Imagine thinking that things that have no substance, actually do have substance. I know that sounds odd, but consider our shadow. It is caused by our body coming between the sun and the ground. We have all seen them, and most of us give them no thought at all. Now consider a two year old girl, who notices her shadow for the first time. Suddenly, something strange is following her and she cannot get away from it. Many of this little ones actually become quite upset, and telling them it is ok, or it is only their shadow doesn’t help at all. Explaining what creates a shadow to a two year old doesn’t help either, because they are too young to figure out what you are saying. To them, the shadow is a thing of substance…a stranger, and the child does not like it. While a little child being afraid of their shadow is pretty normal, what of other things that have no substance being mistaken for things of substance.
In reality, it is probably just people being able to use their imagination, like the little girl who was the subject of a photograph taken by Adam Diston in 1886. Little is known about the photographer himself, but his imagination and creative thought are fascinating to me. I did find out he was born 1827 in Edinburgh and spent the greater majority of his life as a photographer. I don’t know if the little girl thought you could cut a sunbeam or not, but maybe…just for a moment it seemed possible that something without substance, could have substance. Diston brought that out in her, and in his picture, made it almost believable. I think he might have been a truly great photographer.
And what of the wind? Wind can blow all around you and still you stand in the same place, and yet, if you raise your jacket over your head, it can fill the fabric and take you for a little ride. We can’t go far on just jacket power, but put that same wind in a sail, connected to a boat and you can travel the world. And yet, a breeze goes by almost unnoticed…because it has no real substance…at least not until we harness it. Or in the case of a sunbeam, we imagine it’s substance. And in the case of the shadow, we envision it as a person…a stranger. It’s all in how we see things.
The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.
Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!
After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.
After serving in the Navy for six years, my nephew, Allen Beach decided that it was time to move on to get the education that he wanted, which is hospital administration. He began his Navy career planning to become a pilot, but an injury forced him out of the program early on. He then decided to become a Corpsman, and found that he had a knack for that. His first duty station was in Bethesda, Maryland at Walter Reed Rational Military Medical Center, a term of service he was very proud of. While there, he was one of the EMTs who took care of the medical needs of the first family.
After his term at Walter Reed Medical Center, Allen was stationed in Japan, which is where he met his future wife, Gabby, who was also a Corpsman stationed at the same base. Needless to say, Allen was very happy with his time in Japan, and meeting the love of his life. After that, Allen left the Navy, and for Gabby’s final year, they were stationed back at Walter Reed Medical Center. Now that both of them are out of the Navy, they have decided to move to Casper, Wyoming so that Gabby can continue her education too. Casper College has an excellent nursing program, and that is her chosen field. So, upon their release from the Navy, the headed west.
At this point, Allen and Gabby are living in an apartment on his mom and step-dad’s land outside of town. I’m sure that is quite a culture shock to them after the hustle and bustle of the Washington DC area. In addition, they are getting used to the winters in Wyoming. Not that they never got snow in Japan or in Washington DC, but I don’t think they had the winds like we have here. One nice thing about the move was the ability to be closer to family. Allen and Gabby were able to spend Christmas week in Rawlins with the family there, and they all had a great time. They have really taken to country living, and other than the severe cold causing their pipes to freeze, life is good. Allen is still looking for a job, so once he gets a job they will be set, as his classes are online. We are very proud of all of his s accomplishments, and we know that the future will be bright for both of them. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Yesterday, I heard the news that one of the iconic giant sequoia trees, located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, is gone. The tree had been hollowed out to allow cars to drive through it. The Pioneer Cabin Tree, usually referred to as simply the “tunnel tree,” is estimated to be over 1,000 years old. It was knocked over by a powerful winter storm that slammed into California on Sunday. While the tunnel had been carved out of the tree, it was still very much a living tree.
