Walking in Wonderland
The landscapes of our childhood stay with us forever.
Some of us are fortunate to grow old on the same stretch of earth where we were born.
Others venture off - traveling, studying, working, caring for family and friends across the country and the planet.
Wherever we might roam, scenes from our youth hang in the back of our minds and hearts like gold-framed photographs. And when we take the time to stop and note those images, they come to life.
The Bowels of Martinsdale
Before I arrived back home in Montana, I already had the next few weeks planned out.
When I wasn’t working on my house, I wanted to be in the backcountry, getting to know my new “neighborhood” - the Crazies and Castles and Little Belts - by taking long, relaxing treks with my dogs.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my previous column, the day after I arrived in Martinsdale, Jigs, my German Jagd Terrier, fell ill from bloat after a swim in the reservoir.
As any living being with a gastrointestinal tract understands, a case of excruciatingly painful gas can make even the most levelheaded soul act irrationally. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “A man cannot be in love with a toothache.” Try a bad case of bloat...
A Trip Home
After driving 2 days and 1500 miles, I finally pulled my vehicle into Martinsdale right before midnight.
The four dogs toppled out of the tiny Toyota and immediately took up the task of rodent-removal, shoving and rooting their way through the dense lilacs acting as a windbreak around the entire house.
Just 12 hours earlier, we were in eastern South Dakota literally sitting on ice packs to keep ourselves cool - the car’s air conditioning was no match for the 110 degree heat index on the open plains.
Now - finally - we were home.
The cool, dry evening air transformed the dogs from panting, watery-eyed, shade-seeking blobs into animated predators. I collapsed onto the grass and looked up at the sky - you can’t see stars like this just anywhere...
Pass the Noodle, Please
I am excited to get to work on my new goal of becoming a better swimmer, but my lessons don’t start until August. After a little research, I discovered water aerobics classes are offered daily at public pools around Indianapolis.
Splashing around in some shallow water with a bunch of elderly women seemed like an easy and relaxing way to tune up my atrophied mermaid muscles and pass the time until my real lessons begin.
And, at the very least, the hour-long dip would be a reprieve from the suffocating blanket of wet heat that’s been draped across the city for over a week now.
I decided it would be best to avoid the neighborhood pools.
MT Rancher's Tan
Yesterday, I bought a bathing suit.
As far as I’m concerned, this purchase is half the battle.
How many women out there are interested in swimming for exercise and fun but never take the bold leap to step into a sports store to obtain the necessary getup?
I haven’t purchased a real bathing suit in I don’t know how long.
Montana is partially to blame. I am proud of the fact that I live in one of the last best places on the planet for skinny-dipping.
My friend, Maureen (Mo), is preparing to take a pilgrimage.
I confess that I’m a little jealous - I wish I could join her. But mostly, I’m excited that she’ll soon be walking the St. James Pilgrimage Trail across northern Spain, something we’ve both dreamed of doing since we first learned about the spiritual journey while hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 1997.
St. James Way (The Way) is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where Saint James’ remains are believed to be buried. The Way has existed for over 1000 years, and was a key Christian pilgrimage during medieval times.
Traditionally, pilgrimages began at one’s home, setting off from the doorstep on foot or donkey, and ended at the pilgrimage site.
Last winter, deep snow and thick ice kept the fair-weather walkers off of my favorite hiking trail in Indianapolis. I could always count on running into one other diehard on the path though; a woman - wearing ski gaiters, pac boots, ice cleats, and a down overcoat - moved in slow motion next to her arthritic Weimaraner.
One morning, as my pack of three dogs mingled with her hound, the woman and I struck up a conversation.
Within minutes, we discovered a connection of both place and purpose.
“It was always our dream to move to Montana after we retired,” the woman explained, as she rubbed her old dog’s ears. “Unfortunately, my husband and I weren’t in Kalispell very long before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. We stayed as long as we could, and then we decided to return to Indy to be close to family...”
Last Thursday morning when I sat down to my computer, multiple e-mails with the subject header, “Have you seen Melanie Gould?” filled my inbox.
The news was disturbing. Melanie Gould, a fellow Iditarod musher, was missing from her home in Talkeetna, Alaska, and had been since May 31st.
Very little information was provided in the articles, but one specific detail made my heart sink - Melanie’s 12 dogs were found at home alone. Like her friends who set up a Facebook page to coordinate information between the public and search teams, I couldn’t imagine Melanie leaving her dogs without making any provisions for their care - this was a very bad sign.
I felt helpless reading about Melanie’s disappearance from thousands of miles away at my parents’ home in Indianapolis. For two days, I checked the public Facebook page often, hoping for some positive news.
Bulldogs VS Huskies
Even though Butler University lost last week’s NCAA Division 1 Men’s Championship, I’m still wearing
my favorite Bulldog t-shirt.
Go ahead. Make all of the wise cracks you like. There’s no denying this year’s final game was pure misery to witness; both Butler and U Conn had a lousy night. I’m not here to write a sports column, breaking the game down to worthless bits from my easy chair. Butler didn’t make the shots. Game over.
But I will admit that after the final buzzer, the game was far from done for me. I sat up half the night, feeling so horrible for the Mid-major Butler boys who worked their butts off to climb to the top of the bracket two years in a row.
You can’t help but want great things for exceptional people who push so hard. Butler’s loss reminded me of the pain I feel when I see an Olympic figure skater fall in the final performance or a dog musher scratch from the Iditarod or a marathoner fade just a mile from the finish line.
Send Me A Postcard
It’s difficult to find good postcards anymore.
Gas stations once were the place to them; a rack of postcards always stood just inside of every door. Nowadays because I pay with plastic, I rarely step foot inside of a gas station. But when I do go in search of a variety of local cards, I’m often disappointed.
Where have all of the postcards gone?