There was a time, after my mom died, that all I could do was walk the open range. It was fortunate that I could do so, that I had the time and the wherewithal to hear the call of the wind and answer with an open heart. Unsure of reasons or direction, I was fortunate to live in a nice apartment with a new wife. Both of us worked, and we had an income, if not always steady, but inside me there was a wide flat space full of scrub brush and thistles, a hard place going to seed that needed tending.
Back then, the north side of Laramie bumped abruptly into the grass covered plain at the foot of our bedroom window, a few miles back from where that ever blurring boundary shows up now on Google Earth. Each morning I’d wake up and meander off into the distance, without coffee, the morning stars doing their sparkling dance for an audience of one.
That particular parcel of land is now covered by more than grass and a blanket of sky. There’s asphalt and houses and cars and bikes and bare feet in the summer. But that’s okay, if you keep walking, you catch up with the range and with me more than twenty years ago. If the weather was good, I’d cover a lot of ground on those days, the Snowy Range a white crusted mantle on my left, yellow and rust underfoot, each step working out the knots inside.
What surprises me most when I look back, is that sometimes I climbed into our old Corolla wagon and drove miles out of town, only to take some interesting side road or other where I would end up walking miles across government ground or some stranger’s land, leaving the old car half way tipped over on a virtually non-existent dirt shoulder.
What was I thinking?! Traipsing around God-knows-where—with no destination, worse, with no phone! When the serial killer got me, who would know? I hadn’t even told Gina what direction I was headed!
It’s not surprising that native people all over the world find their deepest peace, (and too, their wildest revelations) alone in nature. But I can’t imagine solace in a rain forest, or on the turbulent seas. For me, the arid, uncluttered venue of Wyoming was a place to find a new foundation, to cling to something simple and uncluttered and let go of grief, watch it snap away in the wind, again and again, and again.