little bit, but it is also a healthy way to feed your family without spending a lot of money. Cassie’s top priority is her family. She is a great mom and her children, while very different in their abilities, have flourished under her loving care.
As I look through Cassie’s pictures of horses, her love for them is very evident. I would not be surprised if, at some time in the future, Cassie and Chris buy a piece of land somewhere to raise their own horses. It isn’t an inexpensive venture, but I think that most people who raise horses…or even one horse, find it to be very rewarding. It is also a great hobby for the children when they are a little older, and a great way for the family to spend time together. I can see them taking the kids on a camping trip using horses as the way to get there.
I think that many of us allow our lives to get so caught up in activities, running here and there, and worrying about what everyone else thinks, that we forget to simply live…or maybe to live simply. Maybe we don’t understand just how freeing the simple life can be…but Cassie knows, because she is living that dream. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Because Bob and I have been hiking for more than twenty years now, I have always thought that we were careful travelers through places that are home to the creatures of the forest. We don’t leave garbage behind, and we keep our distance when we spot wildlife. It is a show of respect for them, and most often, our distance creates a feeling of careful comfort for the wildlife we pass along the trail. Still, there are times when we inadvertently get a little close. It isn’t because we were careless, but rather that we didn’t see them and I guess they didn’t see us in time either. Most often this occurs with animals like chipmunks, squirrels, mice, or birds, but sometimes deer too. It is times like these that I realize that we are really interlopers in their world. Somehow, that never exactly occurred to me before.
While hiking the Centennial Trail in the area where it crosses the tracks for the 1880 Train, beginning at the Big Pine trailhead, and going to the Samelius trailhead, we came across several Ruffed Grouse. They were in the grass right beside the trail. We didn’t see them, and somehow we managed not to disturb them until we were just steps past them. Suddenly they were spooked by our presence, and we were spooked by theirs. The second they bolted, we were so startled that I tried to get the picture of them, and all I got was the turkey that had been there with them. The picture of the turkey in itself was kind of cool though, because somehow the turkey manage to be behind a small tree at just the right angle to be almost invisible to my camera’s eye. I had to look close to realize that I had caught anything in my shaken state.
It was then that I began to think about the fact that no matter how careful, or quiet, or respectful we are, we are still interlopers in their world, and it is still disturbing to them to some degree. True, the lone doe eating grass simply stood and watched us, and the bird intent on the worm it was taking back to its babies went about its business, and the mouse eating grass allowed us to pass by quite closely, and the frog sitting in the water puddle decided that he was not going to jump, even if we were very close by. They allowed us to be in close proximity to them, somehow trusting that we were not there to hurt them. Nevertheless, even with their guarded trust, they still felt like we did not belong there. We were still in their world, and they would prefer that we would leave.
This revelation will not change the fact that we like to hike, nor will it keep us from hiking, because hiking is what we do, but it does give me a new respect for the creatures who live along the trails we like to hike. I feel a new desire to somehow tiptoe through their backyard without disturbing them too much. I want to be the stranger that they allow to pass quietly through, even if they take a guarded stance, because I am not there to hurt them, but rather just to take a peek into their world. All we want is to quietly pass through and drink in the beauty that the animals may not notice any more that we do our own living room, because to them it is normal and everyday, but to us it is extraordinary.
I have long admired this scanned picture I have of my Aunt Ruth, but until I went to visit my cousin, I didn’t know the whole story about it or about my aunt and uncle. The original for this picture was taken a long time ago, when my aunt was a young woman of 18 years, and there were no color pictures. That was a fact that hadn’t occurred to me until my cousin, Shirley told me that my Aunt Ruth had painted the color painting from the original black and white photo. I was shocked. It was so good. It really looked just like my aunt. I had no idea that she was so talented. Then to add to my surprise, Shirley told me that this was only one of many paintings my Aunt Ruth, her mother had painted. She told me that she never liked still life, like fruit bowls or vases of flowers, but preferred live subjects like wildlife, scenery, and people. I can see why that was. Still life would have been a horrible waste of a great talent. Shirley tells me that she painted a moose, a bear, an elk, and big horn sheep, as well as a painting of my Uncle Jim, that looked just like him. Unfortunately, in the years following my aunt’s death, their home was burned to the ground, and all the paintings, except this one that Shirley has, were lost. That is such a tragedy, because these paintings simply cried out to be seen.
Aunt Ruth’s talent didn’t stop at art, however. She could pick up any musical instrument and within a couple of minutes, she could play it like a pro. For anyone who couldn’t play an instrument, no matter how hard you tried, the idea of someone picking it up and just knowing how to play is beyond belief. Shirley told me that she almost felt jealous of her mother’s talent sometimes. I know how she feels, since I have the distinct talent of making an instrument sound like a sick duck, and that is about the extent of my musical ability concerning all musical instruments. They are best left to others.
And Aunt Ruth wasn’t the only one with artistic talent. My Uncle Jim used to make cabinets and cupboards that were beautiful. He could make that wood just sing. He and Aunt Ruth would design them, to give each one its own special beauty. They made a matching set of beds for their boys, Larry and Terry, that were one of a kind. I’m sure that they were beautiful, and I wish I could have seen some of them, but unfortunately, any cabinets my uncle still had, like the paintings of my Aunt Ruth, were lost in the fire that took all of that beautiful artwork. It makes me sad to think that my aunt and uncle are gone from us now, not just because such artistic talent is gone, but because they were so much more than just the talents they possessed. Even if they hadn’t had one bit of artistic talent at all, they would still have been special to me…because I loved them both very much.
After Mount Saint Helens blew up, and it had been deemed safe for tourism, my parents took a trip to Washington to visit my sister, Caryl and her family who were living in the Seattle area at the time. They decided to take a trip to see Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I’m not sure how many years after the eruption their trip was, but I do remember them telling me about how totally barren the whole place was. They told us about the buried cars and homes sticking out of the ash…broken and ruined. During that eruption, 57 people lost their lives, as well as countless numbers and species of wildlife. I can’t imagine the way that whole area must have felt to be in…so quiet and empty of life…almost like being on another planet.
Yes, it would be a trip of a lifetime…to be able to see an area devastated by a volcano eruption. It is such a powerful act of nature, and yet, behind it all is such a great loss of life and destruction of such beautiful land, and in this case, even a loss of the beautiful mountain top, now forever changed. So many trees were destroyed, literally blown over and burned in minutes. It is so strange to think that one minute the area was filled with wildlife, trees, and flowers, not to mention people…and the next minute it was all gone. Yes, they knew it was coming, but I’m sure many people truly didn’t believe it would happen, or at least that it would not be as bad as it was. I think that if they could have known what was coming, they would have left the area, but their minds couldn’t wrap themselves around that reality…in fact I don’t think most of the nation expected the eruption to be what it was. I know I was shocked by how devastating it was.
It has been over 32 years since that shocking day in our nation’s history. When I came across the pictures of my parents’ trip through the area, I began to wonder what the area looks like now. It would seem that the area is slow to return to life, but then I suppose that ash makes poor soil for many things to grow in. Weeds might do ok there, but trees and grass…maybe not so much. I don’t know how my parents or my sister, Caryl and her family felt about the area, but their pictures told the story of a disaster of epic proportions.