And now an ode to late summer fields.
To wheat fields, golden and rolling.
To sunflower fields, bright and following the sun.
To oil fields, kicking up dust and fueling our world.
It’s another rainy, windy afternoon at the ranch. It seems like once the sky decided to open up it just can’t stop. It feels like March when the sky wouldn’t stop snowing. It feels like this spring has been finicky and harsh and extreme and it has enjoyed every minute it has kept me waiting.
Waiting for the snow to stop.
Waiting for the sun to shine.
Waiting for the rain to come.
Waiting for it to stop raining.
Waiting on the sun to shine.
I know there will be a time this summer where the dust will blow again and we will pray for a bit of relief from the heat and the dry, but where I come from there is not a balance.
There is only extreme.
Extremely perfectly beautiful.
Some days I feel like the weather. These days especially. The windows have been streaked with rain for a few weeks and I have been suffering from a weird sort of lingering head cold that refuses to break up and leave like the damn rain.
I’ve been working hard to ignore it, to say the rain will clear and I will feel better, but today I submitted. I stayed home under a blanket to watch it fall.
I’ll feel better tomorrow.
Head cold or no head cold, it seems I’m always so affected by the seasons and how they change, like the weather and my mood hold hands to greet the day accordingly.
Which makes me wonder how annoyingly bright-sided I’d be if I lived in the sunny, 70 degree climate of southern California.
It sounds nice right now, the sun.
But I think the constant change of seasons help me and what my husband refers to as my “restless spirit.” He says it’s hard for me to sit in one place. It’s hard for me to be comfortable in routine.
He says it’s good for me to have all this space to wander out here.
Maybe he’s right and maybe it’s hard to understand how a girl can be so rooted and so restless.
But it’s no worry to me really. I know where I belong out here, changing with the weather.
Evolving with the season.
Jessie Veeder Living Room Session
Maybe we’re supposed to be brave
I don’t know what we are but we’re not made that way
We’re meant to be broken, put together, then saved
Maybe we’re supposed to be brave
Maybe we’re supposed to hold on
when it’s hard to admit it’s gone when it’s gone
In the bright light of morning we’ll be glad we were strong
Maybe we’re supposed to hold on
If love’s not for sinners who is it for?
If luck’s not for hard times who’s keeping score?
I used to know better, I don’t anymore
These mountains we’re climbing lead to the shore
Maybe what we have is enough
stop fixing and fighting to own all this stuff
We were meant to be brave, to hold on and give up
For sinners like us, what we have is enough
It’s hard to believe that after a winter that extended long into spring, bringing with it unwelcome snow and sleet and ice, that our world was thirsty for more moisture just a month after the last blizzard.
But the dry crusty earth and the dust in the air in the middle of May was telling us that we were in dire need of some moisture. The earth had some growing to do and the warm sunshine alone wasn’t cutting it.
It rained like the dickens, as the old folks around here would say.
And just like that the world turned from brown
I guess I don’t have to tell you how anxious I was about the types of pretty things that might be sprouting out there. I had been cooped up in the house for the weekend watching it green up from the other side of the windows and Monday found me between the walls of an office. By the time I was set loose from my work on Tuesday, it was still raining, but it didn’t matter.
I had to get out.
Because when the weather changes so drastically, I feel like I’m missing something if I’m not in it, like I’m not in on the secret.
So I closed the computer, left the to-do list on my desk and took my lunch break 15 miles south of Boomtown, to see how Theodore Roosevelt National Park looks in the rain.
I wish I could have taken you with me on that drive.
I wish you could have smelled the cedars waking up, heard the mud slosh under your feet as you climbed the trails and felt the warm rain on your bare skin.
I wish you could have seen this bison scratch his side on a trail marker and laughed with me at how a beast could be so majestic and ridiculous at the same time.
I wish you could have sat at the overlook and remembered the times you climbed up here as a kid as you looked out at the river collecting raindrops.
Smelled the sweet peas.
