Ties that Bind

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Despite the crummy weather in Wyoming last weekend, I was able to drive to my friends’ ranch near Kaycee and share time with my parents, my husband, Mary-dog, and our good friends Kevin and Judy Lund (I got out of town prior to the latest spring snow storm!). The solace of the JKL Ranch near the Powder River and the warmth of companionship took the chill off the damp weather. In between systems of rain and snow, the greening grass, singing birds, and sightings of wildlife provided us with touches of spring. All of that combined to add sunshine to our days and festiveness to our evenings. Amazing how nature and nurture work together to bring joy to one’s heart!

big tree at ranch
Sunrise at the JKL Ranch in Wyoming

As I alluded to in previous blog posts, our relationships with others help define who we are and impact what we do. Whether those people are family members, friends, work colleagues, other writers, publishers or readers of our stories, each person adds something to our lives. We hope that “something” is positive, but sometimes it’s not. We can struggle with certain relationships, even the relationship we have with ourselves. Are we nurturing ourselves? Are others nurturing toward us? Or do we bemoan who we are and let others belittle who we are? I urge each of us to surround ourselves with encouragers … and to encourage ourselves when needed.

I am blessed to be loved by many people, including my dear, aging parents. I worry over them at times, especially on lengthy drives such as they took last weekend – nearly 400 miles one-way. My father is nearly 80 years old (his birthday is in July) and my mother 77. Mom has never driven so Dad is the lone person behind the wheel. Thankfully, he still manages well; they will be traveling to Oregon for a Mansfield family reunion – likely, the last as each one of his brothers is also in their 70s (one is flying from Mississippi, the other two live in Oregon). They were to have had this reunion last year, but unfortunately, one of the wives fell and broke her ankle, so the reunion was postponed a year. My hope is that they all enjoy each other’s company as much as the Mansfields/Irwins did last weekend.

Gayle M. Irwin and her husband Greg and her parents Earl and Marcia Mansfield

Our friends the Lunds are so warm and welcoming! This is my fourth trip to their ranch this year, and though little writing was accomplished on this particular trek, the main of idea was fellowship, which was greatly accomplished. So was a lot of wildlife watching. Again, in spite of the nasty weather, we had one day where we drove around the ranch (thanks to our friends’ all-terrain Kubota) and took two different afternoon adventures, one to what’s known as Red Wall Country – an area of vast ranches and rich history (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid frequently hid out in this region). We also traveled to the northwest part of the lower Bighorn Mountains, to another ranching/former town site area known as mayoworth signMayoworth; a sign for a former stagestop presented itself in addition to the many species of wildlife: mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, turkeys, sandhill cranes, hawks, pheasants, Canada geese, and plentiful songbirds. Bluebirds were returning and meadowlarks, Wyoming’s state bird, chorused from fence posts. We watched and listened to several tom turkeys as they courted harems of hens, and we saw several herds of deer in many different pastures. The sound of my new camera clicking made my parents laugh and tell my husband a “Gayle and the deer picture story” from my childhood – before digital cameras allowed a person to delete the numerous bad pictures, Gayle took at least nine photos of deer, and mostly captured butts… wasting both film and money. Even as a teen, wildlife and photography fascinated me. Sharing memories, and making more as in last weekend at the ranch, is one of the great joys of relationships.

pair of cranes
A pair of sandhill cranes saunter through prairie grass near Kaycee, Wyoming

As this week unfolds, I’ll be making more memories and binding and building more relationship ties. On Thursday evening, May 5, I’ll share an event with another Casper author as we conduct a program at ART 321, one of the newest galleries, called “Your Life is a Story.” We’re both authors of children’s books; we’ll help participants make their own books and also read from ours, and hopefully sell a few. It’s all part of the monthly Casper Art Walk. Casey Rislov and I are the first authors to have an event at ART 321. We are hoping for strong interest and good success.

Then on Saturday, May 7, I’ll join our own Darrah J. Perez for two events in Lander. In honor of Be Kind to Animals Week, we’ll share our words at the Fremont County Library in Lander for four hours then for two additional hours at Mr. D’s Coffee and Books. This is my first time at either place, and I’m grateful to Darrah for setting it all up. We’ll be collecting pet supplies to donate to area pet rescue organizations as well. Collaborating, helping, and giving back, both through our books and through our partnership endeavors – so exciting!

The quiet of last weekend, the beauty of nature and the loving nurture around me, and now forthcoming the busyness of the days ahead and the joy of the interactions I’ll have, may seem polar opposites – but they all fill me with joy and excitement.

meadowlark singing
A western meadowlark trills from a fence post in Wyoming.

