No, no….not American Idol. I’m not talkin’ J-Lo or Harry Connick, Jr. Settle down.
Can you remember being a small tyke? Think as far back as you can possibly remember. A time when you couldn’t do everything for yourself, but you were learning. Maybe recall a time when you still wore a onesie pajama.
Do you remember idolizing an older kid who could do so much more than you? Maybe he could saddle his own horse.
Almost saddle his own horse.
This older cowpoke has his own cowboy hat, boots and spurs.
He can climb on tall things without assistance.
He’s a general stud, but you know what the coolest thing about him is? He’s nice and he takes time to play with you….a lowly little kid.
He takes you huntin’ for yyittle yyizards on the rock wall.
He helps a small feller out when he needs a leg up.
This friend is so nice, he allows you to play with the baby frog he caught.
Your friend responds with a sly grin when you ask for the thousandy-eleventh-time, “Can I go to youse house? Can I go to youse house? Bye mommy. Can I go to youse house?
After a long morning of rounding up, branding, working calves, yyizard-hunting, frog-playing, horseback-riding, and chute-climbing, the truck ride back to the chuck wagon can cause your older, idolized friend to get bone-tired.
Your only thought, your sole wish is…..you want to BE him. Just like HIM.
I have lots of bovine friends who are ecstatic, as well.
Photographed a recent branding at the northern NM ranch. Look at the green grass!
I took tons of pictures. Played with all the settings on my camera; shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Figured if I took enough photographs maybe one of them would be worth showing.
This recent foray into ranch photography served to reinforce the principle of the golden hour. Or in reality, the golden FIVE MINUTES known as sunrise/sunset. Let me demonstrate.
Here’s a picture of a couple of cowboys.
An OK photo taken at midday.
Now, take a look at the same cowboys at sunrise.
Be still, my heart! I’m in love with this light. The guys are alright, too.
Why does sunrise have to come so early? A sunrise photographer must be dedicated and carry lots of concealer to cover the bags under her eyes. The flattering light is short-lived.
This young lady and her glistening sorrel horse are simply magnificent. She’s nice and smart, too. She looks beautiful in the golden morning light. These subjects make me look like I know what I’m doing with my camera. Thanks, Cassidy!
Following the light-a metaphor for life, right?
More sunrise glorious-ness.
Unfortunately, there is action that takes place AFTER sunrise. I did the best I could.
I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve got to get up early and stay up late to get the most outstanding photos.
Hope you enjoyed branding day at the ranch. Now I’m off to purchase more concealer.
I know this thirst will not last long for it will soon drown in a song not sung in vain,
I feel the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain, and I hear the prairies calling out Your name.
Rich Mullins, Calling Out Your Name
The view from my window took a decidedly interesting turn last week.
One week I’m playing a brothel whore in The Threepenny Opera.
The next week I’m guiding Amarillo artistAndrew DeJesse through the petroglyph cave at the ranch. Go ahead, reward yourself. Take a minute to peek at his art.
Andrew provided the interesting art gracing the cover of Amarillo Opera’s program last season. Seems our executive director, David O’Dell, wants Andrew to provide his unique viewpoint to our cover again this year. David thought viewing some ranch scenery and crawling through the petroglyph cave could fuel Andrew’s imagination. I became the chief tour guide.
Andrew was an excellent sport.
I enjoyed talking all things ‘art’ and ‘great plains’ with Andrew and his gracious wife, Elizabeth.
Maybe I’ve enjoyed a day more.…but I simply can’t think of one right now.
We stopped at all my favorite places. Looking for inspiration on the Great Plains is not an activity for sissies.
Looking at the old rock pens, we spoke of wondering about the family who once lived here. At times I felt as if I should reimburse Andrew for the art lesson, as we discussed the many sources of inspiration for texture.
He pointed out the inspiration for shape scattered around our feet.
He helped me see how a jumble of rocks could be just as stunning as a beautiful bouquet of carefully arranged flowers.
I confided in Andrew and Elizabeth of how I like to have my camera slung around my neck as it forces me to see. To observe and not rush by.
