(fossil fish on the left)
I had a very good week. We started out with RAIN! Beautiful rain, two days of rain falling straight down. The ground just swallowed it up! Everything looks greener. Then a friend from college days (we both agreed that was 100 years ago) came from Minneapolis to visit me. I don’t get much company so that was really an honor that she would take the time to do that. We traveled together years ago to Hawaii, Europe and the Pacific Northwest, but since then have had our lives to live. She was a history major in college as I was and she is single so we had much in common. That included politics. It was great to have some good solid conversations without having to bite my tongue. We watched the final episode of The Vietnam War and remembered that time in our lives and how we were affected back home.
We both remembered the institution of the draft. Numbers were drawn out and assigned to birthdays. I lived in the girls’ dorm and I remember the cries and the tears as the birthdays of boy friends were drawn. It was an emotional time. She remembered the next morning the guys meeting on campus on sharing what their draft number was. It changed many lives, sometimes permanently. We agreed we are not over it yet. A friend died in June of Hep C and complications from Agent Orange he contracted while in Viet Nam. Forty years later another casualty.
I had to deliver some prayer shawls from the church at Savage to a pastor in Wolf Point for her work with Native Americans, so it was a good opportunity for us to be out on a brilliant Indian summer day. From Savage MT we headed north to Fairview, then turned and crossed the Yellowstone to Fort Union and Fort Buford in North Dakota. Union is an old fur trading post of the American Fur Trading Company. It was established about 1831. Ft. Buford came later as soldiers were protecting settlers in the area and rounding up Indians for the reservations. Sitting Bull, the great Sioux chief, turned himself in in 1881 at Ft. Buford. Nearby is the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, the arteries of transportation in the early West and for Lewis and Clark. The steamboat FAR WEST came up the Yellowstone and then traveled down the Missouri to Ft. Abraham Lincoln with the news of the massacre at the Little Big Horn. All of this activity came right past Glendive which makes the history of the community a real hub of the Great Plains.
From there we traveled on Highway 2 across the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Wolf Point where we delivered our shawls and then proceeded on to Fort Peck. Fort Peck was the largest earthen dam in the United States, built as a WPA project during the Great Depression. We visited their interpretive center which is fascinating and a great place to bring children — displays of prairie animals — wolf, Grizzly, etc. Water displays with live fish swimming — walleye among them. And fossils galore. Just as Glendive is on the Dinosaur Trail, so is the area around Fort Peck. They discovered a complete T Rex in the vicinity and also had fossils on display from the area. Very impressive. The trip home included dinner in Circle at Around the Town. We were really hungry by that time.
Thursday I took her through Makoshika Park. We walked, took pictures, visited and just enjoyed another beautiful day. For a thank you gift she gave me two books by Minneapolis author William Kent Krueger. I had just finished his newest book Ordinary Grace and had really enjoyed it. It was so funny she picked those. I am ready to read more of his work.
She is now on her way home and today is catch-up day.
The fall weather couldn’t be more gorgeous. Some rain this week-end we are told. Bring it on!!!
As I was looking through my calendar and noting what I have to do for the rest of the month I saw that today, September 21st, was important to a big portion of the world: it is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and it is the Islamic New Year and it is the UN International Day of Peace. Looking at that I wondered if the great God arranged that interesting combination!
Naturally, loving research as I do, I started looking up some information (I guess we 'google' things now. A new verb). The date for Rosh Hashanah, like Easter, depends on the lunar cycle. This year it is in September and is the first of Jewish High Holy Days.
The Islamic New Year is called Muharram and is based on a calendar different from the Gregorian. Again we google and learn that there is fasting, pilgrimages, parades and a time of peace. This is the most sacred month in the calendar. Various Islamic sects vary their celebrations.
The United Nations General Assembly declares this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme for this year is "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all." The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people -- and societies -- from achieving their full potential." He added, "Together let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope."
His words have been said before, many times, but too often the hunger for power, the importance of status draw us away from a way that allows people to just live. In our own country we watch the politicians scrambling over each other in the hopes of making the evening news and being allowed their moment in the camera's eye.
Again we are watching the health care issue come to the forefront and potentially destroy the dreams for a better life for millions of people. And we get tired of fighting big business and big government and big industry and medicine and all those institutions that keep one foot on the neck of those who are down and out. But it is so important to speak out for peace and understanding and to prayer for the will to speak out.
On this day promoting international peace and on this day of the beginning of a new year for millions in our world, could we as individuals make a new beginning to walk a path of peace on their behalf? It seems a simple enough pledge.
A feature article in our local newspaper about the tourist cabins at Yellowstone National Park jarred a couple of memories loose the other day. A gentleman in Livingston is trying to save the cabins by buying them, fixing them up and selling them. According to the article the Park has a few left and he is hoping to continue his work.
