nature


My word for this year is gratitude, chosen to remind myself to notice and appreciate the good in the world even in--especially in--the tough times. For me, one of the best ways to prompt myself to be grateful for this life and my place in it is to get outside, preferably out of town into wilder landscapes nearby. 


Which is why after several weeks of difficult news personally and in the larger world, I went for a run yesterday afternoon instead of writing this blog post.

Back when Molly was in middle school and high school, we lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the Chihuahuan Desert just 35 miles north of the US-Mexico border. (There we are in the photo above in  grove of native Mexican elder trees in our backyard. My hair was still red and long then, Richard hadn't started shaving his head, and Molly had a cat named Hypoteneuse.)

I went for a run today, my first since I moved home to Cody two months and two days ago. I would say it felt great to be running again, but my relationship with running is much more complicated than that.

I need to run, something I know intellectually. But it takes a lot of emotional energy to talk myself into it, each time. I have an amazing ability to find excuses and wimp out. And then I feel bad because I didn't run. 

When I took Sherrie York's field journal workshop at Rocky Mountain Land Library's Buffalo Peaks campus in August, I came home inspired and vowed to make sketching a part of my creative routine. "I'll do a few sketches every week," I told myself. 

I'm pretty sure that Red sighed with relief when I backed her into the garage late Thursday afternoon, home again after going 4,680 miles in the previous three weeks. (And five of those days we didn't drive anywhere. That's an average of 275 miles per driving day, which doesn't sound too bad until you add it all up!) 

Last night I had the gift of one of those experiences that reminded me that the word "awesome" once meant to be filled with awe, a feeling my dictionary describes as "reverential respect."

Walking between my hotel and the conference center for Colorado's first annual Native Plants in Landscaping Conference yesterday morning, I crossed a large expanse of boring turfgrass lawn, an even larger parking lot, and then a smaller area of closely-mowed grass. As I traversed the mowed area, I looked and listened for signs of the shortgrass prairie that once stretched from horizon to horizon, defining the High Plains.


Eve was a radical. And how I love the word radical because it means going to the roots. --Eve Ensler, from her 2014 talk for the Bioneers Conference


I've been nurturing a radical notion for some time now, one that isn't quite clear yet. But I'm starting to see it take a kind of diaphonous form.


I was sitting out on my front deck late this afternoon, talking to my dad on the phone when I heard a characteristic chiming call.

Spring is springing in my garden thanks to the huge dose of moisture from that pre-Earth Day snow, and there's change ahead for me as well.

Uintah penstemon blooming today in my rock garden. Uinta penstemon blooming today in my rock garden, offering its nectar and pollen to native bees.

What's up?

Last Thursday morning, I woke before dawn to the orange glow of light I associate with snowflakes diffusing the street lamp glare. When I opened the blind, I saw sticky wet flakes piling up.

It's spring, and I've been on the road giving talks and workshops about gardening as a way to restore the earth and our connection to this glorious blue planet.

In the final Saturday panel at the Geography of Hope conference last weekend in Point Reyes Station, California, one speaker said something to the effect that "hope" was worthless in the face of the catastrophe of global climate change. That we couldn't sit around and simply hope things would get better, we needed to act in bold ways, to make radical changes, and we needed to act now. I agree that we need to act in bold ways and now.

For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Last week, a packet of seeds from Renee's Garden, my favorite supplier of easy-to-grow, delicious and beautiful garden seeds landed in my post box, my personal signal that spring is on the way.

If you've ever finished a big project of whatever sort, one that took months or years, and required a kind of intensity and focus that left you feeling hulled out at the end of each day, you know something of what I'm feeling after sending my new memoir, the story I call Bless the Birds off to my agent last Monday.

Today was road trip day: I drove to Colorado Springs to do city errands, including buying cartridges for my computer printer necessary to finishing my memoir. I've been putting this trip off for weeks; I didn't want to spend a day and the energy required to make the four-hour, 230-mile round-trip drive.