There’s an old hymn that goes, “Blest be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love…” Whether Christian or not, the ties that are bond by love and respect are the best types of relationships to experience, the most meaningful, the most lasting. As writers and as human beings, we are blessed by and through our relationships with others. I am blessed by my parents, and I try to be a blessing to them. I am blessed to have a kind, loving, and supportive husband. I am blessed by my relationships with my pets and with and by my human friends. I am blessed interacting with nature, and I am blessed by my readers and others who support my writing endeavors. I hope, too, that I can be and am a blessing to others, people, pets, and nature.

My prayer for all of you is that you, too, are blessed by ties that bind in love and respect.

Greg Gayle Mom Dad_cabin
Gayle and her family at the Irwins’ mountain cabin.


Yellowstone Sign_Gayle Mary_smallerGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults; she also freelances for several Rocky Mountain area newspapers and magazines and is a contributor to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the upcoming “The Spirit of America.” A strong supporter of pet rescue and conservation organizations, Gayle enjoys traveling and volunteering with such groups. She regularly speaks in schools, at libraries, and for various civic and faith-based events where she enjoys sharing about the human-pet bond and the lessons people learn from animals and nature. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.


SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover  Spirit of America book


25 thoughts on “Ties that Bind

  1. What a lovely post! I loved the pictures–you’ve clearly gotten better over the years–but mostly I was warmed by the story of family love and fellowship. I can attest to the truth of what you said.


  2. Gayle,
    Perfect. You articulated the joys of nature, family and friends so beautifully. People come into our lives for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that stay forever. Sometimes the memories, good and bad, are enough. Thank you my friend. Doris


    1. Yes, Doris, you are so right — many people who were a large part of my life are no longer there, but the memories remain. I’m so thankful for this past weekend and I’ll cherish the memories for a good, long while. I hope you enjoy a blessed week! Thanks for stopping by to comment!


    1. Thanks, Kate — things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped on one end, but at the other end, they did. I was able to secure a new book venue, though, so overall the trip went well. 🙂


  3. Great wildlife pictures! Glad you had a great, fulfilling weekend. And good luck tonight with the Art Walk. I will think of you as I sit painting at Fashion Crossroads as their featured artist for the walk.


    1. Some wonderful new doors have opened for both of us, Neva — isnt that a blessing?! So, too, is friendship, and I’m glad we share such a special one! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂


  4. Family really matter to me, too and it’s great toe enjoy the great outdoors with them. It’s natural to worry about your folks and they know they have your constant support. Best wishes with all of the ventures you’re involved in.


  5. Loved it! You weave such beautiful words that they sound like music. I agree that family, friends and acquaintances are all important. Plus, you see the beauty around you. Thank you for sharing, Gayle!


    1. Thank you, Linda, for your sweet words! You have such a way of encouraging, and I am grateful. I was blessed by both of my trips, and I am blessed to be part of this group. Thank you!!


  6. Wonderful photos, Gayle. You’re lucky to be surrounded by such beauty (and a loving family too). I hope you had a successful event yesterday and will have one tomorrow! It sounds like it will be fun no matter what.


    1. Thank you, Sarah, for your kind comments. All of the events had their pros and cons (most do!) — finding new readers and new venues was a great blessing; so was sharing time with family and friends. I look forward to a few weeks “down time” then when June arrives, the signings and events begin again. So do the blessings and that includes the beauty of nature around me! 🙂


  7. I have never seen sandhill cranes, loved the meadow lark photo. As always you have a full schedule. I have some wonderful friends, but both my parents and Del’s are dead. As anyone knows I am fascinated with my grandkids and great grandkids. Cher’ley


    1. Cher’ley, sandhills come to Florida — you should explore where they are and go see them; they are amazing birds! I love the meadowlarks, too — certainly a sign of spring in Wyoming!! Enjoy your family — family is precious!!


  8. You’re right about the importance of relationships and the ties that bind us to the people we love. I don’t always keep that in mind. Thank you for writing about it. When I was a child, the Methodist congregation would gather in the sanctuary following Sunday school classes to sing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” before dispersing. A good memory.


    1. Glad I could bring good memories for you, Kathy. I, too, remember singing that song as a youngster. Ties that bind help us stay sturdy, steady, and strong, and I’m grateful for those relationships (and for the ties that bind me to nature!)


  9. Many here have no doubt read my nonfiction pieces about my extended family that originated in Rittman, Ohio. I just got a call from a cousin and his wife that I haven’t seen in almost 50 years. We use to go up to their home on Wolf Lake in the summers and spend a week or so there swimming and catching up on family stuff. My memories of those times in the 1950s and 1960s are very precious to me. Well, Tom Kurtz and his wife Lynn are vacationing in the Southwest and we’re planning to get together in Henderson in about a week. Should be interesting to see if any deeply buried memories can be dredged up during the visit.


    1. How wonderful, Mike!! I hope the visit goes/has gone well!! I hope to see some cousins right after the 4th of July, people I haven’t seen since I was 16 … and that was many years ago!


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