Friday, July 31, 2009

Defining Adventure

According to my Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition of adventure is, “a remarkable and exciting experience.” This definition encompasses a broad range and can mean something different to everyone and must fit within each individual's comfort zone. I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged my comfort zone has become increasingly smaller, but the memories of adventures past will never diminish and will serve to keep me actively searching for the next thrilling escapade.

I’ve usually associated the term, “adventure,” with an amazing adrenaline-producing event experienced in an exotic and foreign land. Many times in my life this has been the case, but clearly true adventure has no geographic limits and can be found just outside ones door. When I think about all the exciting experiences I’ve had, probably the most outrageous occurred while living in the Solomon Islands. I could go on for, say, an entire book, which I did many years ago. But, for now I’ll just let my mind wander back to being tossed about in an angry South Pacific sea in a small boat, watching with fear as our canoe was pulled out of the ocean before it could be flipped by the next wave, fording rain-swollen rivers, seeing the stark terror in children’s eyes as they spied their first outsider, seeing the suffering from malaria up close, dodging a mad barracuda’s sharp teeth, snorkeling over World War II wreckage, journeying through a maze of idyllic tiny atolls aboard a rusted cargo ship and meeting people whose outlook on life has changed mine forever.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adventures in Gardening

One of my life-long interests has been gardening. Growing up, our gardens contained everything that would grow in Wyoming’s lower elevations, and my mom usually planted enough to feed six families for at least a year, which meant a fall of canning, freezing, drying and storing vegetables. In my adult life I’ve scaled back considerably, but have found new challenges nearly everywhere I’ve lived and haven’t had grand success transferring my Wyoming gardening knowledge to new places.

Between the vog (volcanic smog) and banana slugs the size of my index finger on Hawaii’s Big Island, paradise was one of my least successful gardening adventures. Since I had a dog, poison was out, so I spent many a night with a flashlight and tweezers squeamishly picking slugs off plants, tried trapping them with beer, and experimented with a host of other natural remedies, but in the end I lost. Jackson Hole was another bust. No amount of carrying pots in and out of the house at night and covering plants with blankets can truly compensate for about a 60 day growing season. And, even that was no guarantee I realized one July as I watched the fireworks amid the aftermath of a lovely summer snow storm.

Finally-South Dakota, a locale much similar to the more temperate climes of Wyoming. True enough, but I’ve found the temperatures to be the least of my problems. The deer love plants that deer supposedly don’t touch and find most deer repellent sprays to be merely a seasoning spritz for their salad of my flowers, vegetables, fruits and shrubs. The garden, therefore, is now enclosed by a six-foot high chain-link fence. Problem solved. Wrong again, I forgot about the chipmunks, squirrels, birds and baby bunnies. FYI, baby bunnies love cauliflower and cabbage. Hopefully the rabbits will soon grow too large to fit through the chain-link, but in the meantime, my adventures in gardening continue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In The Beginning

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never took it seriously until circumstances turned a hobby into a passion. The first summer my husband and I worked for the National Park Service, I found myself living in an unfamiliar place in a small mouse-infested cabin with no phone or television while he was away for up to twenty-one days at a time fighting wildfires. Today, most fire assignments are only fourteen days, but I still find plenty of time to write, especially in the summer. The situation during those early years gave me ample time to explore my craft and the setting couldn’t have been more conducive to creativity. No place inspires the imagination quite like Grand Teton National Park. The scenery calms the spirit and soothes the soul, and though I no longer live in the Tetons’ shadow, the image of the majestic mountains still has the ability to draw my heart and mind back to Wyoming.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cowboy Country

Recently I took a road trip with my mom and sister to see the Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colorado. Hearing the country music and watching all the cowboys in the crowd made me anxious to get home and finish the final re-write on the latest book I’ve been working on. The country atmosphere also made me contemplate starting another contemporary western adventure story.

I grew up around horses. My dad was a team roper and my sister and I dabbled at barrel racing, but more than rodeo, horses were just a way of life. I never had a tricycle or roller skates, but I had a pony. The pony was a source of constant entertainment as well as a way to round up the rest of the horses from the pasture at night and bring them into the corrals.

We didn’t take trips when I was young unless horses were involved. I probably didn’t appreciate my dad’s idea of a family vacation--a week-long pack trip in the Washakie Wilderness of the Shoshone National Forest. I’m sure at the time I would have rather gone to Disney Land, but looking back it was one of many experiences few could even imagine.

One of my most harrowing, “Man from Snowy River,” moments came on a cattle drive and I’ve striven in my novel to recapture that feeling of defying gravity on horseback. I want the reader to hold their breath until the end of the scene the way I did when I wrote it. In the book I also hope to share some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I’ve ever seen, and I travel a lot. Haven’t I mentioned that?