This is our third summer here in Star Valley, Wyoming and again, I am still on the hunt for wild huckleberries. They are an awesome little fruit, good for you, rare and hard to find. But now, finally, thanks to a friend, know what I am looking for and where to find them! Yahoo!
Last summer, we were excited to see all of the berries surrounding our home. Beautiful white flowers in the spring and loaded with berries in late summer. Someone told my husband that they were huckleberries! Knowing that they go for about $50 a Ziplock bag full, I was sure we would be rich! We had struck gold, right on our own land.
We invited some friends over to pick some. Sure enough my friend, her husband, another family, and lots of kids with buckets came over ready to pick. My friend promptly asked, “So, where are they?” “Everywhere!” I exclaimed. To my embarrassment and disappointment, she said, “Those are not huckleberries, they are service berries.” Not even close! Ugh!
We enjoyed the night with them and the next day I picked buckets of service berries. It turns out this berry is well-known and used for many things. In some areas they are called Saskatoons. Service berries are not very juicy or tasty, but our grandkids and I made muffins and they loved them on their ice cream. (I learned that if you add enough sugar you can make anything into syrup).
This year our bushes are loaded once again with service berries, and I’ll use them, but I want huckleberries! My husband, Roger, kindly asked, “What is the big deal about huckleberries? Can’t you just plant some, or buy them frozen?” So, I started thinking. Yes, I suppose I could, but I was pretty stuck on finding wild ones in the woods. And I finally did!
I know now that the huckleberry bush is low to the ground and the berries are almost impossible to see from a standing position. (Even when you are only 5’2). While some berries are easy to pick because they grow in clusters, huckleberries grow one by one on single branches underneath the leaves.
I went out again today and all the while I was picking, I kept asking myself why this was so important to me. Why was I set on finding wild huckleberries? Then this insightful quote from Thomas Paine came to mind:
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only
which gives everything its value.”
And isn’t that true of so many things? We take for granted things that come easily – and relish, prize, and value those things that take a bit of effort. Or in this case, a lot of effort!
Last week, I took 3 of our grandkids to hunt for huckleberries and 2 of them gave up almost immediately. But, my little 4-year old granddaughter, Hadley, stuck with it and hit the jackpot. She was proud, and I was prouder. She and I took our little bucket of berries home and made syrup for our pancakes the next morning. Just the two of us. “To the victor goes the spoils.”
Knowing in our hearts that it would be impossible for our little dog Zoey to survive the -21 degree temperatures, our hope was that someone picked her up and decided to keep her. After 3 subzero nights, that was the only scenario we could live with.
On Friday, January 16th, 2016, amidst one of the coldest and snowest winters on record, Roger and I were on our way from Alpine, WY to Jackson, WY to stock up on food and supplies. The week ahead was to be treacherous. When we stopped for gas at the Alpine Junction Chevron station, neither of us noticed that our 2-year old little Morkie had jumped out of the car. It was only 20 miles up the canyon that we realized that she was not in the back, as we had expected, but that she must still be at the gas station.
In a panic we called the Chevron station. “Yes, she said, “we saw a little dog running around the parking lot.” Please bring her in.” I pleaded. “We are on our way!” We quickly made our way back down the icy canyon road to rescue our Zoey. Our hearts sank when we arrived and she was nowhere to be found. We called, searched, drove, walked and hiked for 4 ½ hours. Asking anyone and everyone if they had seen her. People were kind and sympathetic, offering to “keep an eye out” and “spread the word” and “pray for her.”
Surely someone has picked her up. But why haven’t they called? She had a tag on with her name and my phone. We called the vet, the sheriff’s office and Lucky’s Place, the local humane society. All were kind and sympathetic, but I could hear in their voices that at this point, it was likely that we would never see her again. And with the temperatures, well…
Our desperate prayers were pleas for help that she would be safe and if not, that our hearts would be healed from the loss.
By Saturday afternoon, the hard truth began to set in. There was no possible way she could have survived the night and if someone had her, surely, they would have called us by now. With each passing hour, the prospects grew dimmer. Saturday passed into Sunday and we began to feel the emptiness.
On Monday, beyond all comprehension, and in disbelief we received a call from an awesome family that Zoey had been found! They had seen her running through their field and assumed that she had found shelter under their shed. She was wet, cold and scared and would not come to them or let them catch her. She just kept running. They took photos and tried to zoom in to see if they could read her tag, but to no avail.
This great little family, The Dales, went above and beyond to rescue her. Adam & Gretchen put out a wild animal trap with some food on Sunday night.
They caught her on Monday morning and brought her in to warm her up and called us. We, of course dropped everything and through roads were closed, schools had been shut down and the county was calling for no unnecessary travel, we went to pick up our Zoey. She was about 1 mile north of the Alpine Junction where we left her. Safe, but frozen, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.
Today, she is bundled up on the sofa with her little toy lamb, warm, fed and loved more than ever. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the power of prayer and for this kind family who knew how much this little dog needed help. They refused our reward asking us to pay the kindness forward. What a great lesson they have taught their two daughters, Juniper and Hazel. Thank you for your example of goodness and caring.
As I close this remarkable story, may I share with you a poem that I learned when I was little. “All creatures great and small, the good Lord watches over all.” Indeed! And please enjoy this song that has been playing in my head this morning. Consider the Lilies of the Field. We are beyond grateful. May we show our gratitude and do as the Dale’s asked and pay it forward at every opportunity.
