Spring in Winter.


While the east coast braced themselves for a winter storm that was promising to be so epic they actually gave it a name, North Dakotans were out in shorts and tank tops watching the January snow turn into mud in 50+ degree weather.


The weather this week has been so gloriously warm that it is starting to freak us all out a little bit. I mean, we’re definitely grateful, and we definitely know that a good ‘ol ND winter cold snap is coming again soon, but it’s a little eerie to have summer-like temperatures in the middle of winter. We feel like maybe we’re being tricked.

We look at each other and say, well, we’re going to pay for this later aren’t we?


But what the hell. For once, we’re on the warm side of the weather news up here in the tundra, so you can bet we went out and made the most of it.

And by making the most of it, I mean, scraping all of the ice and snow off of our driveway and marveling at the fact that it’s no longer a skating rink/hip-breaking zone…for now anyway. And then opening up the garage doors and sweeping and rearranging and building steps and wiring…

And while Husband was doing all that, I decided to take a 4-wheeler ride up to the fields where I knew I would find the horses.

IMG_4390 IMG_4387 IMG_1520

I’m still battling the cold of the year, my theory being that all of the germs have thawed out and traveled to my lungs to torture me, so I definitely wasn’t walking anywhere…or sweeping anything…or holding any boards…or helping my dearly beloved do anything useful.

Nope. Too sick.

But not too sick to pull my beanie down over my ears and head for the hills on a motorized vehicle, the dogs and I kicking up mud as we followed the road up to the flat.

IMG_1506 IMG_1511 IMG_4391

Up here the weather is a freak, so even with the plague, I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to feel some warm sunshine on my shoulders, because I know full well I might not have another chance for a while, memories of last winter’s months long sub-zero deep freeze are still pretty vivid.

And while I’m hoping for more snow before the summer rolls in, it was nice to see the golden grass and feel the warm air for a bit.

IMG_1610 IMG_1616

And it was nice to see the boys, content and fat and fuzzy and full of burs up there in the fields munching and chill as they let the same sun warm their backs.


IMG_1584 IMG_1564  IMG_1597 IMG_1528  IMG_1556 IMG_1550 IMG_1548

I mean, they were so relaxed that none of them really attempted to drop-kick Gus out of their way as he sniffed and frolicked around them, getting to know these creatures he’ll be riding with this summer.

IMG_1537 IMG_1573 IMG_1591

I think maybe these horses feel like they’re on a tropical winter vacation up here in these fields…all you can eat buffet…warm weather…no work to be done for months.

IMG_1530 IMG_1599 IMG_4401 IMG_4414


IMG_1570 IMG_1527

Ah, winter, if you stayed like this for a while I think we could all manage just fine.

But before you make any real commitments, why don’t you go ahead and send one more freeze to kill off this bug and a big snow to get my sledding hill ready, to fill up the creeks and dams and nourish the wildflowers and grass for spring.

Not that I don’t appreciate the break, but, you know, winter we all have a job to do up here…and you’re laid back attitude is sorta freaking us out…

IMG_1603 IMG_1602 IMG_1605 IMG_1608 IMG_1599

The way it should be

This week the cows came home, and so did 70+ degree weather.

When there are cows around in 70+ degree weather it’s next to impossible for people like us to stay inside, or do anything other than find the horses and ride around.

Of course there are things to be done, fences to be fixed, etc. etc. and that’s why we ride. Because on the back of a horse at least you can look like you’re working.

And when the cows are home and it’s 70+ degrees things that might have annoyed you, like opening one gate to let the horses in only to watch them run wide open out the open gate on the other side of the corral, make you cuss for only like five to ten minutes while you rush to wrangle the animals off the green grass on the other side of the fence and back to the barn.

Even the bird that shit on your head and the wood tick(s) stuck behind your ear are taken as a small price to pay for the arrival of summer

Because the wild berries are blossoming and it smells like heaven. 

This is my ride.

The man beside me is telling me things that make me laugh and he’s handsome and he’s getting all the gates and I get to go home with him tonight.  

The calves are adorable.

And the cows are home and it’s 70+ degrees and weekend’s here and life is the way it should be back at the ranch.

Spring Resolutions.

I tell you, brown and blue have become my favorite colors.

Because it means the snow is melting and the sun is shining.

Soon that brown will be replaced by the best color in the universe. Green.

I’ve seen a little of it lately. Poking through the mud, just eager to make an appearance.

Last year at this time I’m sure I was out counting crocuses.

This year, I’m still snow bank hopping.

But I know it’s coming. Spring always comes. It’s the one constant we can rely on when everything else is crazy and unpredictable or gray or dull or blizzardy.

Spring. Spring will come and so will the baby calves and soon it will be summer.

So I’m waiting and doing what I’ve done since I was a little girl…following the new creeks and rivers that are escaping from the snow.

I follow them because I like the sound the water makes. The rushing, bubbling, quiet roar as the it rolls down hills and through gullies, across logs and over polished rocks. It reminds me of breathing and heartbeats and freedom and a world that gets another chance to clean up and show us what she’s got.

Everyone makes resolutions in the new year, in the middle of winter when the world is still in a deep sleep, frozen and unambitious.

I make my resolutions in the spring, in solidarity with the regrowth and new things blooming under the watch, guidance and encouragement of the warm sun.

I resolve to open up my heart as wide and fearless as the chokecherry blossoms, because our lives are short.

And I promise to be as dependable as the pair of geese that return to our dam year after year because love means loyalty.

I will work to be as strong as the oak, even under the harshest winds. Because that wind is steady only in its unpredictably and I don’t want to be a woman who backs down.

But I’ll listen close like a deer at the snap of a branch and I will take time to understand my home and what is meant to be here and what is a threat.

I will sing at the top of my lungs like the chickadees,

splash the brown world with color like a wildflower,

and I will run wild like the water in the creeks roaring down the banks and through the trees and warming up for a new life in the bright spring sun.