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This is Page 69.

See some past weeks' photos below.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.

 

We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

Send your photo.

 Email us for information about sending it to us.

 

 

If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollectionsó many with photosó contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.



previous weeks' photos

index of all photos


Week of March 22, 2010


 

Colorado poet, songwriter, and musician Al "Doc" Mehl submitted a photo along with his poem, "The Braided Country Road," which is set in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. We asked if he had additional photos, and he sent those along with the following commentary:

The poem was inspired by a visit to the home of Ken Moreland, a short drive from Valentine Nebraska, following the celebration of Old West Days in October of 2007.

After a jaw-dropping visit to Ken's barn-clutter "museum" of cowboy heritage and western memorabilia, I started out toward home in a soft drizzling rain. Despite having a rig with four-wheel-drive, I found myself slipping and sliding in the tire ruts of Ken's mile-long road that slices a winding path through the milk-chocolate brown soil of the Sand Hills country.

As I worked to direct my vehicle into the least treacherous of the many grooves, I kept noticing braids of five parallel tire ruts. As I finally reached the gate and turned out onto the highway, the first stanzas of a new poem began to recall the history of vehicular travel across the rolling hills of these ancestral ranches in northern Nebraska.

The Braided Country Road                           

 

The rolling Sand Hills of Nebraska is the dirt that I call home,

Where all the land is kinda granular, a sugíry sandy loam.

Now if your dreamís to have an orchard or a farm, youíd better pass,

Because this powdered milky soil is only meant for growiní grass.

 

Of course thereís nothiní wrong with grass, it lays the groundwork for a ranch,

And thatís become this familyís livelihood, at least my humble branch.

We leave our tracks upon that vegetation, foot or horse or wheeled,

Until the grassy wrap is creased, and then the landís no longer sealed.

 

For doiní heavy work, my ancestors used wagons and a team,

A method good enough to last for generations, it would seem.

But when it all got motorized, a truck or car to haul the load,

That seemed to mark the first appearance of the braided country road.

 

See, if you drive out through the pasture with that modern horseless carriage,

Youíll leave trails of flattened grass blades runniní parallel in marriage,

But with time, the grass is worn away, the tires now newly slicing

Into soil that feels like driviní through a cakeís milk chocílate icing.

 

Those two ruts grow ever deeper, as the soil just melts away,

Eventuílly, your undercarriage starts to brush against the clay.

Thatís when you start a brand new track, your left tires hold the center crease,

Just half a car-width to the right, the road secures a wider lease.

 

But now the wagon ruts have doubled, grassless scars soon number four;

Before that center ridge is lost youíll maybe choose to carve one more.

You move out left this time, and line the right side down the center groove,

And plow the fifth and final trough, until itís finílly time to move.

 

Itís time to start a brand new path, before youíve pressed your final luck,

To find one tire is off the ground, and youíre high-centered, and youíre stuck.

You jump the whole track way out wide, where all the grass is still alive,

And start the weaving once again, and make another braid of five.

 

Oíre many months, when these five ruts become too deep to navigate,

Youíll start anew, out on the other side, a mirror-image mate.

And through the years, you will complete the trio, three long braids of five,

With evíry rut now deep and lifeless, but each thinning ridge alive.

 

These long artistic prairie carvings, as they wind and serpentine,

Plot out a course across the landscape, triplets lovingly aligned,

Yet pulled together at the gate, a sinew bind placed tenderly,

Just as the mother braids the daughter, native aborigine.

 

Itís at that binding gate youíll pause someday, and come to realize

That all three braids are near impassable; theyíll lay before your eyes,

But youíll be paralyzed to choose which rutted muddy trackís the bestÖ
Itís time to build another gate, and bring the road in from the west. 

 

© 2008, Al Mehl
This article may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




"Doc" Mehl atop Chalk-Eye, Sand Hill country of Nebraska



Windmill and stock tank, Sand Hill country of Nebraska


One-room school house, Sand Hill country of Nebraska

Signature boot-topped fence posts, Moreland Ranch



Al "Doc" Mehl has a previous contribution to Picture the West:

 

amclintsled.gif (99072 bytes)  to accompany his  poem, "The Great Depresson"

 


 

Read more about Al Mehl and more of his poetry here.

 


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


Week of March 15, 2010

Photographer and journalist Jeri Dobrowski sends photos of this winter's petroleum exploration work in her area of Western North Dakota/Eastern Montana, along with two vintage photos. She provides captions and descriptions:


Seismic Vibrator Vehicles
 

Jeri Dobrowski has contributed many other interesting photos to "Picture the West," including:

  Striking photos of her prairie flower garden

  Highway signs from the eastbound I-94 Rest Area between Rosebud and Hathaway, Montana

More highway signs, from the eastbound I-94 rest area, near Hysham, Montana 

  Photos and historical markers from Montana's Highway 12

  Photos of her family's veterans for Veteran's Day

  A special Fourth of July photo

  Photos and stories from the early 1900s in Coalwood, Montana, where her great grandfather John W. Janssen was postmaster and proprietor of the general store

  Photos about her grandfather and "all the things he ever rode..."
 

Family photos of generations of veterans and some additional World War I photos

Family photos from Yellowstone, from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s

Contemporary photos for the Fourth of July

  1940s-era photos about McNierney Livestock

 
photo by Jennifer Dobrowski

Read Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session and more about her here.

See her gallery of Western performers and others at her site here.

 


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


 

   

        

       

     

       

     

     

     

    

     

   

     

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell us your stories!  If you have a photo to share, email us.

See an index of all past photos here.

 

 

 

 

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