Summertime in Wyoming

From the Farm:


Published in the Casper Journal July 21, 2010

It’s summertime—and I remember again why I live in Wyoming.  After too many months of winter, snow, cold and wind—daylight and warmth are finally here.
In the morning, the sun shines through my window and wakes me up, just past 5am.  I quickly open all of the windows and doors; I don’t want to miss a minute of the glorious warmth.  The smell of sage, dampened by the night rain, is fresh and invigorating. 
Our wild pheasant, nicknamed “Phil,” screeches as I walk outside.  He flutters to a safe distance across our field, and watches as I say good morning to the chickens. They squawk and peck as they jump down from their coop and begin their morning, eating bugs.  Nearing the garden, a bunny scampers out of my path.  He didn’t eat much, and I don’t mind having him there.   The lettuce, potatoes, and corn are green and growing, making a perfect picture on the dark earth. 
Down our hill, the North Platte River flows by.  Canadian geese honk on its banks, and I see a herd of deer in the meadow.  This river has seen history—pioneers along its banks—and now it’s mine to enjoy.
Summer doesn’t just bring out the animals, it brings out the people.  “Good morning,” calls my neighbor from the road as she passes during her walk.  Another neighbor strolls by with his dog, going to get the mail.  They stop and chat, and soon we are caught up on all of the neighborhood news.
By mid-morning, my children are outside as well.  They love the summer days.  “Be back in a while,” they call, and run up the hill to where they are tending the animals for a neighbor on vacation. 
In the afternoon, we go down to the pond.  The children paddle around in their little rafts and try to catch fish.  The younger ones build castles and moats on the sandy beach. 
“Look!  We caught a frog!”  My boys come up with a green frog in their bucket.  “Can we keep him?”  Their shorts are dripping with pond water, and their faces are brown with the sun.  Is this a scene out of Huck Finn?  No.  Just a summer day in Wyoming.
One weekend we travel to Yellowstone.  The ground there is sacred; I can feel it the minute we pass through the gate into the park.  Towering mountains, billions of trees, and meadows with blue streams…an indescribable treasure.  The hallowed hills work their magic on my family, and after a few nights in the crisp air, my children’s eyes are bright and their faces shining with summer.
On July 3rd, the neighborhood gathers for a “barn dance.”  Inside a large barn we eat a potluck dinner and sit on bales of hay, listening to a live band.  Flags flutter from the rafters and children and adults stamp and clap to the music. 
‘What could be better than a patriotic barn dance?’ I wonder.  Do communities like this really still exist? People from the big city would have to see it to believe it.
In the summer evenings we sit on our porch and chat with friends.  The sun stays up late, and so do my children.  They play capture the flag, hide and seek and tag until it’s too dark to see.  Even then, the air is warm, and it takes a while to herd them into the house.  When I finally climb into my bed it’s late.  With my window shade up, I can see thousands of stars.  Wow.  The only sound is the chirping crickets, the river, and a distant train. 
“We’re so lucky!” whispers my husband.  And I agree.  Yes, I’ll stay through another winter.  The long, cold days that eventually turn golden are worth it.  This is heaven.  Summertime in Wyoming.

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