From June 24, 2011, "Lady" by Jessie Veeder Scofield
the lipstick beetle
works her way up a long blade —
lady of earth, sky
The Nodaiku Project is a weekly series of North Dakota-themed haiku poetry, featuring a new haiku poem by Jeremy Bold based on one of Jessie Veeder Scofield’s photographs from her ranch in western North Dakota. See more of Jessie’s photography at Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Daily Photos and find more of nodaiku poems by The Blank Rectangle here at The Blank Rectangle: Nodaiku or by following us on Twitter (@blankrectangle). Click the “Sign me up!” button on the right to get email updates from The Blank Rectangle!
I have to say, even for an obsessive writer like myself, I have found it difficult to keep up the habit on this trip. Trouble is that our crew has had such a good vibe so far on this trip (whiling away the miles by quoting movies, singing pop songs, making campfires and marveling at the many sights of Western ND – what every good road trip should be) that the thoughts which so often wreak havoc in my head have quieted down. It makes me realize how often I am wrapped up in observing the world, conceptualizing it, trying to describe it in words. The experience is a raw experience this time around, and I’m trying to appreciate that while I can, and just keep spare notes on things that I must elaborate on when I more bored and need to fictionalize some excitement into my normal life.
So this post is in hopes I do better keeping those notes for the rest of the trip and put something really great together for the WAND Chronicles, which I’ll be working on when I get back to NYC. The good news is that I have been able to keep up with the nodaikus, which are crucial little images for reminding myself of what it is like to be out here. Hope you haven’t been missing the Weekly Nodaiku posts too much, but if you have, here’s a recent image for the road.
hike, sun-spattered morn
collapse in a copse of trees —
rain passes over
On the fourth morning of the WAND, we had only covered a mile or so when we saw that we were approaching a group of cattle gathered at a cattle grate. We soon realized that they were cornered by the grate and fences on each side–and that among them was a huge bull. As we paused to figure out our strategy, two young cows surprised us by jumped over the grate, which we didn’t think they could manage. We really only had two choices: climb over the fence on the right, or climb over the fence on the left, and then walk overland until we were past the grate. We chose the right side and walked through a small cluster of trees. We then had to climb another fence to get back to the road. It was intimidating to be so close to the bull at that point, even though we were beyond the grate, because there was no actual fence separating us from him. Our plan if he had started to chase us at any point was to drop our packs and scatter, but fortunately it didn’t come to that.
The two cows that had jumped the grate must have decided that was the way to go, because they did it again as we neared the next grate a quarter mile down the road. Shortly afterward, a rancher drove up to us in a truck with a trailer attached. He told us he was concerned that we would continue to drive those cows and potentially a large part of his herd farther and farther from where they were supposed to be. He thought for a moment, then offered to give us a ride until we were in the clear. He told us to grab onto the sides of the trailer, then changed his mind and had us stand inside it. A ten-year-old boy was with him and he rode in the trailer with us–a nice kid from Belfield, ND, helping out at the ranch for the week. We also shared the trailer with a pretty black cow who had her own compartment and mooed plaintively (or so it seemed to me) at the cows in the pasture at one point. Our ride was between two and three miles long. I have mixed feelings about it because it seems like we cheated a little bit by accepting a ride, but it would have been spiteful of us to refuse. And it was unusual and kind of fun to get a ride in a trailer.
On the first day of our journey, we walked, guided by the force of an omnipresent 30+ mph wind out of the West, from the border of North Dakota with Montana, to the very top of Sentinel Butte. After 10 miles of walking, we arrived in the town of Sentinel Butte, which sits in the shadow of its neighboring promontory and shares its name. Ambling into the village, we gingerly approached a small service station, where we had hoped to replenish our water supplies.
I wasn’t certain that this would be possible as I had heard this place was famous for being un-staffed, dispensing gasoline on a sort of honors system, a testament to the trusting nature of its owners and the upright conduct of the area’s residents. As we collapsed on a couple of picnic tables out back, grateful for a place to sit that wasn’t the ground, a man walked out of the back of the station and immediately addressed us, “How about you guys come inside and eat some lunch?” This was Rick, the very first person we spoke with on our journey.
I guess it was the cynicism ingrained in me by city life, but I was concerned at first that he was upset we were using the picnic tables without permission, but no. He was genuine. FREE LUNCH: the leftovers of the weekly Friday lunch potluck, held that day at Olson’s Service Station. Rick and other area residents sat inside chatting, eating burgers, hotdogs and casseroles. We quickly yielded to the persistent pressure to eat some of these goodies. We sat and had nice conversations with several of these folks, including Wendy, a recent transplant from Montana. I asked her what makes ND special, and she responded that she felt North Dakotans have a unique way of looking at things: a very logical and smart approach to solving problems, but one ever so slightly quirky. I was so pleased at the serendipity of these moments and proud to come from a state where a high priority is placed on community and hospitality, that I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the trip.
A big thank you to Sean Soehren, a reporter from the Dickinson Press who interviewed us in Sentinel Butte and wrote a great article about the WAND. It landed on the front page of the newspaper on Saturday, June 4th.
"Jeremy Bold, left, and his brother Tyler Bold hike near Sentinel Butte on Friday afternoon. It was the first day of a 200-mile trek from the Montana border to Bismarck. "
Can you hear the voices on the wind? That’s the WAND team proclaiming the names of our supporters from the top of Sentinel Butte. Enjoy and thank you all!
… at the Golden Valley county line, the western most edge of North Dakota.
The band of merry W.A.N.Derers
Yesterday was an important, busy day for the WAND team. We spent $315 and performed numerous calculations at the grocery store (26 servings of trail mix would be how many ounces?). We familiarized ourselves with the camp stove. We figured out which of our four tent options we’ll be using and when. Tyler and Jeremy did a phone interview with a North Dakota newspaper. We made sure our water resupply points were adequate. And so on.
We still have a fair amount of work to do today before driving to our drop-off point, but we accomplished a lot yesterday. We’re also glad that the weather forecast looks good for western North Dakota for the next several days.
This is our last post before heading out on the trail. We are planning to post an update at a public library a few days into our journey. We’re also hoping to make some other posts along the way, but aren’t certain about computer access. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos from yesterday:
Testing the Camp Stove
The Grocery Receipt
At the Grocery Store