The days of camping whenever, wherever are over for now. Today the high will be 45 degrees; tonight we get snow showers. Just wet and cold. Snow camping beckons, but not until after a large snowfall, when the skies are cobalt blue, the humidity low, and the snow a fine powder.
So what does a wanderer do? For one thing, someone has to clean my house. Ugg. However, Kerry is coming for the weekend of the 19th, so I am motivated.
Yesterday before the Broncos game I planted more daffodil bulbs. While digging the holes, I heard bird sounds. They were distant but I could tell that huge numbers of birds were flying south, right through town. They came into town from the north west and then took a straight route south, following the train tracks. I grabbed the binoculars in the van, but the birds were too high to identify. All I could get in focus was the black silhouette of a large bird with a long neck. The honking was softer than a Canada Goose, and the birds also screamed and cheered, pushing south with an immense presence. A group of small birds nearby flitted nervously at the sound. A hawk made wide circles below, watching cautiously. Thousands of birds flew south in the short time I was out. A friend commented below that the birds were Sandhill Cranes.
I rode my bicycle around the edges of town looking at the changing trees. Pumpkins and Halloween decor embellishedfront porches. Piles of firewood were neatly stacked near garages, and the fragrance of wood burning floated gently in the autumn air. At restaurants and liquor stores I saw banners that said, “Welcome Hunters.” Many locals are out and I heard that a friend got his elk last week. Wyoming also attracts affluent hunters from back east, who can pay up to $5,000 for a guided trip on private ranches.
I also saw dump trucks hauling beets. Sugar beets are a late crop here, and if the fields are too wet or frozen, the beets sit in the field, sometimes to rot. This year, the harvest goes on, and I see full trucks rumble through town from the beet fields to the west. I decided to jump in the car and get photos of the beet mountain. There, workers weighed the full trucks and the whole loads were dumped onto the pile, a mountain really by the end of the season. From there, the beets go off to a sugar refinery. At one time, Wheatland had its own sugar refinery. The remains sit across the street from the beet mountain.
I also occupied myself recently by cooking the first Hubbard squash of the season. I picked the smallest of the lot and followed a friend’s suggestion: put the squash in a garbage bag and drop against the cement walk. That put a few cracks in the squash, so I got my hammer and opened up those cracks. After baking the pieces at 300 degrees for an hour, I made a cold-weather stew.
Autumn Hubbard Squash Recipe
- diced celery
- diced onion
- diced green chilies or jalapenos, or mix
- Hubbard or other squash
- White beans
- Lime juice
- Seasonings (including cilantro if you like it)
Bake squash until still a bit firm. Over cooked, mushy squash wont work! For stews and casseroles, I make sure that I have to push a bit to get a fork into the squash. Cube a few cups of the cooked squash
Saute celery, onion and chilies.
Add lime juice, seasonings, beans,and cubed squash
Next day left overs: place in casserole, add diced chicken, smother with Queso Cotija or mozzarella cheese, bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.