The Pringle Place

Our family property in Pringle is generally referred to as “the Pringle Place.” It has a couple of other names, including “Spring-on-Hill,” referring, of course, to the stage stop by that name that crossed the property in the 1870s. But “the Pringle Place” just rolls off the tongue. Anyway, here are a few more shots from our adventure earlier this week. The terrain is so different from the Hills. If you look really hard, you can see the light colored spots on the far hill that were a herd of antelope. And it is hard to picture living in the little shack propped up on cinder blocks. The house, however, is situated in the most beautiful valley, a short drive away from the Pringle Place. I can readily picture living there…IMG_5486eIMG_5567eIMG_5611eThis place is so dear to my heart.

Slow Rain and Relics

The sun and blue sky of Sunday morning had turned into lowering clouds. The sound of raindrops began to hush around us as we followed an old forest service road towards our destination. Before long at all, everyone else was far ahead and out of sight, while I was hunkered down in the wet grass and pine needles taking pictures of spring’s first flowers. What sweetness! We had temperatures in the 40s, and those of us who had properly layered were plenty warm, even with the gentle rain.IMG_5097eWe were hiking in an area of past burn, south and east of Pringle a couple of miles. Before the trail wove down into a valley, distant hilltops could be seen glowing gently under the grey sky, and even scattered blue sky could be seen off to the south east. We saw ample evidence of elk, but not a glimpse of the majestic creatures themselves. No deer, few birds – It was quiet out in the woods. But in amongst the fallen trees and blackened stumps, the purple of pasque flowers could be seen. Life from death. Beauty from ashes. In areas of previous devastating fire, new life springs up with determination.IMG_5059eThe trail took us to the historical remains we had hoped to find. Old foundations, remnants of walls and chimneys, a water pump, a tumbled-in root cellar, sparkling pieces of colored glass, shards of rusted metal, miscellaneous kitchen items, ancient stoves, door knobs, coffee cans – All relics of the homestead or town site that once stood there and the lives that had previously been lived there. We don’t know its name, or who lived there, or whom they knew, or what they did, or where they came from, but someone had a life in that beautiful little valley. What will I leave behind when I’m gone? It is an interesting thought.IMG_5113eIMG_5105eThe raindrops plinked and pattered on a heap of twisted metal, sounding like the rush of a distant, faraway stream. We poked around in the ruins, and could have spent a lot longer there. We only left reluctantly when we figured we should catch up with the rest of the group, who had already gone back to the truck to keep from getting wetter. IMG_5132eIMG_5129The rain picked up, but that hardly mattered. It is spring, and rain is expected! Sarah pointed out how vivid the colors are in the rain, and she is right. It’s as if the rain washes away a layer of dust, leaving everything clean and fresh with the color plainly seen.IMG_5146eIMG_5173eTime and again we extend our Sunday fellowship through the afternoon with hiking. And time and again, I think how perfect a way that is to end a Sunday. Spending time in God’s glorious creation is refreshing any day of the week, but there is something fitting about it on a Sunday – it seems to me that we are in a way extending the sanctuary of worship into the broader realm of His created handiwork. His handiwork and His attributes are proclaimed in the beauty of the landscape, the intricacies of flowers and plant and animal life, the perfect way this earth holds together and flourishes year after year and century after century. When we marvel at and revel in the natural world, we are marveling at and reveling in the works of God’s hands. What a privilege. IMG_5174eWe headed home in a slow drizzle and stopped at Three Forks to get coffee. Beautiful weather. A beautiful day.


Saturday Adventures

The Pringle PlaceThe winds sound different in the pines. They hum and murmur and sing in the needles and in the sun-warmed grass, sweeping clouds from horizon to horizon, drying the earth and warming the earth and waking up all the little messengers of springtime. The earth feels different in the springtime, ready to burst with life, like a person holding back mirth, or like someone with a delightful secret. Tiny plants push through the red soil, little barrel cacti and the elusive pasque flower and star lilies not yet bloomed.

IMG_8921Any excuse to get down to the Pringle place is a good one for me, and today’s excuse was that my cousin Ben was down in Pringle with my aunt and uncle, and I was already going to be in Custer this morning, which is more than halfway there. So after cleaning the church, Roy and I drove down to Pringle – I, armed with my camera, Roy armed with various muskets and pistols – and picked up Ben for a hike.  We couldn’t have picked a better day than the one our Heavenly Father had picked for us.

IMG_8909Our hiking took us along Box Canyon, and down west of the old stage stop, through red gullies and golden meadows, in and out of deep-cut ravines, over and under barbed wire fencing, looking at the favorite places and searching out new. We stumbled across the remains of an ancient log cabin from the homesteading days, found a piece of a rusty old license plate from 1922 and an old stove lid, and picked up a rusted steel trap that must have washed down the gully, or been dragged there.

