Monday, January 26, 2015

Why We Are the Way We Are

          We are a Wyoming family. We hunt. We fish. We pick berries and mushrooms. We know the names of the birds and the flowers. We have names for the places that are special to us – Three Elk Meadow, the name of this blog - is also one of those places. We’re out there in the mountains and the deserts, in fair weather and foul, having the time of our life all year long. We always have, and I hope we always will.
        I am, I guess, what passes for a patriarch in our family. I’m Grandpa, an honor I take very seriously. Perhaps that’s because I never met either of my own grandfathers. They were dead long before I came on the scene. I never knew the man whose name I bear. Never heard his voice or even saw his face, except in the old sepia-toned pictures that have been were handed down to me. My dad didn't remember him much, and I don't think I ever heard him mention his father to me. Never much of a mentioner to begin with, my dad didn't have a lot of memories to work with when it came to his own father. My grandmother wasn't a lot better when it came to sharing memories of the husband she lost to the great influenza epidemic. Maybe it was just too hard to talk about him, even after all those years. He remains elusive, a ghostlike presence in our family almost a century after his passing.

The photos of him at age 40 show a prosperous young stockman. Sandy haired, sporting a Stetson and a pocket watch and wearing a suit. But it’s the eyes that tell the story. Blue-eyed, like his young son and later the grandson he would never know, he looks not so much at the camera as through it. There’s a Michael Martin Murphy song that says “You can see it in the eyes of every woman and man who spends their whole life livin’ close to the land. There’s a love of the country and a pride in the brand in America’s heartland, livin’ close to the land.” That’s what you see. You see the sagebrush sea, the utter vastness of millions of acres without a fence. You see the blazing heat of the summer and the bitter cold of the winter and the constant, endless wind. You see a man who loved being in the saddle, who lived and loved living in the wild. A guy I connect with very deeply, no matter that we never met.
I don't want to be just a picture to my own grandchildren. That’s why we started this blog. We want to share with you the connection we feel with the land – each of us as individuals and all of us collectively as a family. We're a family that loves God, each other and the wild things and wild places of Wyoming. We hope you'll enjoy sharing them with us.

- Grandpa


  1. I made it almost all the way through before I started crying...looking forward to more!

    1. My junior high English teacher always had that same reaction to my writing...good to know that I can still wreak havoc on the English language. Seriously though, thanks!! - Grandpa