I wish I could have taken you to lunch.
This world is full of wild and thirsty things
skin and bones and muscles
feathers on black wingssoft petals on pink flowers
and stem and branch and leafwaiting on the cool rain
waiting for the greenThis world is full of a sneaking kind of goldyou can find it on horizons
can’t be bought or held or sold and only in the morning
or at the perfect time of night
welcoming a new day
setting up the lightThis world is filled with the most peculiar sounds croaks and sighs and wails
and squeaks coming from the ground and up above a whistle
and from the hills a lonesome cry and I wonder if the calling
is hellos or sad goodbyes This world is full of wonder and moments to be brave and moments to remember
why we’re here and why we came and moments to be thirsty and moments to beholdand moments just to listen to all the life outside our door
Summer is looming and North Dakotans everywhere are tuning up their tillers and mowers, digging out lawn chairs, filling coolers, firing up grills, fixing fences, plotting out garden space, cutting up watermelon and making plans to take advantage of our favorite season as we monitor the growth of green grass and the buds on the trees…
Yes, summer is coming and summer is short. We all know it. We know only have three whole sunshiny months to cram in as many sunshiny activities as possible. It’s a frantic thought, but a fun frantic thought, one that includes fishing, lake swimming, fireworks, deck sitting, margaritas, fresh garden tomatoes and getting some chores done while working on our tans.
And I know I’m not the only one who has a summer list floating around in my head, one that has been discussed all winter as a sort of spirit lifting promise to myself:
“This summer we’ll work on getting the boat fixed.”
“This summer I’ll wear that dress.”
“This summer I’ll be in shape. Like Jillian Michaels shape. Might even start on that marathon thing I’ve been talking about. What? I haven’t mentioned the marathon?”
“This summer I’m planting pumpkins.”
“This summer I think I’ll get a few pigs. Yeah. No big deal. Bacon. You like bacon right? Yeah. I think I’ll raise some bacon this summer.”
“This summer we’ll get the deck built and the garage up and the fences fixed and the barn redone and the old garage tore down and the junk pile cleaned up…”
Wait…that’s not where I wanted this to go.
No. No. North Dakotans get the month of May to do the dreaming, and that’s really my point here. We get May to make plans. And while the leaves on the trees work on budding, the wildflowers make their way out of the dirt, the sun works on warming the horses’ backs and the wind takes away their wooly coats we buy brats to cook on the grill, grab a beer, pull our short shorts out of the back of the closet and blind the world with our pale legs while we say “gosh, it’s so nice out. It’s so beautiful. Summer’s coming, I mean, look at that, it’s already 55 degrees!”
And we sit like that, in a sort of beer and sun induced summer illusion where woodticks don’t exist, and neither does that fencing project, every day is 70 + degrees, we don’t have a tiling project and we have all the time in the world to plan our fishing trip.
And refine our summer list.
So here’s mine:
1) Wear colors. Every color. On my toenails. On my fingernails. Around my neck. On my head. Enough with the black. It’s summer. Wear orange or something.
2) And while I’m at it I’m gonna wear my swimming suit, my whole collection accumulated over years of the sort of wishful thinking you experience while sitting on the couch with a bag of chips in the middle of a blizzard thumbing through the Victoria’s Secret catalog . Because really, I don’t get to wear them too often, you know, with all the snow and that whole delusional thing. But screw it, I think I’ll wear the shit out of them this summer: while I’m digging in the garden, chasing cows, searching for wildflowers, feeding those pigs, cutting up limes for my margarita and reading my magazines on the deck…shit…
3) We’ve got to build that deck.
But once that deck is built, I have plans to:
4) Make dinner a picnic. If the sun is shining and the wind isn’t threatening to blow away my burgers, I am going to eat my meals outside under the big blue sky.
Because everyone knows food tastes better this way. And so do margaritas.
5) Did I mention margaritas? Yeah. Margaritas.
