With humble acknowledgment of the book with the title Once Around the Sun in Yellowstone, I thought it would be interesting, if slightly late, to share some pictures from (mostly) last year.
Every year since I first moved to Colorado in 2001, I’ve done a little calendar for my family. They started out as images strictly from Colorado, but then there was the year when I moved from Colorado to Montana and back to Texas before returning to Colorado on Jan. 2 the following year, so that was a mixed-image calendar. And then last year was, literally, the year of the horse, and family got all mustangs, every month. This year is no different – and I’m late in selecting images – again – which also doesn’t break my typical pattern.
But one difference: I thought I’d share the images I selected here on the blog, with a brief explanation of why I selected each – a memory of the day/moment. I think most of the images have appeared previously on the blog, with maybe a couple of exceptions, and all were taken last year except December’s boy, which was taken this January, and all except the October image were taken in the month it represents (October’s was taken in November).
We’re in the middle – maybe trending toward the end – of a blizzard, so I’m homebound and looking back through pictures of my beloved wild ones … as if I needed an excuse.
This shot of our littlest wild ‘n wooly, Hayden (thus named because I was in Yellowstone, one of my other favorite places on the planet, when he was born last fall), makes the cover because it was the day after Thanksgiving, and I was having a lovely end-0f-day visit with him and his mama and his new stepdaddy, Chrome. The coyotes were singing and the moon was plump and I didn’t yet know about Molly … and because he gave me this look, full of baby-curiosity. Hayden is the son of Grey/Traveler, which careful readers know is my beloved favorite ( ), and he has had my heart since I first laid eyes on him. I hope he long carries on his daddy’s legacy in the wild heart of his western Colorado home.
Speak of the handsome devil, here’s Grey/Traveler as Mr. January. You can see that last year’s January doesn’t begin to compare with this year’s snowy January. The band was on the west end of the corral hill – almost to the boundary fence. You can just see the base of Filly Peak at right, and in the far background are the La Sal Mountains of Utah (on the other side of which is Moab). I love starting off the year with my boy!
Ahh, happy days. Duke and Chrome were still bachelors last February, still part of the even-then loose-knit Bachelor 7, and they were shadowing Steeldust’s band this day, back in the area southish of the roller-coaster ridge. Sometimes, I have to see the pictures at full resolution on the computer screen to know what I have, but with this moment, as it happened and as I hit the shutter, click after click, I knew I had something special – the capture of a bond between stallions, friends, before the spring frenzy. I had walked out to the band and was sitting on the ground enjoying the visit while they grazed … and then they walked toward and past me, bringing the sounds of their lives with them – hooves on ground, lips and teeth nibbling, gentle snorts as they came – and went – and me, near-breathless at the seeming miracle of their wave on wave. As it happened, Duke stole Raven and her filly, Corona, in late April and had them most of the year until Kreacher stole them back and injured Duke in the process, and Chrome ended up dogging Grey’s band around the end of the summer, persistence that finally paid off when he stole Jif and Hayden about three weeks after he was born … and then acquired Two Boots and her colt, Cuatro, and now presumably has Iya as well.
Well … what can I say? This image has been my desktop image since then. A magical combination of roselight and gorgeous grey and wild life. Shot across an arroyo as he came up from water in the bottom.
This picture was taken after I knew Bones was gone. Roach (pictured) and Poco were grazing alone on a ridgetop. I hiked out, hoping Bones was just over the edge, just out of sight. She wasn’t, and I knew. I walked the whole ridgeline, looking hard on both sides, still, just in case. When I walked back, Poco was leading the way at the base of the ridge, toward an arroyo. I waited till they were on the other side, then followed while they stood there, facing me, watching. On the other side, he led me farther into a narrow valley until he stopped again and faced me again and watched me again while I watched him back, then sat, then got up and explored among the trees. He never moved. Behind him then, motion – a golden eagle launched into the air, and I found what I had dreaded: Bones and her partially born foal. Indeed one of the saddest times I’ve had in the basin. I couldn’t bring myself to use a pic of my bonny Bones, so I used this picture instead, a beautiful picture. It reminds me, though, and that’s enough.
Oh, this one I love. This was a day or two before the wild horse count by the Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, and I was out till the very end o’ day, captivated by young master Sage, racing the wind, testing his legs and lungs and baby muscles running circles around Auntie Baylee. Then it was back to mama for celebration, dinner and a nap, and there he is, after sundown, all at peace, Piedra calm, watching over her firstborn son.
I tried not to repeat horses (too much), but I couldn’t pass this one by. That’s Sage and his Auntie Baylee. She was just 2 last year and a great playmate and babysitter to her sister’s (I think) son. It was a dry spring, and a windy one, and I love the greens and greys and their wind-tousled manes and tails, not to mention their obvious bond.
If ever there was an image that said “I am wild … I live in Spring Creek Basin,” this is it, I thought that day. Duke and his family I hoped he’d have forever, napping in the summer light, McKenna Peak and the unnamed – but absolutely recognizable – promontory in the background. Saltbush and mustangs and eroded hills, jutting buttes and clear blue sky … it could be mustangs anywhere, but it’s Spring Creek Basin. Duke’s always-home … and now, hopefully, Raven’s and Corona’s, too.
If you had such a subject, no doubt he’d appear multiple times in your calendar, too! This was early in the time when Chrome started following Grey’s band, and this image happened when Grey chased Chrome away – toward me. Chrome broke off when he realized I was sitting there, and Grey trotted back to his family.
Toward the end of last year, the ponies started appearing in high places, on hill sides and tops, places I had rarely previously seen them. Untouched forage, maybe … maybe a breath of cooler air above the basin floor. Houdini and Terra pictured. Iya was just to the left out of this image, and Two Boots and Cuatro – and Chrome – were higher to the left. Grey/Traveler and heavy-pregnant Jif were napping at the base of the hill, and Kreacher and Mona and Kootenai (Raven and Corona still with Duke then) were wandering, grazing, between the hill and the road. Unique placement made for unique – to me – photos, and, on their own, reminds me of Little Book Cliffs terrain.
What a fine morning this was (actually in November)! First-thing-in-the-morning sunshine gave way soon after this image was taken to high clouds, but this was quite a lovely morning. Chrome had stolen Jif and Hayden by this time, and Iya was vacillating between her band – very close by – and Chrome’s. So many images to choose from for this month, from this morning alone, but this was the one. He’s so much like his daddy.
Another beautiful morning (and cold) … but this one, tempered by sadness. This was the morning I realized Molly was gone, when I found her filly Liberty, right, with Bounce’s band. Here, she’s with yearling Gaia. Molly and Liberty spent at least a few days with Bounce’s band after they left Seven’s (Liberty’s sire), and I was hopeful they would adopt her when the time came. I am happy to report that as of at least earlier this month, Liberty still has a place with wise Bounce and his young mare, Alegre, and her babies, Gaia and Whisper.
Surely you’ll recognize handsome Hook! This was taken most recently, in early January of this year. This was the day I realized former bachelor Hook had stolen Hollywood’s lovely mare Piedra and her colt (and Hollywood’s son), Sage. I had had a wonderful visit with Steeldust’s band just earlier, then spotted these horses farther away … then made the surprising ID. Cloudy, snowy, wintry. Wild in winter.
Again, I wish all of you a wonderful year, filled with horses and kindness, and I hope that in December, you all have a year beautiful to look back on … another “once around the sun” … and may it be filled with more light than shadows.