Elizabeth and Andrew weren’t even the slightest bit irritated when I chirped,
Let’s go see the graveside. It’s just a five-minute walk!
After 30 minutes walking uphill in the wind and scaling a rock basket for a barbed wire fence, they remained unflappable. They possess the true wonderment of explorers.
Andrew explained he has a passion for this area of the country (he was born in New Jersey) and he wanted to move here. His muse is this land.
Come again, Andrew?? Were you out of town for the entire dust-bowl month of March?
Andrew’s knowledge of the history of this area is impressive. I prayed he wouldn’t ask me any ‘New Jersey’ questions. Garden state!!
I’m no art critic (a-men), but when I ponder Andrew’s art I see an artist with a profound talent for elevating the ordinary to the sacred. He never overtly sentimentalizes his subject matter. In fact, he says he tries to ‘stay out of it’. Much of his subject matter deals with the harsh realities of life on the Great Plains, but I think his art reveals his reverence for the area and the land’s hardy inhabitants.
To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanks Elizabeth and Andrew for the holy day. I’m grateful.
Hope you discover your muse this week, dear reader.
For those of you who slogged through my three-post series last week: put on your hip boots for this update. I simply had to share!
What of the petroglyphs?
After much scouring of the interwebs, I brazenly emailed a person mentioned in a recent science journal who was involved in dating the oldest petroglyphs (10,000 to 15,000 years old!) in the United States. He very kindly wrote back indicating this rock art was surely of Zuni or Hopi origin. He mentioned this deer as a very common symbol in the SW United States. He put me in touch with a Hopi expert from Northern Arizona University. I’m waiting to hear back. See how much we are learning?
Now for some sad news. Remember this stalwart kitty who entertained our toddler for hours?
Got a text from Sprout #1 yesterday telling me to be very careful with the little dogs while at the ranch. The ranch foreman related he had seen a coyote carcass in a tree being devoured by an eagle. He said all of the barn kitties had been swooped upon and carried away. ***gulp***
Rest assured baby H and Roxy Doxy will never be outside unattended.
If you object to hunting, don’t look at the next picture.
Really, don’t look. Leave now. You’ve been warned.
Sprout #1 has been enthusiastically tracking the mountain lions for over a year now. He’s seen lots of them, but he’s never bagged one. He has a state permit to take two cats a year. From the looks of his game-cam photos, there’s a nice population of them at the ranch. He finally bagged one a few days ago. It looked to be quite old. Hunting these is an adventure. Can’t wait to hear the Sprout’s full story.
Like I said before, this is a rough country. Not for sissies. Or small animals.
If you are a petite person, you might want to look up now and then.
I’m pulling the photo album out of my granny-handbag. Finishing up the three-part ranch series with my favorite captures. I snapped these with the Nikon d700 and the 50mm fixed lens. I didn’t want to be bouncing around in the 4-wheeler with tons of equipment. Simple is best.
Sit with me on the loveseat, won’t you? ***grabbing your sleeve***
I know you’ll want to see these, honey.
Now…..drum roll, please….my favorite photo of the ranch trip. I like the starkness of it. Feels familiar and it feels like art to me. I call it hommage aO’Keefe. I think you’ll understand.
Oh….you have to go now??***unfurling my tightly-wrapped arm from around your shoulders***
Come back and visit real soon.***wet kiss***
Here’s hoping you always find the flattering light.
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Never knew there were so many varieties slumbering on the ground, jutting proudly from the earth, being utilized as a writing slate, leaning against one another for support, or forming mazes for us to ponder.
Behold the boulders.
Enjoyed exploring this Lonesome Dove-like land. If I was still riding a horse……oh, well.
Is your head spinning from staring at rocks? Do you feel like a geologist now?
On Friday, I’m gonna whip my photo album from my over-sized handbag and force you to lovingly gaze at my favorite ranch photos. I’ll probably invade your personal space and talk too loud. Some of the shots are artsy-fartsy. Prepare yourselves….you know I’m an over-sharer.
Enjoyed a wonderful and scenic MLK weekend at the ranch in northern New Mexico. Sprout #2, the Son-in-Law, and the 2 Grands invited us to tag along on their adventure and we quickly nodded YES.
