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I took this photo: Bison roundup

bison

The bison roundup

Each fall in the Mission Valley of Montana there is a bison roundup. The animals are brought off the range for inoculations, branding, and chipping. It’s an intense time of riders, wild bison, curious spectators, modern technology, and ancient memories.

One of the first wildlife refuges in the country, the National Bison Range was founded as a place to prevent the extinction of an animal that once numbered in the tens of millions and ranged across the entire US and Canada. The near eradication of this species in the late 1800s is a tangle of politics, racism, westward expansion, genocide, Manifest Destiny, and greed.

The bison that remain in the contiguous US today are remnants of a landscape, an animal, and the people that once relied upon them for life. Yet they are no more than cattle. They may be wild but they do not roam the prairies, for the prairies no longer exist. They may be sacred but they are no longer an icon, for the great nations they sustained are no more.

I took this photo in the heat of the roundup on a cold October day. Seeing it now, I empathize with the bison being herded into a future they cannot see and do not recognize. Forced from the endless days of grass and open sky to the fences and pens of the modern world. We are no more than cattle.

I took this photo: Sunday Special

ammo

Party mixer: beer and ammo, both on sale. 

There are some states where it is still illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays. In other states, you can’t sell ammunition in grocery stores. And then, there is South Dakota.

I took this photo in recognition of our inalienable rights. Beer and ammo. What more do you need on a Sunday afternoon?

I took this photo: I just need a little space

space

The Imnaha River Valley, Oregon

It’s not you. It’s me. Honest.

There are places in the world that are still spaces. Sparsely populated, difficult to get to, sometimes dangerous, always rewarding.

I took this photo of a space that I hope never becomes a place.

I took this photo: Target audience

Maybe I am doing something very wrong here at The Road not Taken Enough. Or very right. Either way, I think they missed their target audience.

And let’s talk about redundancy.

I took this photo as a screenshot of my email today… Maybe I should register them for my website?

I’m totally gonna do that.

That would create nostalgic awesomeness, for sure.

p.s., they are not writing the stories behind my photos

p.p.s., and gods help whoever gets the personal legacy of the real me.

I mean, seriously.

I took this photo: Archeological footnote

footnote

Footnote: Awe and humility, interspecies relationship – big brain v. big body.

It is impossible for me to feel confident in the world these days. The natural disasters alone will set most any thinking person on edge. Add the political instability, of which the US president is a primary source, the ongoing racial, religious, and economic development conflicts, renewed nuclear threats, the mass destruction of the remaining wild places, unprecedented extinctions, the demise of clean water, climate change, and the pillaging of natural resources in places that were thought inviolable and there is enough to stop your heart from beating.

We have big brains. How can we be so utterly ignorant and stupid?

I have a sense of how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. I am but one person. If I don’t answer “urgent” phone calls, emails, or texts, emergencies will be resolved, decisions will be made, and the world will go on. No matter how famous, infamous, rich, or important I may become, all trace of me (except my plastic legacy) will disappear in the blink of a geologic eye. In totality, and geologically, human beings are not of much greater significance.

We evolved big brains that allowed us to domesticate plants and animals for food, turn metal into tools, create art and music, and to send men to the moon. If we are not going to use our brains for the collective good of the human population – not to mention the Earth as our only sustaining home – then I can only hope that the whole of humanity is found to be evolutionarily insignificant and passes the way of the dodo. Which, not incidentally, was wiped out by humans.

I took this photo to record the awe and humility I felt simply stepping into an elephant’s footprint in its native African home. If we cannot appreciate the magnificence of the world around us and rally our collective intellect to better sustain us and the resources we depend upon, we deserve to be nothing more than an archeological footnote to a more evolved species of the future. Perhaps something with a big body rather than a big brain. I hope it’s the elephants.

I took this photo: Good idea, poor implementation

outhouse cold seat

An outhouse door blown open by the winter winds leaves a girl out in the cold.

The absolute opposite of being on the hot seat.

Worksite management specifically rented outhouses as a “courtesy” to the girls on site.

I took this photo as an example of a good idea poorly implemented. Those who don’t have to sit down, don’t always understand the importance of latching the door.

I took this photo: Trespassing? No, just Tresnapping

tresnapping

An ounce of prevention, Big Cat requests that I stay.

The trail was on the east-facing slope, in mid-afternoon, it was entirely shaded. Autumn settled in last week making the shady slope cool and damp but we were in pursuit of a sunny nap clearing.

The trail came to an extravagant but rather permeable fence, then turned and followed the fenceline. One large, mangled, weathered, and high-off-the-ground sign stated, “No trespassing. No hunting. No…”

We followed the trail until it veered away from the fence. Then we crossed the fence, climbed the hill, and found the most lovely picnic spot, complete with a stone fireplace and a picnic table. We also found a perfect, sunny, pine needle-laden opening for a nap.

Enjoying the sun and watching as dozens of turkey vultures wobbled their way south overhead, we heard an engine, grinding up the hill.

“I suppose you know you’re on private property.”

“Yes, we saw the sign.” I mean, really what else could we say? The fence should have been enough.

After a pleasant exchange about where to find an equally beautiful and sunny nap spot on public land, we bid adieu and made our way back to the trail.

It was only later that I coined a new word: tresnapping. We meant no harm, we caused no damage, we merely wanted to nap in the sun, trespassing was necessary to fulfill our goal. Tresnapping. It’s perfect. You read it here first.

I took this photo of Big Cat napping in my duffel bag. I was packing for a work trip. He was tresnapping in silent protest.

I took this photo: The Knight in Wellies

Balvenie Castle knight

While children play, the Knight in Wellies stands watch.

There’s one in every class. You know the kid, the one who is always just on the fringe. Not quite fully accepted- and sometimes not fully interested in being accepted.

They keep to themselves. They have their own drummer. While other kids stick out their tongues and jostle each other, they stand guard in their knight’s helmet and Wellies.

I took this photo in Scotland’s Balvenie Castle adjacent to the Balvenie distillery. This is something one may imagine they have seen after a dram or two of good single malt whisky, but I was stone cold sober. And I did not attempt to fit in by donning a lampshade.

I took this photo: Ew

Decaf coffee

A haiku.

I drink coffee for the cream. Decaf is just fine. Ask anyone, I don’t need the caffeine.

I took this photo in Bozeman, Montana. Kudos to ZCH for remembering the syllables.