The wagon trail was far behind me when I saw ahead, a fort. A fort? Here on the prairie?
I figured the captain would know all the forts along the trail, but I hadn't heard about this one.
Well, I was the Scout, wasn’t I? It was up to me to investigate. It would give me a feel about the people living here. Was it a military post, or a protectorate for the settlers? Perhaps it was a trading post, but not likely a fur trading post, out here on the prairie. Perhaps a supply post. Or it could be for American and Indian negotiations.
Soldiers and families rushed out to see who was riding into their midst, and I was welcomed. However, a shock-wave descended over the group when they saw that I was female. I heard murmurings from the people who had gathered. “A female scout?” A woman riding astride? “Who does she think she is?
On man made a lewd remark that made me feel slimed.
One friendly young soldier took my horse into the stable saying he would feed and water it.
I was new to the group, and an oddity, and soon some of the people warmed to me, especially the girls. But within the group, I heard rumors and innuendoes and downright prejudices about people that were not to their liking. I was an American settler, that was okay, however, they were hostile to the red man, thinking he ought to be removed from “Their” land.
I thought of my little four-year-old Apache brother my momma adopted when his parents were killed. I pray he never hears this.
The people in the fort didn’t trust the influx of people coming across the border either. They felt entitled to this land and the “foreigners” ought to stay out.
The cattle ranchers didn’t like the sheepherders for the sheep nibbled the grass too short for the cattle to wrap their tongues around.
Most of the ranchers didn’t like the wild horses which they believed were taking valuable fodder away for their domestic animals.
The people cut the trees and trapped the wild things for food and profit without thanking the Great Spirit for providing sustenance for them. Someone even suggested that the United States ought to build a WALL between our country and the one next to it.
I couldn’t believe it. I wanted out of there.
During a moment of calm, I slipped away, ran to the stable, mounted my horse and beat-hoof out of there, hoping nobody followed me.
I was once again in the open air galloping across a prairie so vast that I believed it would provide for all the peoples who braved coming here.
But I wondered, should I tell those courageous souls in the wagons, those hopeful souls that believe a new life lies ahead, about the fort?
Those wagoners will endure days in the blistering sun. They will ford rivers, and fix broken wagons, and search for good grass and water for their oxen and horses because without food, those animals, they so depend upon, will not survive.
They believe that making their milk cow walk the distance with them is worth its struggle, for it will provide nourishment for their children. But getting enough food into the animal is a day to day battle.
Those courageous adventurers believe they will find a land ahead to be more forgiving and fertile than the prairie they are trudging through or the land they left behind. The land ahead will be beyond wonderful. Ahead is the dream. Their children will grow up in freedom. Their children will have an education, they will see to that, and their children’s lives will be more illustrious, abundant and successful than their own.
I decided to divert the wagon train and miss the fort altogether.
There was nothing there for them.
P.S. A covered wagon held about 2,000 pounds of goods. People were advised to carry enough food to feed their individual families for at least 5 months.
Wagons held dried food and staples like flour, sugar, a substance similar to baking soda, coffee, tea, cornmeal, bacon, crackers, dried meats, dried fruits, dried beans, split peas, oatmeal, vinegar, salt port, potatoes, rice, yeast, salt, and a barrel of water.
They made their clothes, so they brought needles, thread, pins, scissors, and sometimes even cloth and leather. And they had to be prepared for repairs to the wagons and tack, so they brought saws, nails, knives, hammers, shovels, and string. Tools were important but heavy, so they had to be carefully selected.
Food: The pioneers created recipes to cook over a campfire. Baking bread was a daily activity. Bacon was the second most popular food item on the trail. The most common meat was probably squirrel. There was the milk cow that some families took with them. Some engineering woman invented Coffee cake on the trail, made mostly with dried fruit.
Clothes: Clothes had to last. The clothing the pioneers bought with them was all they had to wear unless they could buy or trade for clothes along the trail.
Bless your Heart.
You came to this site.
You get extra white horses to wish upon.
For 20 seconds I'm going to savor knowing you were here.
Hum….dum de dum…
I’ve heard that letting a positive experience settle for 20 seconds changes the brain to be more receptive to good.
