This 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!
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.
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; 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.
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.
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.
Gayle 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.