I immediately though back to a vacation my husband, Bob and I took a few years back, that took us through the scenic Redwood National Park in northern California. While the tree that we were able to drive through was not the one that was toppled in this storm, I still felt the loss of that amazing tree. The giant sequoia is the world’s largest tree, after all, and it is only found in the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It can reach a height of 325 feet. This particular tree, called the Pioneer Cabin Tree was actually hollowed out in about 1880. For a long time, cars drove through the iconic tree, but in recent years, it was only accessible by hiking trail. I thought about the tree we drove through, and how much fun it was to see such a huge tree. I was quite saddened by the loss of this beautiful tree.
Apparently, a volunteer, Jim Allday was in the park on Sunday when the tree came crashing down. It was about 2 pm, and the tree splintered on impact. The thing that he found most concerning was that visitors had been walking through the tree just hours earlier. He went out to the site to find the tree on the ground, and what looked like a pond or river running through it. The river was most likely the cause of the tree’s demise. The powerful winter storm brought heavy rain and snow to the area. It was the worst flooding in over a decade. The storm forced the closing of Yosemite National Park. It brought with it, hurricane-force winds of over 100 miles per hour. The wind and soggy ground were just too much for the giant tree. For people in the area, and anyone who has ever had the opportunity to see the tree and the park, it feels like losing a famous historical figure, and at 1,000, it was a great historical figure indeed.
When I was a little girl, we had a rocking pony. Most families with little ones did. It was a great entertainment item. I don’t know how my sisters felt about that pony, or if they ever had a chance to ride it if I was around, because I loved that pony!! According to my mom, it was the most important toy I had. I rode it everyday…sometimes all day…or at lease until my mom said I had to take a nap, eat dinner, or go somewhere. Otherwise, that pony was my baby. I might have agreed to leave the pony if we could play with kittens or something like that, because I loved kittens too. You see, there were important things in life, but some things are just more important. That pony and kittens…in my life, those things were just more important.
Mom liked to take pictures of her girls, especially when we were all dressed up in the frilly dresses she liked to dress us in. Usually this was not a problem. Like most kids, we liked having our picture taken, but if we were very near my pony…I could be easily distracted. The lure of a ride on my pony was so strong. The pony was so much fun. I rode it hard. I never rocked the horse, I galloped. The pony and I rode so hard that the base came off the floor and eventually put ruts in the wood. How could pictures possibly live up to that? They couldn’t in my book. That pony was the coolest toy ever!!
I don’t recall my thoughts from those rides, but I have a pretty good idea that I was thinking of galloping along the prairie in the wind…or maybe all I thought of was how it felt while I was riding that horse…as fast as I could go. Whenever I was on that pony, speed was all that mattered. It made riding hard to resist. It was also hard to think about silly things like getting a picture taken. I have to wonder if my parents got frustrated with me sometimes, or if they simply understood.
Sometimes, Mom and Dad lost the battle for the photo, where I was concerned, because while my sister, Cheryl Masterson always posed nicely for the pictures they wanted to taken, sometimes, I just couldn’t be bothered, because my pony and I had places to go, people to see, and things to do. As I said, some things are just more important that other things. That was my pony…the most important thing in my little world, so Cheryl was in the picture and I was in the background.
For a number of years now, Bob and I have made a trip to Thermopolis each year in early March in celebration of our wedding anniversary, which is March 1st. Driving through the Wind River Canyon that many times, I feel like I know the face of those canyon walls pretty well. Since rainy weather has dominated this Spring, many areas of the state of Wyoming and several other states, flooding is a word that we have all gotten used to hearing. Since our state has been in a relative draught for a number of years, the ground has had a hard time absorbing all that water that has been coming in. And then there is the fact that we have had a few fires in key areas around the state. That adds an additional danger to certain areas…one of which is the Wind River Canyon, which was hit with mudslides and rockslides earlier this year.
