The first year Jim and I were married
there were several blizzards
that left my little teal 4-door Geo metro buried
and our house surrounded by snow drifts
so deep that I did not use
the stairs of my deck nor see my yard fence
for 3 months.
Instead, I walked over the fence straight onto my deck
Then, for the first 12 years of living here on the ranch
we had a drought.
Summers were a dreadful brown.
In fact, in the summer of 2006,
we were afraid of any storm cloud.
Because clouds meant lightning
All of my life, I had been taught
to stay away from hilltops
when there was lightning.
That year, night storms
meant Jim would get up and sit on a hilltop
watching for the glow of a fire.
would be a time for Ann & me
to gather up our four kids
and sit on a hilltop watching for smoke.
Ready to call our husbands
away from another fire if lightning struck
close to home.
That summer the Black Hills were burning
and the prairie was burning too.
My parents evacuated their house in the Black Hills
and we moved several neighbors out of their homes
because the flames were headed toward their house
Here on the prairie.
Weather went from extreme blizzards
at the start of our marriage
to a drought that drifted into dry winters.
So dry that our kids would take plastic sleds
and slide down brown grass and cactus covered hillsides.
Sledding winter, spring, summer, fall on dry ground.
I had no idea then
that the prairie could be
I had no idea
that wildflower seeds lay dormant
waiting to explode in color
and paint the prairie.
Photos & text 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.