My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Butterfly Buddies & Devil's Tower

Since I didn't blog all summer, I thought I'd travel back in time for this post, and share a fun August day spent at
Devil's Tower with my friend Robyn and her husband Jesse (BW couldn't get the day off to come with us, poor kid!) The day was filled with things to be thankful for, like "freedom, sunshine, and a little flower". :-) Also beautiful scenery and the company of friends of the human, butterfly and prairie dog persuasions...

After our two-hour drive to get there, we enjoyed a yummy vegan picnic under the pine trees before setting off on our hike. We hiked the short trail first, which is asphalt and goes right around the base of the Tower. It was pretty crowded, as it typically is in summer. We got some good views of the crazy people who like to climb the sides of the Tower instead of contenting themselves with walking around it. ;-)

Then we hiked the long trail, which is my favorite. It's a dirt trail that winds through some interesting and varied countryside, providing perspectives of the Tower most people never see. And there's usually no one else on the trail. On past hikes, I've had the trail entirely to myself - even during the Sturgis Rally, when the short trail is packed. On this day, we passed one person in the first couple of minutes and that was all.

After our hike we paid a visit to the prairie dog town (always fun!) and listened in on several interesting prairie dog conversations. We also stopped by the adjacent "Circle of Sacred Smoke" sculpture, just unveiled last year.

We were finishing up our long trail hike and were nearing the parking lot when I saw these two butterfly buddies on this thistle. I had to take several photos to get this one, where they both have their wings completely open. Definitely worth the time and patience it took to capture...

"Just living isn't enough," said the butterfly,
"one must also have freedom, sunshine, and a little flower."
~Hans Christian Andersen

And it's also nice to have fun friends with whom to share pretty days, pretty hikes, and pretty thistle flowers. :-)

Here are a few more photos from our day at D.T....

Devil's Tower, or Mato Tipila (Bear's Tower) in Lakota,
America's first national monument (Sept 24, 1906).
Sacred to several Native American Plains tribes,
tempting to climbers, and familiar to "Close Encounters" fans.

Robyn & Jess with Junkyu Muto's Circle of Sacred Smoke

Robyn & Jess on the long trail
overlooking the Belle Fourche River

Another view on the long trail.
(Hey, that soil looks like the Hungarian Paprika I just bought!) :-)

Prairie dog friend on sentry duty

This guy was really giving us a stern talking to! :-)
(To answer Robyn's question, he's saying,"Get off my lawn!")


  1. Wow, awesome photos!! Love your butterflies.

    And thanks for the correct quote... I do wonder what story it's from.


  2. Thanks, rift!

    The version of the quote I used is the best known, but isn't the only translated version. As for which story it's from, I'm so glad you asked! Gives us bibliophiles a chance to go all nerdy. :-) It's from Andersen's story, Sommerfulgen ("The Butterfly"), first published in Danish in 1860. Here's a different translation of the quote, and its context...

    Now it was a windy and wet late autumn; the wind blew cold down the backs of the poor trembling old willows. And that made them creak all over. When the weather is like that it isn't pleasant to fly about in summer clothing, outside. But the Butterfly was not flying out-of-doors; he had happened to fly into a room where there was a fire in the stove and the air was as warm as summer. Here he could at least keep alive."But just to keep alive isn't enough," he said. "To live you must have sunshine and freedom and a little flower to love!"

    Here is the entire story in its English translation by Jean Hersholt, from the Hans Christian Andersen Center web site.

    I also love the last line of the story, "But you can't take the opinion of pot plants," thought the Butterfly. "They converse too much with human beings!" ;-)

  3. Thank You! I've apparently not read any Andersen. This one, typical fairy tale, is rather horrifying!! HA! I'm making some ebooks to read on my handheld even as I type.

    Happy Reading!

  4. You've probably read, "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes" or "The Real Princess" (aka "The Princess and the Pea") - those are some of the more famous (and nicer) Andersen stories. But yeah, many if not most of his fairy tales are dark and disturbing. "The Red Shoes" gave me the absolute willies as a kid and still creeps me out; "The Little Match Girl," almost Dickensian, is haunting, and "Great Claus and Little Claus" is just vile... it repulsed me as a child and I won't read it as an adult! But some of his stories are pretty sweet.... for fairy tales!

    Happy reading to you, too!

  5. The butterflies is an amazing photo! I adore prairie dogs so much and would love to visit Devil's Tower someday.

  6. Hey, Molly! Did you click on the "prairie dog conversations" hyperlink? Really interesting article about how prairie dogs invent new "words" for things they've never seen before! In case you haven't seen this already, you'll probably want to sign this Defenders of Wildlife petition about the EPA approving two new hideous poisons to kill prairie dogs (deadline is Dec 7th).

    I hope you make it to Devil's Tower one day soon! Give me a yell, I'll go with you! :-)

  7. What a beautiful place for hiking!!! And the nice weather accompanied you all the time, what a blue sky! I´m sure it is a very peacefully place, not when the prairie dogs are speaking hihhihihi but their conversation is so fun, I had never heard them before. No doubt we have to go there together when we visit you ;-). Kisses!

    1. It's usually peaceful, except around the time of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally! When it comes to making noise, even the chattiest prairie dogs are no match for all those Harleys (and other motorcycles) descending on a large area of western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming! But if you enjoy people-watching, then that can be a fun time to go to Devil's Tower too! Which we will definitely do when you guys come visit. :-) (Mt. Rushmore - which I personally find tacky, but it's definitely an iconic US landmark - and several very cool caves you can tour are also in the vicinity of D.T.)

    2. P.S. We have a large prairie dog village not terribly far from our house - we can go there, too. I have a bunch of photos and videos I took during a visit there last fall, but have yet to post them on my blog! Bad, BAD blogger! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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