6) Oh, and we have kayaks. Remember? They’re just sitting in that old garage we need to tear down. This summer I’m using those kayaks. I don’t care if it’s on the dam outside our house, I’m kayaking. I am.
7) But if I happen to make it to a lake with that kayak, I am not wading in like a wussy. I am going to jump in with enthusiasm, screaming at the top of my lungs. This summer I will do this every time I’m given the chance.
9) And I will sleep with my bedroom windows open so I can fall asleep to the croaking of the frogs
10) And I will sweat. It will be hot and I will sweat and I won’t apologize for it. Because sweating is better than freezing. At least if you ask me. Little Sister might disagree.
So yes, I will welcome the sweat as I’m
11) Riding my favorite bay horse through pastures of sweet clover
12) Helping Pops and Husband dig post holes
13) Climbing to the hill tops to catch thunderheads rolling through a pink sunset
14) Following a deer trail through the thick trees to a juneberry, chokecherry or raspberry bush
15) Planting corn and peas and tomatoes and cucumbers and carrots and beans and radishes and pumpkins, watering them, weeding them, picking them and serving them up fresh and delicious with a margarita on my deck in my bright orange swimming suit after a long day of kayaking under the big, blue, beautiful summer sky we’ve all been dreaming of.
So what’s on your summer list?
It’s officially crocus season, and that’s good news out here on the edge of the badlands where we’ve all been patiently waiting for them to arrive, as if the blooming of the first flower gives us permission to pack away our sweaters and pull out the short sleeves.
Well, that’s what I did anyway. I made a mountain out of the sweaters shoved in my closet. I pulled them out ceremoniously flinging them to the floor, purging my room of winter before I stood back and seriously contemplated throwing them out the window and lighting a match on the whole damn pile.
But that would have been crazy, and, well, let’s be honest, I’ll need them again in a few short months. Anyway, I didn’t have time for that. Little Sister was coming over and she had plans to soak up the sunshine and I had plans to procrastinate painting the bathroom.
So we grabbed our cameras and the herd of dogs…
and went climbing around, scouring the ground for the purple flower.
When you become familiar with a place in all of it’s seasons, you memorize where the crocuses bloom in the spring, where to go to pick chokecherries and raspberries in the summer, and to always, no matter the season, watch out for cactus.
We know these places because prairie people like us have vivid memories of hunting for crocuses with our grandmother, sisters, mothers or fathers, bending over to pull them from the tangle of brown grass while the warm spring wind picked up the loose hair that escaped from our ponytails.
I’ve been living back at the ranch for three springs and I will be here for the rest of the springs I am given. I will never forget what it felt like to climb to that hilltop and pick the first crocus of the year as I stood with my husband we looked down at our home.
And we were happy to be together, happy for summer to arrive and happy to stand on that hill for a moment that we were sure couldn’t get much better from here.
Then my Little Sister moved to our hometown and now the whole family is together and close and on Monday mornings I can expect a call asking me what I’m doing this weekend. Because my Little Sister plans ahead and I’m glad to be consulted on those plans.
So Saturday’s plans made room for crocus hunting in the warm sunshine next to a girl who used to follow me on my after school walks up the creek to my fort. I used to wish she would leave me alone then. I used to holler at her to stop following me and when we came in the house crying and fighting, our mom would promise us that someday, we would be best friends.
Funny how moms are usually, most likely, pretty much, always exactly right.
Funny how some things change, but I still haven’t mastered the art of convincing Little Sister to help me with my chores…like, oh, you know, painting the bathroom.
Funny how she still doesn’t listen to me.
Funny how the crocuses bloom on the same hill every year and someday we might have a chance to watch our own children run to the top and pick us a purple bloom.
Funny how it could possibly keep getting better.
In honor of spring and the wind and the sun and the green grass poking up around us, I would like to take you along on my favorite trail, the one that leads to the east pasture from our house, up along the buffalo fence, to the top of a rocky cliff and then down again to the stock dam and back toward home.
