19 April 2010

The return of the weather report

This week, it seems, shows Wyoming's weather turning the precipitous corner toward spring. All this truly seems to mean is that there is no snow actually in the forecast, and there's been some balmy weather. None of this is insurance, none of this a guarantee. My students, and some of my coworkers, delight in reminding me of a year, not so far off, when it snowed on the fourth of July. I can see Independence Rock glazed white and slick on Independence Day, and I have to think back to all of those many travelers who stopped at Independence Rock on their long way west and thought of reaching it as a safety point. Make it there by early July and exit the Rockies before snowy doom. One small solace in a world of uncertainty and equipment failure. What would it have meant to those travelers that day, even a handful's scatter of wet, dense flakes, when they had to think so very hard about the continuance of summer? My own soul sinks looking toward a weekend of rain and a temperate fifty degrees; I can't quite think of what snow means anymore, not until we're well into the leaf-crunching days of October.

15 April 2010


I have seen seagulls in Wyoming for several days now. I cannot think that they are here by design, unless the design is the wind's. I don't know enough about the West to know if seagulls go to the Great Salt Lake, west of here, but if they did, the winds pulling toward the continent's center are surely strong enough to push a few wayward sea birds with them. I think of them finding the snaking Platte and following it, low as they can fly, and wondering where the thick, salty sea air has gone. They tilt their wings for each winding turn, going very little distance for how far they fly. I wonder if they find the ocean again, or if they stand on some prairie plateau, flatten their wings for the sun until it leeches all sense of sea from their feathers. I wonder if they perch on beef cattle, lift themselves to our mountain just south, scrape up bits of bone and sand in their beaks, and commit themselves to fossils and pronghorn skulls when they can find no spilled popcorn, no teeming shoal.