Prairie beauty. 

There is a unique beauty the prairie possesses. The starkness out here is as rugged as the frontier spirit.  This is a part of the world that would prefer things stay known, steady and traditional. It never does. Shifts occur. 

I’m visiting my family in South Dakota now. I can see both the independence I reveled in as a teenager AND the uncertainty about how the world is changing.  Understanding this duality fosters my curiosity about things unknown. I like that. I’m grateful for both my independence and my deep roots here. 

Life is a puzzle, people are puzzling and sometimes all we can do is keep looking between the cushions or under the couch for the piece we’re missing. 

Let’s all keep seeking understanding and looking for the missing pieces folks. Let’s ask more questions of eachother than lecture. I do believe a little curiosity can change the world or at least your holiday table.  It will be a much shorter drive home from Grandma’s if everyone felt heard and respected. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

LOVE & picking up sharp things on the road

Last Thursday morning I embarked on a trip to South Dakota to spend some time with my family because of some health challenges.  I hired a driver to get me the to the airport in plenty of time.  I hate to be late and I was afraid the bus ride and long TSA lines might’ve put unnecessary stress on my travels.

My driver, Phil and I had such a compassionate conversation about our struggles that after crying in the car together we needed a hug for closure at Boston Logan Airport.  I was so boosted by the support of this complete stranger.  It was the tonic I needed to step into my childhood home with open arms and very light baggage (in both the literal & figurative senses) and ready to be of service to my clan.

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By the time I landed in Chicago, where I was waiting to meet my 20-year-old son for the last leg of our journey, I had a very simple realization.

If I could connect with my driver so easily and we could be of some comfort to each other—why don’t I just try to LOVE the whole world?

Our culture sees so many US & THEM distinctions, these come from fear, hardwired messages we aren’t even conscious of—or believing in a perceived superiority over others. I’m often guilty myself.  I’m no saint.  I’m just trying this BIG LOVE concept on for size.

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So far, I have to say I think it’s a pretty cool way to view the world.  It’s exhausting to constantly be assessing our appropriate reactions and responses in every situation.  LOVE actually gives you more free time.  I’m a big fan of FREE TIME.  Aren’t you?

I walked through the airport feeling like I had cracked the code on an ancient secret that had been waiting for me.  What if I moved through the world not just being “polite” but offering LOVE to everyone on some level?  Now, this doesn’t mean LOVING THE WHOLE WORLD the way I love my family and friends, but it does mean broadening how I define LOVE.

This morning as I walked to the post office I found all of these sharp, potentially tire destroying objects on the road.  I thought about what a simple act it is to pick up sharp objects.  It wasn’t hard for me at all.  I’m always drawn to shiny objects on the road.

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I like thinking this really simple action might’ve spared some real heartache—a popped car or bike tire…an appointment missed, someone’s pay docked or an unplanned expense for the repair.  By removing the possibility of some  heartache, I guess that’s LOVE on some level, right?

 

Prairie Stories

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These images were shot mostly south of Burke, South Dakota near or in Jamison, Nebraska (the road shot with the cars and four wheelers) while I was visiting my family last week.  Only the clothesline was shot in town.  There is nothing like clean sheets on the line drying in the sun.  I wandered around this farmstead and wondered what it was like when it was in operation.  It’s a gorgeous setting.  If anyone has any information about this farm please let me know.

I hope you discover some unexpected beauty in your weekend.

 

 

Ponca Creek Cattle Company-part two

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Aunt Cindy knew that I would want to shoot things that most people wouldn’t be too interesting in.  I love shooting metal and shadows.  I could’ve used more time actually.  I will be back, there’s a lot more to explore.  Part three next week.

Ponca Creek Cattle Company—part one

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This last week I had the pleasure of touring the Ponca Creek Cattle Company.  My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Tom own this operation.  My Aunt Cindy grew up on this land and it has been in her family for 100 years.

My Uncle Tom just lit up talking about his cattle company. That was cool.  He might be a banker by trade but he’s a rancher at heart.  I guess I had to leave South Dakota to get more interested in some parts of the world I grew up in.  I could’ve been a rancher, but I fell in love with a boy who grew up by the sea…and much to the chagrin of my family, a Massachusetts Democrat as well. They’ve grown to love him anyway. I digress…

There are terms I had never heard before like breeding “Pathfinders”.  How wonderfully connected to the spirit of South Dakota to hear that certain calves are “Pathfinders”—it’s really quite interesting scientifically.  Tom has found one of the best guys around to be learn best breeding practices from.  A good lesson in “knowing your resources”.  Thanks, Uncle Tom.

I have a lot more pictures, this is only the first installment.  I hope you enjoy this little tour of a South Dakota cattle ranch, west of the Missouri River and not too far from the Nebraska border.

“The Pathfinder Angus program was started in 1978 in an effort to identify superior cows in the breed based on their records of performance from Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR). In identifying these superior cows, emphasis was placed on early puberty, breeding and early calving, followed by regularity of calving and above-average performance of the offspring.

…the Pathfinder Report requires a minimum of three calves from a cow to determine her regularity of calving and ability to produce superior calves for weaning weight year after year. In addition, an important part of the report is the list of bulls that have sired five or more qualifying females.”

(I felt compassionate for these parents.  There’s too much pressure to create superior offspring. Right?)

Here is a link to the American Angus Association if you would like to learn more:

https://www.angus.org/performance/PathfinderInfo.aspx