Next week this walk will be a little bit greener, a little bit warmer and, hopefully, I’ll find some crocuses.
Next week maybe I’ll leave the damn dogs at home so they don’t scare away the wildlife with their slobbering, panting, running, and puking.
I guess that’s what happens when you run at full speed after a duck, ignoring the screams from your owner to come back.
That’s what you get when you try out your instincts after seven months of lounging.
It’s been a long winter.
I would have puked too.
Anyway, I hope the sun is shining wherever you are and you have the chance to explore your favorite spot this weekend.
Now, off we go…
Happy Earth Day friends! The sun is shining at the ranch, reflecting off the sparkly, melty snow and streaming in the window of this house. I am so happy to see it that I’m pretending not to notice the layer of construction dust it is also illuminating.
It’s a perfect day to share the photos I’ve received of spring from around the world! Your photos were just what I needed to recognize that rain or snow, clouds or sunshine, nature has a rhythm and a reason and never fails to fascinate and intrigue. It seems that no matter the location or climate, all of us have that wonder in common.
So thanks for playing along and sharing a little piece of your world with us. The temperatures are still far below average in North Dakota, but I’ve got my eye on the sky and Cliff the weatherman and am hoping to find some color out there soon.
It was hard to chose a winner and hard not to favor the scenes that make spring more believable, but it had to be done, so a big congratulations to Colleen in California! Your photo of the green hills of your home reminded me of my own in that brief time after the spring rains when the colors seem like a painting. Pure beauty.
Send me an email to email@example.com with your address and I’ll send you a copy of my new album “Nothing’s Forever” and a print of spring at the ranch. Maybe you can hang the two side by side and think of your friend freezing up here in the great white (and sometimes green) north!
Now kick back and enjoy your images of spring from around the globe, and feel free to give a shout out to your favorite!
Photo by Sylvia in the Philippines from www.mindingthefarm.wordpress.com
“I took this picture last month (March 8) from my bedroom window in our house in the city. The bird is a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier). They are very common garden birds. It is eating a macopa. In English it is known as the Malay Apple, Mountain Apple or the Tersana Rose Apple. The fruit of this tree growing outside our window doesn’t seem that sweet though. The birds mostly ignore it.”
Photo by my friend Cami in Washington, DC. Baby with Cherry Blossoms
“I snapped this picture when my mom and I took Linnea to the Tidal Basin to take in the famed cherry blossom trees. She’s in a little playsuit my mom bought at your mama’s store.”
Photo by Lois from Waco, TX
“I was born in North Dakota but have not lived there in quite awhile. I do remember the snow though. So here is how spring is shaping up in Central Texas–a little slow, but coming along. I live in Waco, Texas and I am a wild flower freak. Here is a photo to cheer you up–taken April 17th, on Rattler Hill Road–one of my favorite places to go “wildflowering”. By the way, there are no Bluebonnets in the photo.”
Photo by my friend Kathy from Alexander, ND
“This was taken one of the first days of spring, 2013, in Tarpon Springs, Florida at a HS classmate and his wife’s home… the greenery did my eyes wonder…it made me long for our Dakota spring green…I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll see it this year or if 2013 is going to skip spring, summer and fall and head right back into old man winter!”
Photo by Betty in Black Hawk, SD
“I’m afraid we are in the same boat Jessie!!! Last week it was two feet of the white stuff. This week not so much, but as I look out my window, there are a few flakes playing tag with each other in their rush to the earth!! We welcome each and every one because we need the moisture. How I’ll welcome the sunshine when it chooses to show it’s warm face. The hyacinths, and tulips will rejoice with me and we will celebrate Spring along with you as western Dakota becomes green again.”
Photo by Lynda in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, N E Scotland
“Beautiful crocus flowers opening their buds towards the Spring sunshine in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, N E Scotland. Spring very late this year but Mrs Blackbird sitting comfortably on her nest today and buds on trees now appearing! Onwards!”
Photo by my friend Megan up the road!
