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Dreams of Wyoming.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 09 October 2013
I stand, in the wind and the sun, looking out over the blue hills of Deeside, and talk to a woman from Colorado. Bitter gales have suddenly blown in from the north and after the mildness of early October, it feels like a shock. It is now two-coats weather, if you are working outside, as we are this morning. There is the faint suspicion of snow in the air, although the high mountains are still clear.

I am very excited about the woman from Colorado. She works with horses there, and it feels tremendously exotic to have her in our little valley. She comes from San Francisco, went to university in Utah, and now rides about the great spaces of Leadville, issuing grazing permits.

When I get home, I go and look at Leadville on the satellite map. It is serious hill country. It has singing, evocative names for its places – Turquoise Lake, Mount Buckskin, Savage Peak, Wildcat Mountain, Holy Cross Ridge. My two favourites are the heartfelt and descriptive Hardscrabble Mountain and Fool’s Peak.

Morven.Morven.

As the woman from Colorado and I talk, she tells me she worked for two years in Wyoming. ‘My Friend Flicka!’ I shout, wildly. She looks slightly surprised. I attempt to explain that the great horse trilogy was one of the most vivid and totemic parts of my childhood years. I do not tell her that those books once saved me, when I went on a French exchange, to stay with a family who did not speak a word of English. My schoolgirl French was still rudimentary, and I found myself shy and lonely, caught in the comprehension gap. I remember sitting alone in a dusty music room, watching the sunlight muddle through smeared old windows, reading about the Goose Bar Ranch and feeling a passionate sense of comfort.

‘The Green Grass of Wyoming,’ I exclaim. ‘Is the grass really green in Wyoming?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ says the woman, back on surer ground. She has not read the books that entranced me so, and has no idea what I am talking about. ‘It is green. There’s a lot of it. There is nobody there.’

The River Dee, looking east.The River Dee, looking east.

She pauses and looks up at our own hills, our own green grass. ‘It’s not as green as here, though,’ she says.

As I drive away, I feel obscurely proud. Our grass is greener than that of Wyoming. Who knew? This is huge. Dear old Scotland has scored big on the green grass front. I am so puffed up by this unexpected endorsement that I decide to drive the long way home, and take the looping circuit up towards Morven, my favourite mountain. She stands quite alone, not part of a range, towering over the lesser hills which may be seen round about her. She (and I feel very strongly that she is a she) is like an ancient monument or a druid’s shrine, or so I think in my more magical moments.

On the map, this area does not quite have the spell-binding names of Colorado. There is no Hardscrabble Mountain. There is Glenfenzie Burn, and Loch Davan, and Old Military Road, and Balronald Wood.

The view to the south-west.The view to the south-west.

But in life, the views stretch description. At this time of year, the colours grow strong and singing with clarity. The autumn light is thick and yellow, as if some lighting director in the sky has thrown aside caution and pulled out all the stops. It brings out the purple and sapphire blue of the mountains, the shaved gold of the cut cornfields, the sudden flash of vermilion where the trees are turning. The grass, which I take for granted until I am brought to compare it to that of Wyoming, is indeed the green of emeralds, even so late in the season.

I come back by the south Deeside road, which winds secretly through thick silver birch plantations and pine woods, and runs, for a brief, flashing moment, by the indigo of the mighty river. Then I turn over the bridge, back to civilisation, where there are houses and cars and gentlemen in high-visibility coats mending the telegraph poles.

I have dreamt all my life of Wyoming. Since I was a book-mad child, squinting through dying light to make out the print on the page, being warned that I would ruin my eyes, which I duly did, I have had a picture of that great place living in my head. But as I drive through our own hills and valleys and green grass, I realise that there is an actual daily dream, right here, in my small corner of Scotland.


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