My spirit has been battered in this past year, like so many. I am blessed with a house and a garden and a loving family, yet life has kept me close to home and hearth with innumerable chores and obligations. My father died at the end of May and we buried him at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in July. My mother has been in lockdown in her nursing home since March and our daughter Rachel has been in several lockdowns in her living setting since June. We visit Mother's window, talk to her on the phone daily, and Skype with Rachel each night. We moved Chelsea to a new place last week. The garden here at Red Oak House is "put to bed" and the pantry and freezer are full. With all of this, I was only able to visit the badlands once this summer, in a careful, limited way, while at the same time distracted by demands at home and the extraordinary events on the national stage. And then, my mother was diagnosed with Covid (happily, she survived after quarantine in the Covid wing of her nursing home). As it became more clear that these things were resolving, on my mind was a solo trip to the badlands at the earliest opportunity. Hence my restorative retreat last week to the Badlands.
I loaded my car on Wednesday afternoon with gear, food, water, books, binoculars, walking stick, backpack, field guides including my Sibley bird guide, my journal, and hiking boots. Thursday morning, as I prepared to depart, I received the phone call I've been awaiting from the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery informing me that my father's marker had been placed, so my last stop before driving west was to bear witness. It is a fine, strong marker for a fine, strong man who I miss so very much.
|Always interesting to observe the variation of orange buffaloberries rather than the usual red berries. Each bush was loaded with berries, oddly enough considering the drought.|
|The Lost Bridge over the Little Missouri River, Fort Berthold Indian Reservation on the other side|
Bison cow rebuffs her yearling calf which wishes to nurse