The Life I Live


I envision a nicely set table, crystal water pitcher, candlelight, salt wells, and an after dinner cognac. The ritual of dining adding to the magic of an evening with friends. Spending hours perusing cookbooks seeking perfect platemates.  I roast asparagus with a hint of lemon blanketed in parmesan, coupled with grilled salmon crusted in pesto.  Then I serve a creme brulee paired with raspberries and a dollop of freshly whipped cream to bring a perfect evening to a perfect close.

This image, from a life long gone, resides in memories that once defined me and now haunts me when out at 2 am in howling wind and 20 below zero checking for newborn calves on my ATV or horse. Usually, I haven’t seen a human in days.

My new reality is a desperately in-need-of-repair log cabin, an old oak table, dogs strewn across the floor, a blazing fire in a decades-old wood stove to keep me warm, leather chaps hang haphazardly on a nail patiently awaiting their next ride.  On a busy January night, you might find a just born, half-frozen calf defrosting by the stove as I massage it to keep it alive. The old oak table covered with cameras, cattle tags, tools, battery chargers, lenses, mail, and hot sauce for a dab of color.  It’s not the life I imagined but it’s the life I live.

Did I mention the hundreds of acres surrounding me with no soul in sight?  Idaho’s highest peaks looming large outside my door.  The moose returning in spring to birth babies and raise their yearlings. The howl of coyotes waking me at dawn. The wild turkeys that know I’ve no intention of eating them for dinner. The lessons learned from locals standing by my side. Their mastered intimacy with this land, handed down through generations, is the best gift. That’s only the beginning of a life I never imagined. The challenges of living interdependently with the land came unexpectedly, and turned my belief systems upside down. I thought I knew it all in New York City – but it took no time at all to learn I didn’t know a thing.

LindaThe Life I Live

Comments 2

  1. Darla Hintze

    Hi Linda: Love your BLOG! I remember when we first moved here how I would almost start crying when I came back up the valley after I had been to town. I had to learn how to load horses, ride the range, take the kids out into rattlesnake infested country and send them off in a different direction from where I had to be, pack my lunch, pee in a horse trailer, volunteer to go back up in the mountains by myself to check to see if there were any cows left up there (but I chickened out actually), fell off my horse in front of some ladies when I came riding in (and they were so nice to not laugh) and had to camp out in the desert with my sister (also a city girl) and put my dog on my horse because she was so tired from following us on the horses because she had a litter of pups under the camper. We brought cows down from the mountains (my city sister & myself and Marty) and got caught at almost dark with the cows in somebody’s grain field who wanted to charge us. Throwing a flash light at one cow in particular, didn’t stop her at all and the cow ground Marty into the ground. We finally went to someone’s door and called the sheriff’s office or 911 to tell them our predicament and to get a hold of someone. That wasn’t funny at all. Speaking of amateurs, ha, ha, ha!

    Do you know that no one knows what a 2:00 appointment is to meet at your place? In the city, people are pretty punctual. Out here, 2:00 means when you think you might make it. We all understand, that your cows got out, or someone else’s cows got out and you had to help them. Maybe you had to help someone going across the desert because you have been helped before. We all wave around here, such a weird thing to get used to. No one waved when we lived in Denver. Now it’s downright poor not to checkout everyone coming towards you on the highway, so you don’t offend anyone you might know by not waving. We all know the little first numbers on everyone’s license plates and know from that where they live. Of course, you know 7C and that anyone from 7C would be safe to call upon anytime, even in the middle of the desert.

    We all know that the flashing headlights or the bright tail lights on a vehicle mean that there are deer by the highway. It’s not the one that is necessarily on the highway, it is the other twenty that are in the trees waiting to run out and get you. Hitting a deer isn’t nearly as bad as hitting an elk or a moose, which we also need to look out for. One of the worst things is a black cow on the loose after dark. They can create quite a bump in the road.

    Bumps in the road!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aha, you know when spring is on its way. The frost heaves on the highway are beginning and when you go over them with a brand new piece of marble for your window sill in the trunk, it is in two pieces instead of the one piece that it was when you brought it home from Idaho Falls. Never mind, no need to repair it. It fits and it is much easier to carry it in the house than it was when it was in one piece.

    Remember when you had to do the calving at night? Wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and who knows what else lingered out there. Somehow I wasn’t too scared because I didn’t actually know at the time that they were out there. No one told me!!!! Carrying a newborn calf to a warmer place in an old car in the calving lot saved lots of baby calf lives due to the freezing weather. You just put a string around its neck or leg, write a note to yourself what the mother’s tag number is and give it back to her in the morning. One of the benefits of being out in the freezing middle of the night is that there is nothing more beautiful and you get to see it in the moonlight all by yourself. But, you better get back into the house because you have set an alarm and if it goes off, that means that you are maybe in some kind of trouble and someone needs to get up, get dressed and come to your rescue before you freeze to death.

    I remember riding the range and herding cows and having a mother come to me to say that she didn’t have her calf and it was lost. So, you go with the cow back along the trail and find her calf laying down in some sagebrush. The poor little guy was just tired. Some cows are very smart. A cow will also come and get you because she knows that her baby is sick and needs help. Animals are amazing and being associated with them is certainly something to experience.

    We all look after each other here, trust each other mostly and sometimes even leave the doors unlocked at the house. The sky is blue and fresh and the water to drink is the best in the world. That is a pretty good reason for living here. You do learn patience in getting things you need from the store. You just write good lists and get wanted items when you go to town across the desert. It takes all day and you are so glad to get home and thankful that you didn’t hit something in the dark. Actually it is a good day in town and you hopefully wont have to go for another week or so.

    This is a good place to live with beauty all around.

    I remember the wonderful Christmas party that you had at Howard’s Party Barn. It was just amazing and a big big treat for all those who attended. Howard’s Party Barn is a great thing for the community. How generous of them to have that for all of us for many different happy occasions. Some people are real contributors! Thanks Howard and Lavonne!

    There are so many good people here. Take the different bus drivers who take our kids on sports trips or across the country. You know that your kids are as safe with them as they would be with you. You don’t even have to worry. They are real contributors.

    Loved your BLOG Linda, your recipes, stories and photography. You are gifted! Always loved your smile!



    1. Post

      Darla — You said that so well! You always make my heart smile. I learned so many new things about you here….and now understand that you see Mackay so much like I do, and have experienced it in many of the same ways. I hope I see you when I’m home one day soon. Love to you, Darla.

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