Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trees & Sky

Yesterday I helped a neighbor move his cattle from a leased pasture to the home range. It was an all-day job, even though it wasn't supposed to be. Seems like everything takes longer than it's supposed to, especially where critters are concerned.

We have a lot of sky here, but we don't have many trees. When you do see 'em you are probably looking at an old homestead or a defunct ranch headquarters. On my way home after a day in the corrals I saw this scene, against a nicely-developing sunset. It's an old homestead. Nothing still standing there, but remnants of an old barn and some old foundations. Even the trees are dying now. Cottonwoods are not what you'd call long-lived vegetables.

Whenever I see a place like this I think of the lives that were lived out there; the hopes that blossomed, and sometimes died; the children who learned about life there and then, probably, went somewhere else to try out what they had learned.

The Lakota and Cheyenne who lived here before we came onto the land had a saying: "Only earth and sky last forever." Change is relentless and pitiless, as we have learned from our recent election. But change isn't always good or admirable or to be desired. I'm not a Luddite, or even a fogey (I don't think!), but when I pass an old homestead I can almost hear the joyous cries of children as they share rides on the pony, or chase or are chased happily by the family dog. If you listen closely you can almost hear Mom calling them in to supper, or see the lights come on in the windows as the sun goes to sleep for the day and the cold wind rises out of the northwest.


Chris said...

Beautiful and peaceful.

Bob Anderson said...

Did you ever think about metal detecting those old homestead to see what around?

Brigid said...

The post was exquisite, as was the picture.

On the old farm we lived on when I was married, there was a farm house, very small, built probably 20 yards from where the new one was built. Almost side by side, the old one was falling down and covered with brush when we first moved in. I carefully walked through it one day, finding a couple of beautiful old doors and doorknobs I could restore. I don't know who had owned the place, but the cobwebs and dust were but wispy fragments of the lives that had lived here, loved here, and died nurturing the land.

My husband wanted to tear it completely down. I couldn't, for as the Lakota would say I was looking at it. . "chante ista", with the one eye of the heart.


Anonymous said...

That's a nice picture. Somebody could put a good home up there and have a terrific view. But then, you'd have more people moving in around you and that's not a good thing. I know from personal experience.

Rio Arriba said...

H., People are moving OUT, not IN. When a friend in Ireland learned of where I was moving he bet me 1000-euro that within five years there would be five new families moving into my area. He was basing that on what he knows about Ireland. I plan to collect that bet.

BobG said...

Beautiful photo.
It would be a strange place for me to live; I'm used to seeing mountains around all the time. For me, the horizon is at about 30-40ยบ. I'd feel like I was on a mountain top all the time. Would like to spend some time there, however, since I do enjoy a certain amount of solitude.

Roxie said...

When I search for old homesteads to photograph, I look for trees on the horizon. Trees in our treeless country are a sign of human habitation, of hope for the future. Unfortunately, that hope often failed the people who planted those trees. I can often hear the ghostly cries of the people who once lived there, but now ghosts are all that's left.