I-80 West

It’s a long way from Des Moines to Colorado. We rose early – time-zone scrambled circadian rhythms being useful for something – and headed west.
The morning started grimly though, as logging on to check the status of the crippled nuke in Japan brought the breaking news of the explosion.
Dammit, why have humans persisted in such stupidity? Nuclear is an exceedingly expensive way to boil water, and as this week’s nasty news has shown, remains vulnerable to the caprice of nature. My tweet querying this brought a reply of “Greed.” My friend April wrote, “Some expect the radiation to reach the Western U.S. Coast in 3 days from when it exploded. …Exploding nuke plants, oil spills… Onsite solar and wind are explosion- and spill-free. They’re healthier for humans, our earth, workers and our economy. This is why you should support renewable energy. Your kids would.” Martina added, “The shortsighted focus on immediate profits supporting the so called growth combined with a faulty sense of security in the face of unpredictable and a lack of understanding/acceptance of possible consequences.” Michael summed it up, “There is no justification for the construction of new nuclear facilities of any kind. Radiation, the gift that keeps on giving.” Good time to remember the stalwart folks at Nuclear Information and Resource Service, www.nirs.org. Even when most of the rest of us forgot that the industry continues to lobby congress for more of your and my tax dollars to support a technology that can no longer even compete with solar. What? Check out last July’s article in the New York Times, “Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage.”
At least e-mail posts to the Balaton list-serve (the global network of sustainability experts founded years ago by Dana and Dennis Meadows, and now one of the best collection of experts anywhere) brought news that our Japanese colleagues are all accounted for. My heart goes out to those cold and alone, who’ve lost it all. Note to self: time on returning home to make yet another donation.
With nothing we could do about it, Steve Wilton, Robbie Noiles and I headed west. Swapping stories and strategies for our work training companies, communities and citizens to profiting from sustainability, we ate down the states. There’s something soothing in hours of companionable silence and farmland rolling by, til Rob exclaimed, “Whoa look at that!”
The sky was chevroned by thousands, hundreds of thousands of birds. They littered pastures, graying the Nebraska cornfields and crowding the ponds.

Cranes. Sandhill cranes. We’d blundered into the spring migration of these creatures who since prehistoric times have gathered here, half a million of em, the State website explained on my i-Pad.
We had to stop and marvel at the sound and sight of this ancient ritual, a sky alive with the chattering, gabbing, whirring of these and millions of geese, ducks, and other feathered fellow migrants.
Just as the birds gather there to fatten themselves for their onward travels, we stopped into Ole’s Big Game Bar in Paxton, Nebraska. A bit of graffiti in the restroom whimpered that the author was hiding out in there cause it was the only place that didn’t have stuffed animal heads staring at her.
A massive polar bear guarded a leopard seal, in the lobby. The obligatory jackalope enlivened an African grand slam, but the real amusement was learning the intricacies of an old fashioned camera to help a family of tourists gathered beneath the stuffed giraffe record their lunch at Ole’s.
Now hours on, there are mountains in the distance. Home….
Aye, we’re home, or at least on the eastern plains of Colorado. I’ve worked cattle in these sand wallows, gathering bulls, entirely disinclined to leave their ladies, but liking less my Australian stock whip and the swift cutting of my gallant little mare, Pig. Ah you should have seen us. The ol boy whose bulls these were wanted to wait til the other riders gathered round – but on 6,000 acres that could take hours. So I pushed Pig up towards Sammy, the herd bull, who we had to get moving first or we’d scatter the whole bunch. Sammy rared his head up, snorted and heaved his hind end skyward (test to tell a country person from a city slicker: how can you tell if an animal getting up is a cow or a horse from a distance? Answer: a horse gets up from the front first, and a cow just like Sammy.) Which exposed a tender part of his anatomy to my ability to reach out and tough someone. Sammy suddenly decided that moving off towards the distant corrals was far preferable. We kept the pressure on, sweeping the other bulls into our little herd as we went.
After I’d loaded Pig in the trailer and headed for home, Rusty asked Mark, “Is there anything that girl’s afraid of? Nope, not much…if I can tackle it ahorseback.
Drives like this leave too much time for musing, tho. Pig’s aging, and I’m not sure I’d trust her for a task like that these days. Gentleman Jack, my new horse, got gored by a bull in similar circumstances under the man we bought him off of down in Texas. He’s healed now, but I’m not sure I’d trust his mind after such a trauma.
But that’s what long mountain rides are for. And brandings, and ropings.  It’s coming spring and there’ll be plenty of time to let Jack renter the world of work. As I will tomorrow, drafting funding proposals for the Madrone Project (anybody out there know someone who wants to sponsor the future of education?), penning op-eds for my editor to place to promote Climate Capitalism and conversations with lawyers.
So, as the lights of Longmont wink beneath the Indian Peaks of the Main Chain of the Rocky Mopuntains, our crew finished spinning windies, as we drove down the last miles, and I turned to this, content that it’ll be my own bed I crawl into tonight, and the only alarm will be Peetie’s purring. These are the real joys, good friends, a Colorado ranch to return to and the knowledge that the road’ll be there next week… and the work.
Follow Hunter Lovins on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hlovins

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