Monday, August 8, 2011

Head East Young Man

FOR OUR LAST NIGHT IN SEATTLE, CHAD MADE CHANA MASALA FOR US, and naan on the grill. My oldest is an ambitious cook, making the dough from scratch, turning the flatbread on the grill with tongs. The meal was delicious and next morning we packed ourselves back into our little car and headed east to do our drive in reverse. Going out of town on I-5 we had a last look at the city where even a chink in the pavement becomes a garden. One small triangle of soil at the corner where Olive Way goes over the interstate is a wildish patch that looks weedy at first glance, but a closer inspection shows it has some kind of golden Asters in bloom and something with delicate stalks of lavender gray petals.  Hollyhocks stretch up to the sky with their tight, green buds that look like tiny Vidalia Sweet Onions. This patch is behind a chain link fence and surrounded by concrete, which juts out over the cars speeding by below. On one of our walks I showed it to Chad and he said that nobody tends it. “Probably it just grew there, or somebody seed bombed it.” I said, “I know. That's the point. Gardens just grow here for no particular reason.” Then I went home and googled “seed bombing.” Turns out it is a form of guerrilla gardening.
Ellis drives across the plains.

On the way home we did the longest leg first, across the state of Washington and the thumb of Idaho, then through the long state of Montana, which is aptly named. We passed the exit for Anaconda, where my grandmother was born. Anaconda is an old mining town, and I could see the smokestack in the hills. I have at home a copper spoon with a picture of that smokestack, proclaiming it the “World's Largest Stack.” I regretted not taking that exit as soon as we passed it. When would I travel this road again? 

A few miles later another sign marked the exit for the road to Opportunity and Anaconda. This time I took the opportunity to visit the land of my grandmother's birth.  We had to backtrack about seven miles, but it was worth it to see the rows of close set houses and imagine my grandmother walking here as a child one hundred years ago, looking up at the smokestack in the hills. It was worth it to call my mother from the grocery story there, and say, “Guess where I am?” 

"The World's Largest Stack"

We decided to sleep a little in Montana, and then continued on to Claire's ranch in Wyoming. On the way to Seattle we stayed with my childhood friend, but did little more than wrinkle up her sheets. This time we arrived in time for lunch and I asked to see the new foals she had been facebooking about. Claire's ranch home is in a natural bowl formed by the rolling hills. A road of red clay leads up to her house. I imagined we'd walk over one of these hills and find a little paddock with the horses. But this is a cattle ranch, and this is Wyoming. If Claire's house were at Birdland, the horses would not be in a pasture in the back 40 where I could see them from the kitchen window; they'd  be up at the ball diamond in town, and we'd have to drive there to see them. We got into the truck and drove out through two gates, Claire hopped out to open and then shut each gate, until I suggested that Ellis could do it. My youngest got an introduction to a wire gate, which is not common in the Midwest—simply fence wire stretched between two posts, one of them moveable so you can walk it across the drive and let the truck through. The foals were just 10 days old. One was a little skittish, but the other we could pet a little.

After the visit, Claire offered to call up a horse we could ride, and I thought I was in heaven. But my goodness, look at the time! I've got chores to do, so our riding adventure will have to wait til next time.

Journey in Beauty; Ride in Peace; Blessed Be.

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