Postcard from the Big Empty and Farmer Appreciation

It’s blowing like an MF out there and we have a red flag warning, but Bear and I are undaunted social distancers, and we showed up for work at the Refuge like always though there was NO ONE to welcome except one stoical magpie.

Bear and I ready for work (you can see the wind because all my hair is on ONE side of my head)

Bear spent some time studying history, checking to see what changes have transpired along the little trail since last time. There were more than I could ever have imagined. Sadly, she can’t express in detail all of her discoveries.

The sky was magnificent in all directions and changed constantly. Snow is coming in and lenticular clouds hovered above the Sangre de Cristos.

Farmers are plowing which means this windy time of year there is a LOT of dust. Because the gusts were so ferocious, if dust obscured the mountains, it was only for a few minutes. I can’t say it was pleasant walking in 40 mph gusts but it’s oddly like walking uphill. At times Bear walked behind me and I was happy to shelter her from the wind some little bit. I honestly don’t mind at all struggling against what nature is doing. I would have missed so many wonderful things in my life if I didn’t want to hike in the rain or walk in the snow and wind. I guess that’s love. ❤

Because there was literally NO ONE there out there, when we’d finished our “job,” I drove the whole loop. I saw only one crane. You don’t survive as a species for millions of years without knowing enough to stay out of the wind. The geese objected, a few ducks took flight. There were nearly surfable waves on the ponds. A couple of blue birds fighting the wind but soon gave up. In a remote small pond I saw a family of small, brown ducks.

It’s become my ritual to slow down as I pass the farm with the working Pyrenees to see how he’s doing. I’ve observed that when his cattle move, he moves to remain close to them. I send him every good vibe I have in my heart whenever I see him. I also noticed three obviously friendly (with each other) bulls in a separate field. Beautiful creatures.

A word about farmers. My family was farmers for many, many, many generations. My mom’s was the first generation for probably a thousand years that had no farmers. As for me, I have an affinity for it in my heart, at least. It’s one of the things I love about living here. I love seeing a lone tractor in a waiting barley field. I love the animals and watching them every day through the seasons. I love all of it without any direct knowledge of it except that I know it’s a hard life with no real down time. In these anxiety laden and uncertain times, the farmers where I live are out there, not “social distancing” but doing what they always do. Growing food for Americans. When the Potato Festival Rolls around in September, it’s a highlight of the year for me and everyone else. The scary (thunder storms, hail, drought) hard work of summer is nearing an end. Harvest is underway.

If there is any parallel in human life to the uncertainty we’re all facing right now, it’s the uncertainty farmers face every single year, setting forth not knowing what the markets will be, not knowing what the weather will bring, not know if there will be water. So, you know, thank a farmer.

P.S. I walk REALLY fast with a 30 mph gust at my back. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Postcard from the Big Empty and Farmer Appreciation

  1. I’m so glad you can get out in the Big Empty during these days of distancing. Here, the parks have all been closed, since too many people visited them last weekend, and it was impossible to be 6 feet away from everybody — beaches too! It’s a nicer day today, but windy here too!

    • A storm there too, probably, pushing itself this way, maybe. I’m glad we can get out, too. I think it would be hard without it. Morale is important.

      • Morale has been tough here recently — at least it’s not beautifully sunny and comfortably warm here, so it’s not begging me to get outside each day! It is hard to be cooped up indoors all day, but my place is big enough that I can move around a little bit. I’ve always thought that solitary confinement would be pretty difficult!

        • Definitely. ❤ Hang in there. I've noticed I have good days and bad days and, paradoxically, the more beautiful things people in my valley do, the worse I feel. This morning a woman I haven't seen in years texted me asking if her son could go shopping for me because "We old ones need to be careful." My next-door neighbor says, "Good-morning Martha" from inside her house when she opens her blinds in the morning. We are not going to be the same when this is over. ❤

  2. You’re right — this is all the catalyst for major change. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it at the other end. Will we socialize differently? Will we shop differently? Will we put down the phones and converse with each other better? Will we select our leaders more thoughtfully? It’s actually rather fascinating! A friend told me about a TV documentary about the 1918 pandemic — I think he said it was called “Contagion”, aired on PBS American Experience. The history of 2019-21 will be interesting to look back on!

    • it is interesting. In a good state of mind, I can see that. In a bad state of mind I try to find someone to take the dogs just in case. That’s a smart thing to do and I did it, but… My community is tight and independent, though very spread out. I think people here are used to being self-reliant and don’t expect much from outside which makes sense as there are high mountain passes in all four directions. It’s also why they vote “red” which, to them, means small government not Trump. That’s a problem. They ARE taking care of each other. My job is to stay healthy. This morning a woman I haven’t seen in years texted me to see if I would like her younger son to shop for me. That’s what it’s like here. I think it’s always been that way. BUT social media has made this community closer and we rely on it. It’s true that this nation is made up of many small nations that are very different from each other. ❤

      • It’s the jet stream — it comes down the coast from Alaska, then turns eastward, and our weather depends on how far south it is when it turns. As it travels eastward, there’s a northern lean to it as well, thus from California, often to Colorado (especially the southern part of your state) and on to New England!

  3. Thankfully our “big empty” spaces aren’t verboten during this pandemic so long as we enjoy them individually. I’m grateful to live next to one, different than yours, but similar in the solace it provides.

  4. We have been walking for exercise and fresh air too. All the dogs were out for walks today. It was kind of funny because the doge were on longer leashes so that they could say hello and the people could keep their distance! We haven’t had strong winds but enough that the kids were out attempting to fly kites.

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