Early June Stroll Paints Wyoming Morning

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

Morning people have always impressed me. For some time now, it has been my desire to reinvent myself as a lark, rather than an owl. These two birds pretty much represent those two unique kinds of people – the morning person and the night owl.

A few years ago, I discovered how beautiful it could be early in the morning and I now delight in being up at an early hour. Let me tell you about a recent morning.

Maybe it was a sudden gust of wind or a deer bumping into one of Nancy’s bird feeders, but something woke me up. I climbed out of bed at an early hour and took in the full impact of my surroundings.

Is there anything on earth better than the cool Wyoming air early in the morning?

My shadow loomed out far before me as I wandered around the yard. My other Shadow (our dog) was hot on my heels as we checked things out. Nancy’s bird feeders were busy with chattering birds and some had been toppled by squirrels or raccoons.

After pouring myself a hot cup of coffee, the dog and I headed off on a walk. We live near Lander City Park close to the Popo Agie River. The dog and I took off to check out the flow.

The river’s channel was full. Recent rains were providing ample runoff. It was running very high and was making quite a bit noise, even from a distance. You could hear big rocks clicking together as the force pushed them downstream.

Watching the river is a great pastime. The ebbs and flows change constantly throughout the year.

We had endured a 50-year flood event in 2010 in Lander when I lost a cabin and a fourth of an acre of ground to the rushing water.

This year we were luckier but other places were not. Still the water I was looking at in the raging Popo Agie was white with foam.

Drought? What drought?

We all know that with the sun burning through our clear Wyoming sky and the consistent western winds, well, it will be dry again, soon enough.

But to be able to enjoy the green and the wetness here in Wyoming is worth savoring. I flew in a small plane over Fremont, Park and Sheridan Counties earlier and I couldn’t recall ever seeing those areas as green as they are right now during the month of June.

A relative of mine from Iowa used to tease me about our state color being brown. “It really is brown out there,” he would exclaim, which is the truth, especially compared to Iowa. But not now in June it is green.

But back to my morning walk. The colors are so vivid at this time of day. These are “Wyoming Painted Mornings” as the golden light of the sun illuminates the Wind River Mountainsides with alpenglow. You could make out the Bears Ears rock formation that towers over Dickinson Park up there in the mountains. You couldn’t help noticing how white the distant mountains still were from the May snowstorms.

We are at the beginning of the summer season, a time some people dread as they see it as a time of heat and wind. I see it just the opposite. It is a time of glory to celebrate the beginning of another growing season and a time to reflect on the comings and goings of nature’s wonderful gifts to us.

A rooster crowed over on Hillcrest Drive. A few members of Lander’s town deer herd were stirring, too. A tiny fawn hippity-hopped off in the distance. Some dogs over by City Park were barking.

My dog and I spotted just the head of a big buck with his new antlers above the waves of blowing grass near the river. With the river noise and the breeze, he didn’t hear or see us approach. When he did, he jumped up and bounded over a fence and was gone. Was he the latest incarnation of Uncle Buck, the huge patriarch of the Lander deer herd? It was hard to tell for sure, but that rack looked familiar.

As he headed off through the trees Shadow and I headed back toward the house.

As we did, I looked back at my long shadow stretching out behind me and took in all the glorious colors of the summer morning. I called this my very own Wyoming Painted Morning.


Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com or fine book stores.

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