In a much easier and gentler time, family vacations were a wonder and a delight. They were no places such as Disney World or even Disney Land (neither of which existed), nor were there Carnival cruises. Any opportunity to get in the car and go any place you hadn’t been before was a delight. Lots of people went camping. Our family did a little of that but not in a big way, but the folks did take us on some wonderful trips.
For most families in the early fifties, in our part of the country, one of the places to go was Yellowstone National Park. It was close and of course, it was a wonder of the world with its mud pots and geysers. We headed west to the Park about 1956. I remember we counted over 30 bears. If you saw a line of vehicles you could be sure there was a bear ahead and of course the problem was, the bears saw it as a great way to get a free lunch. Looking back in horror, now, I remember seeing a parent putting their child on the back of a bear and taking a picture. Our bear story included my brother, only six years old, tossing our breakfast rolls out the window to a nearby bear. Before the folks discovered him, the bear was trying to reach in the car for more. Windows were rolled up quickly. No harm done, but it did send the heart racing. Yellowstone Falls was a beautiful site. My brother and I enjoyed the souvenir shops. I still have a Native American doll, dressed in real leather from that trip.
But to get back to the cabins. There were no fancy lodges or hotels with swimming pools to stay in. We stayed in the rustic cabins provided for tourists. You brought your own bedding, food, and towels. The bathrooms were in a central location and because the bears were usually active at night, digging in the garbage cans, you walked at least in pairs.
The cabin we rented at Canyon was huge. It had a fire place, beds and a bunk bed. Of course the mattress on the bed was on springs and army-barracks-basic. The floor was bare wood. It was extremely cozy and of course the folks made a picnic out of it by fixing a lunch we ate in the cabin. The mornings were chilly and fresh. Throughout the area where the cabins were, early in the day, you could hear people speaking in subdued voices, car doors slamming, all very safe and comfortable to a nine-year old.
Our second cabin was at Old Faithful. It was much smaller and had a wood burning stove. The office for the campground had some type of log that burned longer than ordinary wood. After the folks got it going they were concerned because it burned hotter and they took turns staying awake all night to be sure nothing happened to burn the cabin down. In the morning when Dad went out to look around there was a bear rifling the garbage right next to our cabin. Excitement for my brother and me, not so much for the folks.
In August of 1959, we headed back to the Park in a swing that took us to Riverton, Wyoming, to visit Dad’s sister and then on to South Dakota to visit grandparents. We were going to spend the night at Old Faithful, but it was a hot day and the tourists were filling up the place so we headed south into the Grand Tetons, landing at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the days before the celebrities had discovered it. Again we stayed in a little cabin, basic, but this one at least had a bathroom in the cabin. In the morning Mom informed us there had been an ‘event’ of some kind the night before. My brother agreed with her. She had seen the light bulb, which was hanging from the ceiling, start to swing back and forth. My brother had felt the bed move. When Dad went out to check on things he learned about the Yellowstone Park earthquake. The road we had traveled the day before was closed to all travel until further notice. The epicenter had been close to Old Faithful which we had passed on, thanks to Mom’s sixth sense. Our first job was alerting friends and family (remember no cell phones) that we were o.k.
That particular trip there were less bears as the Park was moving them back into the mountains. It is interesting to hear the talk today about ecology and protecting the animals from all the people. The mud pots, geysers, animal life and scenery have made Yellowstone Park more than ever a destination park.
Enjoying a quiet moment on my front porch this morning. A robin stopped by to drink from the bird bath, also a woodpecker hopped by. The gold finches have been in and out the last few days enjoying the bird feeder. They are so flighty.
The street in front of my house is quite a path for walkers and joggers who like to go out to the Park. The heat kept me from enjoying much this summer, but maybe now that the temperatures seem to have cooled off I will get more ambition.
I can tell fall is in the air. The ornamental grasses in my yard are really doing their 'thing' as the summer flowers begin to wane a little. I still have a load of blossoms on my strawberry hydrangea and I have been bringing them in little by little to dry them. The church has a bazaar in a couple of weeks and I thought perhaps they might be able to sell a few of the larger stalks.
I was thinking this morning as I was moving around to start the day, that I have seen more of a community in living motion this past week. Last Friday I had my first time of jury duty. I was usually excused when I was teaching school and pastoring, but now my time has come. It was neither a long case or a tough case, but I could tell from the folks on the jury that no one was enjoying passing judgment. The law is the law and that is what we were called to interpret, but regardless of the verdict someone is going to be in trouble for years to come. I believe that for the most part, no one wants to see anyone in trouble.
Then last night was city council. A local citizen, brought an issue before the council, with some heat in her voice. I am still the new kid on the block in that venue so I was not privy to the history of the issue. She was listened to and thanked for her views. She had a legitimate point. To satisfy myself I am going to have to do a little more questioning.
So it was community life in action. Shortly I am going to our Circle of Prayer at church. We meet weekly and have a long list of people we pray for and who solicit our prayers. It is practicing the gift of intercessory prayer, something the world is much in need of.