The Sagebrush Sea

Ramblings from a Cowboy-girl.

To My Cousins. . .

IMG_2670Cousins,

We are the red scoria roads and ponderosa covered hillsides of the Tongue River Valley.   We are every flavor of Shasta, slurped down in the midday sun, outside of the dusty branding corral.   We are tree forts, baling twine, and lost matches with green beans out of a can.   We are the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and Montana of 1882.

We are all of these things.  The accumulation of childhood memory and generations of American experience.  We are all of these things and so much more.  Our lives have blossomed and spread beyond the soil of our youth.  We have grown far and we have grown apart, yet we are still the sum of the years that proceeded us and the years we shared on the Quarter Circle U.

Regardless, of how far we go and how far we grow, we will always be rooted in those experiences.  We gather around the familiar green cookhouse table and share particular versions of our childhood, each with our personal biases and understandings.  All together for the first time in however many years,  we are comfortable with the people we have become.  Comfortable enough to let down our guard and layout our individual fears and insecurities, too build a more complete picture the childhood we shared in this place.

I sit and listen, as our stories begin to overlap.  Each story rises in the air above us,  melting into the those that came before.  Each story, enough to stand on it’s own, creates something greater as it  joins the others around this table.  I sit and watch, as these stories grown out of childhood, create the scaffold of irrefutable strength that frames our adult lives.

Like the stories we tell, we are enough to stand alone.  We have gathered friends, spouses, and children around us.  We created lives of purpose and love, I am proud of the people we have grown into, but together we become something greater than our wholes.  Thank you for this evening around the cook house table, thank you for a childhood filled with magic and dirt, thank you for being outstanding human beings.

I love you,

Rachel

 

A Good Girl

I didn’t know my soul needed to recharge,  that was until my heart began lifting with an effervescence in my chest,  as I stood with my face to the wind on the hilltop facing the setting sun.  Not twenty minutes ago, I was sitting in  my pick-up cursing myself for forgetting to bring a book along, as I waited for the stock tank to fill with water.  I had found the large metal tank nearly empty, when I arrived and knew I had some time to kill.   The unseasonably warm weather, combined with the lack of moisture, had driven the horses and heifers to consume more water than usual.  The sixty-mile round trip drive to check the water and fill the tank must be done several times a week.  I chafe at the necessity, it isn’t because I begrudge my livestock fresh, clean water, but because of the fuel  and time the chore costs us.

This negative cycle of thoughts continued for some minutes, as I sat in the pick-up to escape the biting cold wind.  I chastise my children (more often than they’d like) with this statement, “You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude.”  Clearly, I also need to hear this reminder.  I grabbed my husband’s denim jacket out of the backseat and stepped out of the pickup to check the tank level.  It would be a few more hours, before there is enough water for me to leave.  Leaden rain clouds whipping across the sky to the North with the fierce Wyoming wind, but the sun is backlighting softer clouds hanging on the Western horizon.

My life has felt out of my control too often this past year.  I hadn’t realized just how confined I felt by familial obligations and the dangerous self-pitying  narrative I’d attached to them, until we chose to walk away.  In a new space, together with my family of choice, I’ve reconnected with the core of myself.  My most primal self, detests dogma, obligation, and confining labels.  In my attempt to be the “good girl” this past year, I’ve lost sight of these truths.  Good girl’s respect their roles in the hierarchy of family, despite the cost to their soul.  Good girls put the needs of others ahead of self-care.  Good girls burnout and I did.

I can’t be a good girl anymore.  Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.  I have learned and I have turned what felt like a rejection into a reawakening of my truest self.  My sensitivity is not weakness.  The empathy with which I view the world, is the truest expression of my energy.   I am enough, just as I am.  I do not need to shape myself to the narrative of my extended family, because I write my own story.  A story, like this moment, on this windy hilltop that makes my heart rise and sing.

Ch-ch-changes

There are, I hope, some subtle changes going on here on the website.  In an attempt to support this labor of love, I’ve created space for advertisers in the sidebar.  Carefully chosen to reflect my values and ethics, please check them out.

Duckworth Wool features Montana raised wool-American made garments.  I’ve been wearing my Duckworth tank and hoody literally every day since they arrived.  I can’t recommend them strongly enough and if you act as soon as possible you’ll receive 40% off their regular prices until Friday.

Yeti coolers (American made!) saved us loads of grocery money, while living in remote cow camps without electricity.

Last, but not least REI Outlet is an awesome source for quality outdoor gear at affordable prices.

 

We’re Buying a House

We’re buying a house.

I’ve been repeating this statement to myself with some disbelief these past few weeks.  We’re buying a house.  We are buying a house.  It isn’t an uncommon life choice, but it seems such a conventional life choice.   I’ve not been known for conventional life choices, I married a cowboy.  I married a cowboy and in doing so freed myself from modern convention pursuing the flavor of gypsy life.  We’ve enjoyed moving around the West.   With every move,  we’ve become familiar with new landscapes, we’ve learned about ourselves and our relationship.  I worry that I will become complacent in my personal growth, if I’m not faced with the challenge of exploring and starting over somewhere new.

My heart vacillates between a desire for roots, a place for the simple luxury of a flower-filled vase, and the burning desire of ditching all my belongings (but a few precious books) traveling the world, living out of a suitcase.  So, believe me when I say I can’t believe we are buying a house.

We have been involved  in the home buying process for a few weeks, I’ve come to believe that like grieving the home buying process has distinct stages.  Stage One, is giddy enthusiasm.  There is some much possibility on the horizon.  After paging through realty flyers and visiting home after home, Stage One slides quickly into the depression that defines Stage Two.  The search begins to feel endless, and you become disheartened.  None of the houses, feel like home.

Then all of the sudden, one does.  Stage Three, you walk in the door and your struck by an intangible sense of belonging.  Perhaps it is the abundance of natural light, the floor plan, or a minor architectural detail but something just feels right, this is “The” house.  So you make an offer, which leads you to Stage Four.

Offer, counter offer, counter-counter offer, counter-counter-counter offer, and so it goes.  By the time an agreement is reached, you’re so fatigued by the process that you’re not certain you really want the property anymore.  Stage Five commences with more paperwork, T’s must be crossed and I’s must be dotted as you leap through the hoops necessitated by the loan process.

This is where we’re at in our home buying process.  Tentatively excited about the prospect of being a home owner, but also terrified.  This is it, we’re turning in our Non-pro cards and becoming Adults, with a capital A.  Owning a home will temper our gypsy ways.  But I know, my husband and I strive to be deliberate in our choices, and our lifestyle will adapt but our priorities will remain the same.  Rather than packing our worldly goods in a horse trailer and hitting the road every few years, we will seek growth under one roof; exploring our values rather than new landscapes.

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