All the little early wildflowers are beginning to bloom, giving me fresh subjects to capture and identify, from little phlox-like flowers growing low to the red earth, to scrubby yellow complex flowers with foliage that smelled like celery, to a yellow succulent-like flower growing all by itself on a little hillside.
IMG_8897And yes, we found the pasque flowers today! A week ago down on the Pringle place, the little wind flowers were waking up, though were not yet awake, but today they were in beautiful bloom, tucked beneath scrubby pines, nestled down deep in last summer’s grasses.  Whimsical nodding blossoms of palest purple, covered with their coats of silver fur, blending in and almost invisible, but unmistakable. Pasque flowerGrasshoppers chirruped. Mountain bluebirds flickered like blue flames as they lighted on fence posts and fence wire and darted here and there. The junipers and pines were spicy in the warm air, the sky was brilliant and dappled with clouds, the wind was sweet and restless, and the rocks were cool to the touch. Lichens crusted the red stone, quartz sparkled dazzlingly, and the day was perfect.

IMG_8931We picnicked on the tailgate of Roy’s pickup, and when we were done hiking, we did some target shooting. “Shooting makes a bad day good and a good day better,” Roy said. Though, it hardly needed improving – Friends and family, God’s good and glorious creation, a sturdy camera, a picnic in the open air, and the sight of a small herd of antelope hightailing it across the prairie – And, yes, firing a few rounds at some makeshift targets.

A good day. A very good day.

Laura Elizabeth



First Things of Spring

IMG_8733The drive to church on Sunday mornings is a joy, particularly on mornings like this morning, when the ponderosa pines are heavy with recent snow, the hillsides silver with it, and the birches and aspens grey in comparison with it. But this morning was even better, because it is Resurrection Day! What a glorious day to celebrate – We as Christians may have some pretty “radical” social ideas, as we are daily reminded. But, as our pastor reminded us this morning, the most radical belief of all is that Christ, God incarnate, perfect and sinless, came to this earth to die a horrendous death for the sins of the world so that sinful humanity would have a way to enjoy a right relationship with God Almighty. He was buried, and was raised from the dead three days later. And, if that wasn’t enough, He, in the sight of His disciples, was caught up into the sky and then disappeared from sight. And, if that isn’t enough to believe, we believe that He is reigning now, interceding for those who love and follow Him. Amazing? Yes. Beyond our comprehension? Yes. Wonderful? Yes! To be free from the enslaving nature of sin, to be made right before a just and holy God? What a reason to celebrate! IMG_8716And what more beautiful day could we have asked for? After a joy-filled Sunday message, spirited singing, and a feast of a potluck, the family and I, along with Roy and Isaak, headed down to the Pringle property for an afternoon of hiking and exploring. This whole last week was rather hit-and-miss as far as springtime weather was concerned. Snow on Wednesday, slush and snow on Friday, but today was a little piece of Heaven. We stomped along in the mud and the snow and the grassy stubble, but jackets quickly came off, shirt sleeves were rolled up, and the snow sank away. The juniper was fragrant in the warmth of the sun, the grasshoppers chirruped in the grass and flew about wildly, and the earliest prairie wildflowers peered up from the red dirt, low-growing and unobtrusive, almost invisible in the scrubby grasses.IMG_8775A few elusive pasque flowers we found tucked away on warm hillsides, growing lustily in the rocky soil – In a few days, they’ll be open and lovely. There is a story of hundreds of pasque flowers having been found down on the Pringle place, but we didn’t come across more than half a dozen today. Maybe another trip. The earliest messengers of springtime. Such a delicate little flower.

IMG_8728The sun was warm on our backs, warm on our faces, as we wandered this way and that. Deer in the distance fled, but a loner antelope watched curiously as we passed him by. The hundred-year-old rose hedge was beginning to leaf out near the old stage stop dugout. We have plans to bring back a clump of the yellow roses sometime this spring, to plant near the Miner’s Cabin.

IMG_8755There were no rattlesnakes in the dugout this time, like there were when we hiked around in August, so we poked around the area a little more thoroughly. Our rambling took us down into the Box Canyon – Moss grew greenly in the wet and cool of the canyon, and remains of cliff swallow nests clung tenaciously to the walls – The original cliff dwellings. No swallows nesting there yet, but I’ll bet they’ll be back.  We clambered up out the box end of the canyon. A great little scramble that was, with ice and mud underfoot and very little tread on some of our shoes, always in the process of nearly taking out whoever was unwise enough to be behind us, getting covered in sand burrs, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.
IMG_8747It is a season of new life. Resurrection Day is a day to celebrate new spiritual life in Christ and His glorious resurrection. And what better way to spend a Resurrection Day than to be among family and friends and immersed in one of God’s greatest witnesses, His glorious Creation! The first days of springtime mark the beginning of the end of winter, the coming of that new life we all wait expectantly for, as soon as that first fleeting 50 degree day happens.  These first things of springtime, in the first days of springtime, are shy and aloof and evasive. But that won’t last forever – Before too long, the prairies will be covered with wildflowers, bursting at the seams with things alive and green and new. Springtime is here!

Laura Elizabeth