We often brush away a compliment, saying “Thank you,” and it slides off.
Three seconds—it’s gone.
Have you noticed how we remember the bad stuff, but forget the good?
I can hear you, "Oh, I remember the good stuff.”
Of course, you do, especially those moments wrought with emotion.
It’s the way our brain works.
Sitting in a Vet's office one day an elderly man asked me if I would like to see his cats.
"Sure," I said.
He showed me a picture of two dead cats.
I almost fell off my chair.
He had no malice. He genuinely needed to show me. I could see he loved those cats. Those emotionally packed hurts were emblazoned in his brain.
That’s Negativity bias.
And what is negativity bias anyway?
Dwelling on negativity is a function of the brain.
Our beautiful brain is hardwired to put more weight on the negatives. As we evolved and faced danger, our hair-trigger reaction was to scream, “Tiger,” and run.
If we survived the event, we needed to remember it so we would never be in that situation again. And we needed to go home and tell our fellows about it.
Dr. Rick Henson, a neuropsychologist, his book: Happiness: the New Brain, says:
“The brain is like Velcro for the negative, Teflon for the positive.”
The problem is that those negative experiences—here in our “modern” age it is not usually from tigers, but from financial worries, relationship problems, work-related issues, early abuse, you get the picture.
All that can create a bottle-neck in the brain.
When our cells are stressed, a brain chemical called cortisol pours into our cells. And cells tend to replicate what they just got.
Our body gets used to the cortisol, our cells thrive on it, and want more. The trouble is continual doses of cortisol wear down the body, leaving it prone to disease and pain.
When we try to put aside old patterns of negativity, it makes our cells feel ill, and they want to go back to the old way.
Here come the stories, such as: “I’m stuck, I can’t do it, I’m not built like that,” “I don’t have the capabilities,” but remember,
Just as you are about ready to give up, a shift happens.
Ow brains become Wow brains.
A Wow brain tends to look at life as an exciting, adventurous experience instead of a dangerous one.
Creating new thought patterns is neurolinguistic programming.
Dr. Hanson said he was a geeky kid and not well liked, but when he got to college, he made a discovery. Positive experiences create more positive experiences. If he held onto that encouragement, that compliment, that smile, wink, whatever, he began to feel better.
Thus he promotes the 20-second rule—savor that positive experience for 20 seconds and see what happens.
I noticed, however, as I was doing his process of thinking of a happy event—I choose the day I got my horse—you know I am cuckoo over horses—well at least a couple in my life. As I tried to hold my happy thought about getting Boots, thoughts crept in of the day I lost him.
That was Negativity bias.
Name it and let it go.
Tame the old lizard brain.
Not an easy task.
Over ten years ago daughter dear and I attended The Calvalia horse extravaganza in Dallas Texas. I had to think of it when I came upon those racing white Calvalia horses in the first picture on this page. And being in Texas I had to buy a pair of cowboy boots. (Snake skin.) We had to have a steak too, (Not snake, beef.) and I have to admit, their beef steaks held the prize until years later they were beat by a Santa Fe New Mexico's bone-in ribeye.
The Texas policy of serving a steak is to give it its own plate, nothing else. Sides come, well, on the side in their own dishes.
The event we went to see, Calvalia, has many horses, yet their white ones are the showiest. I’ve seen trick riders before, but the girl that let out a “Whoop!” and came barreling into the arena (on a chestnut colored horse) like a bat out of hell, riding roman style, one foot on one horse one foot on another set the bar.
With my experience with horses, I learned that they, like people, are extremely susceptible to cortisol. And scientific journals have noted that a continual bathing of cortisol will actually shrink their brain.
See, I did have a point talking about horses. for they have similarities with people.
Horses, like people, are easily conditioned—that’s the reason they make such good workers and companions with people. And horses, like people, can damper their natural flight tendency.
Since horses are large animals, they are thought to be tough. They are athletes, strong, yet delicate. Their skin is seven times more sensitive than ours, and their legs—being their primary means of escape, are tendons and bone, not muscle from the knee down. Horses are sensitive to signals that our human eye can barely catch. I discovered, too, that when riding a horse, it will go toward your focus. Let’s say you keep your eyes glued on a fence post. Your horse will go straight to it.
