"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While I'm in Minnesota.....

My pre-Yellowstone life involved me with lots of animals. I raised miniature donkeys and llamas but also had pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, horses, ponies, chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc. Organizations would come and have farm tours and I supplied animals for local live nativities at Christmas. I also was brought orphaned fawns by the game warden. I would raise them and release them. Lots of fun and a LOT of work. I also returned to college as an adult with a major in archaeology. I had hopes of being a national park ranger. Someday.

My love of animals rubbed off on my daughter who now has her own herd of horses. She is a barrel racer and has won numerous titles, trophies, belt buckles, ribbons, awards and money. She is especially proud of being a qualified to attend the National Barrel Horse World Competitions these past two years. She breaks and trains all her own horses and even has a pony that she has trained to pull a cart (in the winter it is a sled) and do tricks. She lives and breaths horses and has hopes of being a licensed equine chiropractor and massage therapist, trainer and farrier.

My middle child, a son, is a very social and outgoing young man. He has played the violin for 12 years and spent one week during his summers playing in the Youth Symphony at the International Peace Gardens at the International Music Camp. He recently discovered his love for theater and has been involved in numerous productions (one in which his cast was invited to perform at an art festival in Scotland ~ too expensive to go) This past summer he had a part in The Fiddler on the Roof with the Northern Lite Opera Company. His future goal is to be a neurology surgeon and spent time last summer at Georgetown University in a student medical program.

My oldest son and his girlfriend are expecting a child in December. He is a very proud-to-be papa. He is very sport orientated and loves football (Go Vikings!). He works full-time at a family business but his off time is spent playing or watching sports and spending time with his girlfriend and also preparing for the new arrival. I will be the designated grandma who will teach my granddaughter to love the national parks (especially Yellowstone), animals and wildlife.

Minnesota is known for lakes (over 10,000) but it also has quite the assortment of wildlife. We are the home to over 2,000 wolves. I have heard them howling in the evenings and have seen evidence of them. But with all those wolves in the area I have actually only seen one Minnesota wolf. There is even a couple herds of elk in Minnesota, and there is a small hunting season for them. I saw a herd of elk once. There is plenty of moose and I've had one trot out in front of my car once and proceed walking down the middle of the road with no way around it. There is also a few local mountain lions (which I've never seen) but I have seen lynx and bobcat. And there is a lot of bears here.

The other night as I drove after dark down a back dirt road my car headlights hit a black creature lumbering down the side of the road and then leap off into a river with tall reeds. I asked my daughter if she saw the big black dog. Her reply was: "Ummm, mom that was a bear. And exactly who spent the entire summer in Yellowstone?" Obviously I was not in wildlife mode and I had a bit of difficulty with species identification.