Morning at Chimney Rock

Ernie and me beside our tent.

Prairie Journey Travel Blog

Next morning. We rise at 6:30 am, climb out of our tent, rub the sleepy out of our eyes and stretch our arms up to the sky to welcome the morning. It smells fresh with sage. Coffee’s brewing in the old black kettle and young breezes drift cool across our cheeks. We look and see the sun rising half-way up and Chimney, too, still here.

Remembering last night. We hunkered down by the fire, talking, talking, about how they called her Tall Lady, called her that in the late of the night, the pioneers did. Chimney stood before us, her full skirt adorning a slender torso. We were her court-in-waiting, and she our queen.

Our fire flickered shadows, gray as ghosts, then burst into the glow of long-ago lanterns, everything becoming eerie, mystical, and Chimney transforming into a night beauty, right before our eyes.

I thought then how much I like the name, Tall Lady. Surely, as the pioneers gazed out at her in the moon-slivered nights, that name came to them. It fits.

We sat silent then and listened to cicada sounds. They spread out over the prairie evening, like a song, and coyote pups were yipping and howling. We got all sleepy-eyed then, put ourselves to bed, and slept deeply.

It must have been something about the cicadas, the coyotes, and Chimney beside us. Thinking about our ancestors, how they lay here 150 years or so ago, on this same hard ground, and I got all quiet inside. I dreamed something beautiful, even though I can’t quite remember what. But I must have, because I woke up, and a poem was coming to me, coming slow as the night winds, but steady and clear.

Here’s the poem I wrote this morning. It’s the beginnings of the one that my character, Savannah, wrote when she was at Chimney.

Chimney sits
big as sky
shining in the sun


buffalo grazing
wagons ho
but gone now


rising from the earth
like fresh-baked bread
making for a pretty morning.


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