Is it any wonder that I often compare gentling the horse to raising humans?
And you can see too, that I might think that wishing on them is magical.
A Buddhist saying:
Do not think lightly of good—saying it will not come to me.
Drop by drop does the water pot fill.
Likewise, the wise one gathering little by little fills themselves with good.
Be happy. Think good thoughts. I love you,
Sunday husband and I went to the woods, and I lost 20 years.
The big trees did it. The forest. The old growth. My pain-free knee. All contributed to my youthing process.
I read somewhere that old growth trees have over the years accumulated silica into their trunks. And when we are surrounded by that silica, it contributes to our well-being. Notice the difference sometime if you have an opportunity to experience the big trees.
Husband dear and I drove out east of Eugene, Oregon along the McKenzie River. Yep, I know I talked of that area before when we made the same drive during the summer. Now though, we wanted to see the area during its golden-leaf time before deciduous tree hibernation when the forest throws the gray cloak of winter over its sleeping trees.
This trip also gave us a brunch for the soul, a stop at the Obsidian Grill at McKenzie Bridge. I'm raving again. That sandwich was just as good the second and third time as the first. I love the Obsidian chicken sandwich—happy organic chickens they say, artisan bun smeared with what appeared to be Cajun spices, a poblano pepper, bacon, they didn't scrimp on the lettuce tomato or onion, and whatever their secret sauce is adds a vast amount of juice that takes a dozen napkins to sop up. It's great. I had enough bacon and chicken to share with Sweet Pea.
The forest walk reminded me of something Dolores LaChapelle, author of Earth Wisdom wrote: “Patanjali, Buddha, Moses, and Jesus did not go to workshops or seminars or even churches. They went directly to nature; sat under a Bodhi tree of on top of a mountain or in a cave. We've been living off the residual remains of their inspiration for thousands of years, but this has almost run out. It is time to return to the source of this inspiration—the earth itself.”
Mine was just a little walk in the woods, A Hors d'oeuvre, a taste of the wilderness, but then we came home, and I had a deja' vu.
In Hawaii, we had no refrigerator.
Our present fridge was on the fritz. It worked, but husband dear said we must defrost the rrefrigerator and the freezer for a water leakage had caused ice to build up behind the back panel.
In Hawaii, we used an ice chest for months. To celebrate getting a loan on the house we bought a refrigerator. It remained up-plugged though, for we didn't have enough solar power to run it.
Instead of using electricity, we used ice. Used to be people got a block of ice from an iceman who carried that massive chunk of frozen water on his shoulder, dumped it into your icebox, and that ice kept your food cold for a week or until the ice man came again.
The deja' vu came when I loaded some items in an ice chest. My choice, for I didn't want to be running to the refrigerator in the Way-back every few minutes.
We do have an extra refrigerator, thanks to our California experience where we rented a house without one, bought one, and hauled it to Oregon with us. Now we have two, well three, another in the Way-back that we inherited. The trouble is it doesn't get cold, but is beautiful, so it's a possibility someday.
I figured the Universe was making up for denying us refrigerators for a time.
A thousand years ago a Zen Master wrote this poem:
On the road to enlightenment (ahem, I'm not claiming anything), one must still do the minutia of life, chop wood and carry water. The editors of NEW AGE JOURNAL wrote a book with that title: Chop Wood, Carry Water, and their take is a bit different from what I initially thought it meant.
Not only must we chop wood and carry water, meaning take care of business, but our spiritual journey can be because of it.
We do not need to spend our lives sitting piously on a mountain, our life, our journey, comes from the living of it.
I failed my spiritual test as I carried frozen food to the Way-back refrigerator. With all my grunting and grumbling and throwing a few expletives, the Universe would not have given me a gold star.
But then maybe She doesn't care. It was my choice. I could accomplish a task with a glad heart or have a fit.
A screaming fit still gets the job done!
But it's not so great on our nervous system.
Oh well, I'll get another chance when I haul all those frozen items back into the house and put our in-house refrigerator back together again.
This is super cool:
Below are a few photos taken on our McKenzie River trip.