Don’t be confused… This is from Monday, not Christmas! ;)
“Thought I would share my 2 favorite things to photograph all year around… My barn and my boys… Which I’m guessing were both hoping the sun would come out and the white stuff would quit falling!
Happy “SPRING HAS SPRUNG” from up the road a couple miles.”
Photo by Barb in northern Oregon
“In northern Oregon Spring has sprung. The Western Meadowlarks provide the dawn to dusk soundtrack for this photo. Seems like all of the birds are in pairs: the geese, the Scrub Jays, the White-crowned sparrows. The Song sparrows are pulling bark off of the ninebark and I wonder if the poor bush will be stripped before the nest is complete. And then there are the wild flowers. When the lupine blooms amid the arrowroot, cold temps and cloudy days aside, there’s no denying spring.”
Photo by Harriet in the Faroe Islands @ www.olafsdottir.wordpress.com
“Here in The Faroe Islands we sure get happy when the sky’s blue and the sun is out :) Although today is rainy, I took this photo the other day where spring really showed it’s sunny side :)”
Photo by my cousin Shanna in snowy Fargo, ND @ www.franzenfive.wordpress.com
“Yet ANOTHER snowy day and not so much fun to play outside yet! So my Munchkins expressed their feelings about our “Fargo spring” through some artwork on our patio door with their window markers today. On the left it says “Spring is NOT in the air”, there is a snowman at the beach, a sad-faced sun, and an angry orange monster at the bottom who “ate up all the snow and punched winter in the face” (his words, not mine).”
Photo by my cousin Seth (Shanna’s brother) in Washington, DC.
Here he is trying to make us jealous…
“Two of the highlights of living in our nation’s capital: The monuments and spring cherry blossoms! Oh, and temps in the 70s ;)”
Photo by Kaye from Grand Junction, CO
“On the left: my tulips on Saturday. On the right: my tulips today. Springtime in the Rockies, what are you gonna do…Usually our spring is warm, windy and drier than we’d like. This year, cool, windy, some wet.”
Photo by Linda in California @ www.ANatureMom.com
“Here’s a little bit of California to brighten your day! Due to drought-like conditions this winter, spring arrived early for us. The upshot is that there are beautiful wildflowers blooming everywhere!”
Thanks again for your submissions. You made my spring a little warmer and brighter!
I’m obsessed with observing. I could sit on the top of a hill in the spring and listen to the wind, watch the bugs come to life and inspect the ground for any sign of green for hours. I’ve been known to do it.I’m also known for bringing my camera every where I go, another little obsession and one my family and husband don’t always appreciate, but will thank me for when they are old and gray and trying to remember where they put the glasses they have dangling around their necks or pushed up on their heads.
I will show them these photos and remind them how young and beautiful they used to be.
A few years ago I wouldn’t have guessed that something like a camera lens would provide me such joy, but there I was, running around the countryside, putting my nose near the dirt next to an acorn, squatting down to inspect the mud, leaning in to see what that horse hair looks like dangling from the barbed wire, because now, with this new little miracle piece of equipment, I was able to capture it.Because I’ve always been fascinated with the way our world looks close up. I generally don’t care so much for bugs, but when a photographer can show me the sparkle of their wings or the dynamics of their eyes, I suddenly think flies are beautiful.
So when my lens arrived I went on an all out mission to find a some sort of living, flying thing out there so I could test my macro-photography skills.
Little did I know that the only living insect in North Dakota was currently coming back to life in the windowsill of my bedroom.
But that’s ok. I needed practice on non-moving things before I moved on to tiny, living things that move really really fast.Taking a look and seeing the familiar a little bit differently is a nice little adventure. And so I relished it a bit because I knew what was waiting for me when I got inside involved mortar and holding heavy things.
So here’s what our world looks like right now up close.
And although my little sister, who once declared brown as her favorite color because she felt sorry for it, would commend me for finding the beauty in the mud, I just really can’t wait for wildflower season.
And I really can’t wait for this house to be done.