This morning, Bob and I decided to take a drive up to Thermopolis to see for ourselves, exactly how the canyon face had been changed by the mudslides. Our granddaughter, Shai Royce decided to come along to see it too. We had seen the pictures of it on television and on the internet when it happened, but you really can’t get a clear picture of something like that until you see it up close. So, after breakfast we set out. It was a nice drive up to the Wind River Canyon, and at first, it didn’t look so different, but then we got to the area where the main slides were. It was much different.
I expected it to look different, and it did, but what I didn’t expect was to have it occur to me that I was looking at the changing face of the canyon. I thought about how the canyon had changed over the years of its existence. The river made most of the changes that had taken place, slowly carving out the depth of it with erosion. Soon, its walls were high and filled with the hard rocks that had survived the erosion process. The trees grew along the face of the walls, and in time we all thought it wouldn’t change much, but rock and mudslides can change the face of those canyon walls overnight. I found myself thinking about how easy it was to pick out the slide path of each slide area. The coloring of the upturned earth made it stand out as if it were florescent paint. I was able to see the complete path the mud and rocks took on their way down.
I realized that this was just one event, but it didn’t matter, because I was looking at the changes brought about by time. This was the canyon’s changing face, caused by the effects of weather, water, wind, and fire to bring about an entirely new look to a canyon that had been there so long, looking, or so I thought, always the same. In reality, it was ever changing.
I’m not a wind lover. In fact, most of the time the wind annoys me, but there are things that actually require the wind to accomplish their goal. I remember as a kid, trying to fly a kite a few times. I was never very good at it, which is probably why I didn’t do it very much. Nevertheless, I love watching someone, who knows how, fly a kite. There is just something about watching that kite floating effortlessly on air…provided I don’t necessarily have to be sitting outside in the wind when all that is going on. Watching from my car or my window works just fine for me. One of my favorite times to watch kite flying is when it is a little kid trying to do it. Their little legs just don’t go fast enough to get the kite in the air, but the have a really great time trying…at least for a while. Then they get frustrated, just like everyone else, and if you don’t help them get that kite in the air, they are pretty much over the whole thing.
I love watching the birds on a windy day. What we consider an annoyance, they look at as the perfect way to play. They spread their wings and head into the wind. The wind holds them in place, without even having to try to fly. And they can stay there like that for quite a while. It seems so effortless, and yet, it might be a lot of work for them for all we know. Nevertheless, to see a bird in hover mode is as cool as watching them soar into the wind in playful flight. Here in Casper, we have some pigeons that fly around in the downtown area. I know that the downtown merchants don’t really like them much, because of the mess they leave, but if you sit down for just a few minutes and watch them dip and soar, always in a group, always of one accord, always beautiful, you will find yourself having a hard time faulting them for the mess…or at least that’s how I feel.
For me personally, a windy day is such an annoyance. It messes up my hair, and believe me, there is not enough hair spray on the planet, instant freeze or otherwise, to make your hair stay in place on a windy day. Still, the kid me remembers wearing a jacket out on a windy day, and lifting it above my head to make a sail, and letting the wind pull me out into it a little. It makes me feel just a little bit like a bird or maybe a kite, and reminds me that even the wind has its good points, few as they may be. Maybe I should give that whole jacket sailing thing a try again sometime…I mean, maybe floating on air would lend a little bit of freedom to an otherwise responsibility filled life.
As much as I dislike snow, and the inevitable wind that always seems to come with it, there are times when, if I have just a moment of free time, and if I stop long enough, I can look at the snow and possibly see something beautiful. It’s hard to do that though…slow down…look around…stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Everything in life these days demands a hectic schedule. Every day I try to cram everything I need to do into a day that doesn’t have enough moments in it, let alone hours.
