Word from the Range, A New Leaf

Word from the Range

By Lyn Messersmith



A New Leaf


We ran away from home last weekend. Business in Rapid City had us headed north so we decided to take the camper and have a mini-vacation in the Hills. Bruce had a meeting to attend on Thursday so we got a late start, but made Sheridan Lake Campground just between” can see” and “can’t see.” It was all “can’t see” by the time we found a spot but I’ll say this much. My husband is pretty good at setting up and leveling a camper in the dark. I’m not as good at holding the flashlight, but he was nice enough not to complain. I felt bad for the people camped across the road, having to deal with our headlights in their window, but we shut them down as soon as possible.

Daylight gave us a better notion of our surroundings, and confirmed the fact that seasons are on the cusp of change. The forest floor is almost all yellow now. A few tiny wildflowers remain, and the undergrowth is still nicely green, but the low growth plants have put on their fall colors.

I always forget how calm it is in the forest. Even with a bit of wind stirring the lake we could hear people talking clear across the campground, and they weren’t being loud and obnoxious either. The night air was so fresh we hunted up extra covers and called the dogs to bed, but warm days found us napping again.

The thing I enjoy most about camping is the fact that there’s no agenda. Eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired. No phone service, no computers to keep us working. Fish if you want; read a book if you don’t, watch the neighbors push kids in a hammock, or walk the dogs and visit with other campers.

The thing that puzzles me about camping is the tendency of some folks to make sure they are noticed. Several motorcycles buzzed through, not stopping to see anyone, just revving their motors as if to say, “Look at me, I’m here!”

Saturday evening the party people were out in force on the lake. Anyone wanting a quiet sunset fishing hour might as well pack it in, for all the jet skis and speed boats. Sound sure carries in the mountains. Sunday morning should be quieter then… well, not so much. But a little girl fishing with her family on the dock caught a little one and jumped and squealed for joy. That’s a noise I could appreciate.

On the way home, I noticed that some of the cottonwoods are already highlighting their hair—turning over a new leaf, so to speak. Pretty soon the leaves will be gone and we will huddle in our houses by the wood stoves instead of near a campfire. I hope to get back to the Black Hills one more time before then, but either way I plan to turn over a new leaf of my own. This hustle and bustle life has to slow down. My daughter sent me the solution a few years ago and it’s posted above my desk in large letters. “The Answer is NO”.

Maybe my new leaf needs to be just reading that aloud to myself every morning.