We turned off Highway 89 and began the short drive up the dirt road to the ranch and through the doorway into my heart. The invisible sentinels of memories lined our pilgrimage to here. Ahead, just on the other side of the cattle guard, we saw our dearest friends waving enthusiastically, as if warming the cool, drizzly morning air for our arrival.
For thirty consecutive years, we have experienced the full range of life’s rhythms here at the Triangle X Ranch and every year, I learn something new from being present to the cadence. On my first visit here in 1986, my son was 7 years old, and today he has children older than he was then. We have celebrated one wedding, many anniversaries and countless birthdays of the dear people we have met here. We have tended to one another’s illnesses and occasional horse-misshaps/accidents.
We have been witnesses to each others’ stories of heartbreak and loss. We have seen the next generation of the ranch-family owners move into leadership roles and seen the birth of their children. We have held a memorial, prayed and wept together, and scattered the ashes of a very dear friend gone too soon from this earth and this year, met the new husband of one of his now-grown granddaughters.
We have come to cherish this place and these landmarks in our lives, understanding that where we are today is the sum total of all of these events. When I flopped onto the bed in the guest room for an afternoon nap, I dozed off and felt the presence of our granddaugher who slept in this bed on the first visit she made to the ranch with us, in 2004. Three years later, in 2007, I had sat propped up in the same bed reading “Little House on the Prairie” to her and her sister. No photos could ever capture these moments of love that are engraved in my heart.
This year, we arrived refreshed and rested, realizing just another point on the continuum of our pilgrimage. There was none of the intensity of previous years where our time here was squeezed in between the limitations of our busy lives. There was no rush to an airport, no TSA, no rental car, no bags to pack and unpack, no question about whether we packed the right things. Rather this year, we pulled up our Airstream, parked it in the lot behind our cabin and brought in what we needed in tote bags. And when the weather got colder and more rainy, the entire inventory of our earthly possessions was just a few feet away. It has somehow become much more simple and just more a part of the way we are showing up to the life we have been given, each day.
There is a song that folks here at the ranch sing whenever they gather around a campfire or the lodge fireplace, and one or two guitars are present. It was written in the late 1970s by Bill Staines, a New Hampshire troubadour who still comes out to Moose, Wyoming once a year to do a concert at the local bar. The song, My Sweet Wyoming Home, is about the heart’s longing to return to the place where one feels “at home”.
I first heard it at a coffee house in Peterborough, New Hampshire on the first “date” that Peter and I had in 1986. The next time I heard it was at the campfire after the evening cookout along the Snake River here in Wyoming. This synchronicity was not lost to me. Yes, and to this day, all those decades later, I listen with an open heart, knowing that “there’s a magpie on the fence rail and he’s calling out my name, and calls me home to my sweet Wyoming home”.
Be well and may your home, however you live in it, be blessed with love.