Since my camera is jam-packed with images from this trip, I’m going to write a short series. I’ll write three blogs about the ranch. Hopefully, I’ll have them all posted by the end of the week. Stay tuned, chicken-wingers!!
First topic: petroglyphs, or rock art. I’d heard about the drawings but never had the chance to see them. Seeing the petroglyphs was my first request for a ranch outing.
Four adults, two babies, and 3 faux-ranch dogs piled in the 4-wheeler for the half-hour drive to the site.
These glyphs lit a fire in my imagination. Spent 3 hours on the internet last evening trying to discern if these are of some Plains Indian tribe origin….or if they are earlier than that. These images did not seem to match images I researched of the Pueblo Indians. The fact that these glyphs are dark seems to be a little unusual. Most photos I saw were of dark rocks with lighter petroglyphs. Why is that? Are these images so old the surface has darkened because of some chemical reaction? Have they been underwater? Are there more underground? Could they be….prehistoric? Were they carved in this small cave-space or has the rock moved with time? Or…..is all of this recent activity? My research indicates these things are incredibly difficult to date. My obsessive-compulsive self has surfaced and I’ve dreamed for two nights of these drawings. I wish I knew more about things like this.
Are you betting I’m gonna find someone who does?
If you know anyone who might shed some light on the origins of this rock art, please feel free to forward this post. I’ll talk to anyone.
I must end this post with a photo of our budding natural-scientist. She occupied herself on a blanket on the ground while we explored the cave.
Look for other ranch-posts this week, if you are interested. I’ve got some fun things to show you.
I need to quit watching/listening to the news. I can never unsee Geraldo Rivera’s preening selfie, the drama of Weiner’s wiener, and the over-publicized outcome of a very high-profile trial. Geez…..and it’s only Wednesday.
I need some eye/mind bleach.
Thanks to Sprout #1 filling my email inbox with these photos, I have the perfect mind-scrubbing solution.
Let’s see what the beasts in northern New Mexico have been up to, shall we?
Observing the rhythm of the animal kingdom here on the prairie never fails to inspire. Is that a spark of the divine I see in them? What sort of creator made these magnificent animals? Perhaps they point to the ‘keeper of the plains’.
I’m closing with this Rich Mullins‘ video. Rich was a Christian artist who passed away in a car accident in 1997. Such a loss….I still miss his heartfelt music. I think this song perfectly captures the majesty of the keeper of the plains. You won’t regret listening to it. Promise.
The prairies are calling out His name. Are we listening?
Can’t take credit for this blog post. Render all applause to the rancher/cowboy Sprout #1. Seems he placed a few motion-sensor cameras around the ranch in Union County, New Mexico. This ranch is nestled in northern Union County, near where New Mexico meets the Oklahoma Panhandle and southern Colorado.
The southern portion of the ranch is rolling grassland. As one travels north, the country roughens into cedar breaks.
The northern apex of the ranch is regally crowned with a colorful, wind-swept canyon. It conjures Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey and Larry McMurtry novels for me. Fancy myself freely galloping horseback with my handsome cowboy sidekick (Robert Duvall) riding into the crimson sunset.
This portion of New Mexico is in severe drought. Worst we’ve ever seen. Therefore, the watering holes are popular hang-outs for wildlife. A veritable Studio 54. Watch closely….you might spot Bianca Jagger or Biebs. Will you have to bribe the bouncer to gain entry?
Is this the same animal? Who knows?
The elk shed antlers every year. Sprout #1 has picked up some huge antler sheds.
Sprout #1 spent plenty of hours this winter doggedly tracking the big cats-mountain lion. He saw a few, but never got a shot off.
We’re always hearing of ‘bear and rumors of bear’ around the ranch.
Makes me remember the time Sprout #2 and I bravely camped out with the cowboy crew during branding time. The ranch foreman told me they spotted a bear near the campground. We slept (uneasily) with a loaded 9mm in our flimsy, two-person pup tent.
We provide the wildlife with the most modern, convenient amenities.
Had the bear realized he was being filmed, he would’ve worn a swimsuit. Modesty demands it.