Whether We Perceive It or Not

Cool mountain air drifted in through our open window, carrying high-pitched beeps and deep rumblings that broke into my slumber. I lay in the dark of our tiny room at the back of the lodge and tried to place it. A tractor? A road grater? I recognized that sound. I knew what it wasn’t but not what it was. And then I remembered. It was a snow groomer. I recalled seeing one as twilight settled across the mountain the afternoon before, its headlights flickering between the distant trees as it lumbered across the slope like something straight out of a {Continue Reading}

When Christmas Surprises You

Dad and I crossed the steamy asphalt, melty ice-cream cones in hand. We’d driven cross-country to Yellowstone for a nature-writing seminar and stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs for two reasons: huckleberry ice cream and piano music. The ice cream was a sure thing. The piano music, though? That was a different story. Randy played four or five nights a week and we weren’t sure this was one of them. It’s a stop I make every time I’m in Yellowstone. I heard Randy—or his music anyway—before I saw the piano that poured forth something different from his usual blend of catchy, {Continue Reading}

Christmas In August

  Steamy air radiated from the asphalt as we crossed the road in front of the diner. Dad and I had traveled to Yellowstone for a nature writing seminar and a quick stop at Mammoth Hot Springs for an ice cream cone marked the transition from our leisurely tour of the park and three days of learning at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch. Huckleberry ice cream cones in hand, we wandered over to the hotel to see if Randy Ingersoll  was playing that evening. Inside the lobby, cool air carried the sound of music and slowed the purple flow of ice cream {Continue Reading}

No: A Long Bridge to Yes

When I slipped off the wide gravel road and into the woods, I knew it was a risk. The worn, earthen trail between the trees was wore a dark, saturated look, as if just a few drops of rain would transform it into shoe-sucking mud. At first it was solid and often grassy. Before long, though, I heard the unmistakable squish of a boggy trail under my feet. I picked my way over and around and through the sloppy path and emerged at the edge of a clearing that could have been called a swamp. Because it was shallow and {Continue Reading}

When the Mind Won’t Stop {5 Ideas That Might Help}

There you are, on the couch with your kids, in the stands at the game, at the coffee shop with a friend. You’re sitting. You’re supporting. You’re socializing. But you haven’t stopped. You’ve pushed pause. Your body is still, at least enough to watch and cheer and talk, but your mind is running. Writing a grocery list. Rehashing a conversation. Remembering the mountain of laundry waiting at home for a reboot. What’s to be done with a mind that resists the pause button, a mind that won’t stop? Set it. Set its direction. Set is tone. Set its limits. Set {Continue Reading}

Where She Belonged

I woke, just after midnight, to contractions. Forcing myself to remain motionless under the covers, I tried to convince myself that it was nothing more than a long series of Braxton-Hicks and go back to sleep. But the contractions were strong and regular, each one arriving with just a little less time between it and the one before, and the baby wasn’t due for another six weeks. When our previous baby made her entrance into the world, she’d been in a rush. Not the early arrival kind of hurry—she’d been overdue. No, she’d arrived just moments after my husband and {Continue Reading}

It Changes Everything

The pontoon pulled away from the dock and turned toward the open water where we drifted past brown and pastel cabins tucked into the trees along the shore. Under the influence of the overcast day, that was all there was to see. The sky, typically the star of our evening cruise, offered nothing but dismal grey gruel. Gloomy clouds stacked up overhead, familiar companions for some part of every day of that week. We were grateful the weather allowed us to be out at all. Between downpours and thunderstorms, electricity-eradicating straight-line winds and near-misses with tornadoes, it had been a {Continue Reading}

A Great Deal Of Good

Two Septembers ago my family spent a few weeks in South Dakota. It wasn’t a vacation; it was a working trip. My husband tucked us away in the hills and commuted every morning into Rapid City. The kids and I did schoolwork and read and whiled away the remains of the day until he came back home. What we did not do was spend much time outdoors. At least, we did not spend much time outdoors without him, thanks to the overzealously detailed Beware of the Mountain Lion literature prominently displayed in the home we rented. Two pages of tiny-typed description featured six photographs of poses a {Continue Reading}

Roads in Transition, Part 2

On December 12 the National Park Service posted a news release to inform the public that Yellowstone’s interior roads would open on December 15, just as predicted. Yellowstone’s fall and winter travelers knew when the road crews would start to let the snow build, when they’d get dangerous, and when they’d be safe for snow machines. They knew. Sometimes I wish I knew. You know, about changes, about transitions. About the things I’m waiting for and the ones I’m dreading. I imagine that a little more information would help me hang on. Often, a more accurate assessment would be that I desperately {Continue Reading}