HERE AT RED CANYON RANCH…
It’s snowing hard in northern Wyoming, our second snow in the past ten days, and a sure sign that summer is over. In anticipation of the storm, this morning we picked the last of our green tomatoes, as well as the tomatillos, tiny squashes, and squash blossoms. After dredging slices in egg and flour, we fried them in olive oil for lunch. They were delicious, more so because we knew they represented the last gasp of summer.
The cottonwoods and aspens are golden now, branches drooping under the weight of snow, but in terms of color the true stars this year are the horse chestnuts. In the wind, they look like shivering flames. We rarely see them so brilliant. Usually the wind batters all the leaves off long before they have a chance to turn crimson and orange. This is, after all, Wyoming, the land of fierce winds. It won’t be a surprise to us if we wake tomorrow and find no leaves on any tree for miles (except, of course, those frozen to the limbs inside chunks of ice). Instead, we expect heavy snow to frost the ledges of Red Canyon and be mounded on the backs of the peacefully grazing buffalo visible in the meadow in front of our house.
We just returned from the most relaxing trip. We rode our thirteen-year-old BMW RT 1100 motorcycle (with 130,000 miles on him—what a magnificent machine) to south Texas to visit family and friends. The ride down was stunning. It stormed the entire way. We camped the first night at the foot of Comb Ridge in Utah, a legendary place dotted by four Anasazi Greathouses--large pueblos that date to around A.D. 1050-1150. Two other campers told us that the raging river we pitched our tent beside had been a dry wash that morning. The water roared until around 4:00 A.M., then gradually subsided to a whisper. We rose early and headed south to have breakfast with our old friend, Win Blevins, at the Twin Rocks Café in Bluff, Utah. (Win wrote the excellent book, Stone Song.) The Twin Rocks Café makes one of our favorite breakfasts in the country: the Sheepherder Breakfast, served with either Navajo fry bread or ash bread. We had a great conversation with Win, smiled a lot, said silly and profound things (he did), and we headed south for Texas, where we saw the most spectacular sunset of our lives just outside Van Horn.
It was 8 P.M. and a full rainbow arched in front of us, with the first stars shining inside it. Behind us, the thunderstorm filled the sky with towering neon orange and pink clouds. It’s impossible to describe the beauty, except to say that illumination must be made of such moments. We had planned to camp in the Davis Mountains that night, but found the road blocked and closed, due to flooding, which sent us on down the road to a hotel in Fort Stockton. Waking in a hotel is just not the same as waking to sunlight on mountain peaks. And breakfast at Denny’s, while good, can’t hold a candle to the smell of bacon cooking over an open fire.
We spent three wonderful days with Kathy’s sister, Karen, and her husband Richard, in Kerrville, Texas. Richard has worked in radio for around thirty years, and Karen is a struggling writer of children’s books. Some day we hope you will all be able to read her charming stories and enjoy them. She writes under the name, K.S. Jones, and has an amazing presence on Pinterest.com. AND, with Karen’s help, we just started our own Pinterest.com site. Please visit and give us advice on how to make it better. We need all the help we can get. Are they other boards we should add? What would you like to see there?
Next, we rode to Marble Falls to hear our friend Mike Blakely play music at the River City Grille. That night he played with Chris Wall (who wrote the song, “I like my women just a little bit trashy”), and Duke Davis. It was a magical evening of great music.
The following day we had lunch with W.C. Jameson and Laurie Wagner Buyer Jameson. Laurie made the most delicious sweet-potato chili soup, and served it with a jalapeno slaw that was to die for. (Yeah, we know, but we figure stomach linings are probably overrated. A day without jalapenos is like a day without coffee—too horrifying to contemplate). W.C.’s great stories kept us laughing for days. Family and old friends are the glue that holds the world together, aren’t they?
If you’re ever in Llano, Texas, you might want to stop at the Badu Wine Pub on Thursday night when W.C. Jameson and Mike Blakely play music outside under the stars. Great food, great wine, great entertainment, and all set in a beautiful historical building.
But…it’s always good to come home.
We made it back two nights ago, and spent yesterday checking on the buffalo and fixing fence that had been knocked down by elk. Mountain lion tracks led the way as we walked the ridge fenceline.
ON THE BOOK FRONT
Today we’re back at work, reading the copyedited manuscript for People of the Morning Star, which comes out in May, 2014. Also, the paperback of People of the Black Sun just hit the shelves! And our favorite read of this month is Bill Groneman’s book, September 11. A Memoir. Bill was a firefighter in New York on that terrible day in 2001. The book is riveting, poignant, and healing, all at once. Thanks, Bill. Let’s hope no one ever forgets.
Well, it’s snowing harder. Heavy wet flakes make quite a blizzard. We can’t see across the canyon now. The buffalo look like small, moving, white mountains. The rails on the buck-and-pole fence that surrounds the house are heaped with about twelve inches of snow, but that number comes and goes with the wind gusts. We hope morning doesn’t bring too many broken branches.
As winter sets in, we hope you and your family are warm. We send our best wishes for a joyous and beautiful October.
Michael and Kathleen