I had just such a moment on New Years Eve. I had the day off, and Bob had to work. I still had my caregiving duties, but I had a little bit of quiet time late in the morning. I took a look outside, and there it was. The wind had quit. The snow was a little bit windblown, but smooth in many ways. The sun had come out and was shining brightly on the snow. The air was cold…frigid really, but it didn’t matter. I stepped outside, and looked at the snow. The sun was so bright, it made my eyes water, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
The snow was beautiful, but looking deeper I saw what the snow tries to hide from those who just casually glance at it. So often we miss the deep inner beauty of the snow. There in front of my eyes I saw the riches of the snow…the gems that it had been hiding…snow diamonds. “What”, you might ask, “are snow diamonds?” Well, they are not just ice crystals sparkling in the sunshine. They are much more than that. They are the little glimmer of hope that no matter how heavy our burdens are…no matter how tough our job or our life is…there are still beautiful things around us that can lift our spirits, brighten our days, soothe our souls, and mend the brokenness that comes from a life that is lived far too often in a hurry.
As I stood there in the crisp cold air, looking once more at the beauty that had been pointed out to me by my Lord, in an effort to show me the things He has made that I might have missed, I felt a warmth inside me…a smile that started in my heart and after making a brief stop in my consciousness, it came to rest on my face. I closed my eyes so I could fix the image in my memory. With their beauty, the snow diamonds had completed their appointed work. They had lifted this caregiver’s spirit…brightened my day…and made me feel like I could breathe again.
Along about this time of year, my thoughts turn to Summer. I know that sounds odd, since it is almost officially Winter, but since Winter is the season I dislike the most, I start thinking about Summer. The days start getting longer after the 21st of December, so for me that signals the down hill run to Summer. I like being outdoors, but not in the cold weather, so I don’t ski, snowmobile, or any of the other Winter sports. For me, it is hiking in a beautiful, warm, green forest that turns my mood around…and there is just something about making it past that half way mark between one Summer and the next Summer that puts a little skip in my step.
It is at this point that I feel like I can survive the cold, dark Winter, which has not, at least so far, been so cold this year…but then, we are just getting started really. The wind this years, however, is a very different story. What we have lacked in cold, we have definitely made up for in wind. I’m not really sure which one I think is worse, but a good guess by a very small margin would be the wind. After a couple of days of constant wind, I find myself begging for the storm to just get here already!!
Wyoming is, nevertheless, my home, and I don’t expect to ever live anywhere else. I have resigned myself to our Winters, and like every other Winter since I was 3, I will survive this Wyoming Winter too, but I do find myself liking them less and less every year. The Summers here are wonderful, usually just to my liking. We have had some that were viciously hot, and some that didn’t feel like Summer at all, but for the most part, it is a time when I can bask in the sunshine and warmth of the season, and believe me…I do not think of Winter around the middle of June.
Winter has never been my favorite time of year because of the slick roads, wind, and cold, but one thing about winter that I love is the beautiful snow scenes. Sometimes, it is like looking at a Hallmark card. The snow glistens in the sunlight, like diamonds in a necklace. The leaves mostly gone are replaced with snow and frost…Winter’s lace.
Light snow falling gently to the ground, brings a sense of peace and quiet, so that you can almost hear the snowflakes touching the ground. The wind has calmed with the snow’s appearance, and it brings a quietness to both mind and spirit. If you happen to venture out in the evening, under the street lights, the snowflakes look like falling stars twinkling all the way to the ground. It feels like you are walking in a wonderland. It almost seems like make believe. The air is crisp and cold, and add that to the quiet, and you can feel like you are completely alone in the world.
A light snow that sticks to the tree branches becomes like a lacy dress, especially in the moonlight on a crisp, cold night. It’s hard to capture that in pictures sometimes, but when you do, they are amazing, and so you take a little bit of time to try to capture the perfect picture of Night Lace. Finally, you succeed, and then it’s time to head for home.
Walking home in the cold Winter air, makes you finally long for home, The cold air finally creeps into your bones. The snow flakes gently flutter to the ground, and make you want to snuggle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa, and just soak in the fire’s warmth. These Winter evenings seem to encourage those cozy moments by the fire, with the smell of the burning wood, and the crackling of the fire. The hot cocoa begins to make you feel tired, and ready for a warm bed and sweet sleep, but your mind continues to linger on the beauty of Winter’s Lace.