Reflections on this years first 300 miles
Poor little Liska Pearl was soft as butter when we left nearly 4 weeks ago. She is returning stronger and having acquired a fair amount of experience, she did well. The two mares have bonded in a way Montana Spirit and Essie Pearl never did. Montana Spirit has taken on the role of big sister, little Liska Pearl well she is of course the little sister. It’s a pleasure working with the horses when they are quiet together and not bickering.
While in Plains besides speaking at the Back Country Horseman meeting I spoke for the 6th grade classes, mostly about the long ride they were on, SCHOOL! I then had the pleasure of meeting up with the students once again on their class outing at the Bend Guard Station this is my reflection from that stop.
A Good Thing or One more reason to keep our Public Lands PUBLIC!
Two 6th grade classes, from the Plains grade School, 30 plus enthusiastic and rambunctious students on a class field trip swarmed the Bend Guard Station for two days. The restored historic Bend Guard Station also known as The Bend Work Center was once a Ranger Station for the old Cabinet National Forest. The original log ranger cabin which was constructed in 1911 is still on the site. It is located 25 miles or so north of Plains and graciously accommodated the lively, curious students.
In 1989 Jean Nemeth a teacher, forged ahead with her idea of taking the children on an outdoor hands-on experience. Now twenty-eight years later the 6th grade class continues making this yearly trek into the National Forest discovering, learning and growing in a classroom of blue skies and tall evergreen trees. With-out cell phones, I-pads, and social media conversations jig-jaged back and forth while a full moon enhanced the ambiance we all experienced. They were IN LIFE not just watching it. They learned survival skills, ecology, packing a horse, beading and roasted wild game while circled around a large fire pit. You could see it, you could hear it in their voices when they played a Native American game called the “screaming warrior.” You could feel their excitement of being so close to the earth. But there were also moments of reflection as they relaxed into a story told by Native American story teller Dennis Burt.
They quietly boarded the yellow school bus exhausted. It was as if they’d replaced the frantic life they came with – a life we are all to familiar with. They had replaced it with the calmness of cold creeks and wind whistling through tall trees. A bit humbled.
I say “Bravo” to Jean, Sandra and Lisa. To the school for encouraging and continuing the 6th grade outing and to the parents and volunteers that helped to make it happen. This is but one more reason to keep our public lands – public.