One of my favorite walking routes is to follow a dirt road next to a canal. The canal flows between residential backyards and farmland and I always enjoy seeing the animals and watching the farmers as they tend to their early morning chores. One Saturday, I stopped along the way to admire a beautiful tree loaded with hundreds of perfectly ripe, delicious apricots. The tree had grown over the canal and there appeared to be no way to reach them. Apricots are one of my favorite foods and I knew I just had to find a way. As I surveyed the situation, a fellow canal road walker stopped to chat with me about her experience trying to pick some of these un-reachable, but oh so desirable apricots. She said wading into the canal was not a good choice. Apparently, she got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the canal and decided it was just not worth it.
All the way home, I discovered that I indeed, wanted them badly enough to find a way. The words of my BSCI partner Janean Hall, came to me – “What’s another way?” The minute I walked in the door, I told my husband Roger about my plan. I would put a plank over the canal, walk out onto it and reap my rewards. He looked at me as if to say, “You’re an idiot” but just smiled and said that he did not think I could heave a board all the way to the other side. We might be able to use the extension ladder, he suggested! That is what we will do. So we loaded up the ladder and off to the canal we went. My daughter, 9 months pregnant and her daughter 4 were amused to say the least, and decided to join us on this adventure.
Roger surveyed the situation and decided that the ladder would not work either. He suggested that the only way would be a raft. A ha! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? A float tube would do just fine. So back to the house we hurried as if someone else would claim our prize before we could return. But alas, success! My granddaughter Baylee and I floated down the canal until we reached the apricot tree. I grabbed a limb and we started picking apricots by the armloads – we would fill our bags and they would reel us back to the shore to offload our take and back again for more. What fun!
Many of our neighborhood friends have mentioned how they, too admired the apricots. And one said he wondered what had happened to them. One day they were there and the next day they were gone. Hmm, like magic – yeah right!
In life, whatever ‘it’ is for you, you must want it badly enough to do those things that others are not willing to do. You must be willing find another way when your first, second and third attempts fail. It takes courage, creativity and sometimes a little insanity to reach further, dream bigger and aspire higher in order to reap life’s greatest rewards. And sometimes it is not what we are thinking. The true reward here was not really the apricots – it was having bread and jam on the porch swing.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Dug, our adventurous, 10-month pup met his first porcupine. Not only did they meet, but they scrambled, tangled and ran in and out of the bushes over and over again. Not sure why, but he did not seem to grasp the simple principle that all actions have consequences and some of them hurt! He kept going back and back and back. Finally, my daughter and son in law were able to pull him away from the porcupine. With quills in his paws, his mouth and nose, off we went to the nearest country vet. With sedation, a few hours and of course, $200 all is well. But lesson learned? We don’t think so.
Truth is, I can relate. Perhaps you can too. From time to time, I find myself doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Some of us are just slow learners, I guess. Unfortunately, the results and outcomes of many of our decisions are beyond our “here and now.” They are in the future far enough that we fail to make the connection.
I do wonder, however if timing doesn’t have something to do with it. We seek for instant gratification without considering the connection our actions have to our long term outcomes. We love to eat things that are not good for us, often without thinking of the consequences. Maybe, if we gained weight instantly! Or got sick immediately, we would be less likely to make that choice again. Sometimes we buy things we just have to have in that moment and if we can’t afford it, we charge it! Ignoring that the time will come when we need to pay the fiddler. If the bill was due the next day, would we make that same choice?
I would like to think that I would do better if my choices had immediate consequences. You know, like chase a porcupine get shot with painful quills.
On a good day, I get it. I make smart choices. Other days, well, I am just a Dug.
Oh my, what chaos we have created in our family. Roger and I decided last fall to move forward with our plans to get out of the city, move back to Wyoming and build a log home. We purchased 3-1/2 acres of mountain property in Star Valley, Wyoming and as soon as it thaws and the snow turns to mud and much, we will break ground! Roger is retired and looking forward to excavating and building our dream home. I will continue to work as President of BSCI. So much of my work is done in webinars and telephonic meetings and of course I travel for my speaking engagements. As long as I have internet, a telephone,a post office and an airport I’m good to go.
So, here we go. We have caused quite an upheaval with our kids and their families. They are also selling and buying new homes. We are all sorting, storing, de-junking, boxing, moving or selling. Stressful and exciting all at the same time. I will be blogging and adding updates and photos to share our new adventure. This photo is of Black Bear Lane, Trail Ridge Estates, Alpine, Wyoming. Should I look forward to finding out how and why the road got it’s name?
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Our decision to leave the city and build a log home in the mountains of Star Valley, Wyoming was brave, drastic and life-changing. As we have shared our plans, many of our friends and family members ask “Why?” “How can you leave your grandkids?” And my personal favorite, “Really? At your age?”
This decision was made with our family in mind. To create a peaceful, comforting retreat from the crazy busy of life. A sanctuary to connect with self, family and a loving Father in Heaven who has created this beautiful world.
May I refer you to this photo I took about 20 minutes ago. It is of our grandson’s first experience Kayaking. This week he has hiked, (saw a deer this morning) rode a 4-wheeler, learned to make a proper wood pile, ate s’mores, enjoyed fireworks and earned a BB Gun. He has a new appreciation for the outdoors.
These experiences and the many more we will have, explain our “why”don’t you think?