Some Notes on Wyoming

—My new alarm clock: a woodpecker who seems to be drilling a hole in the eaves directly above my bedroom. It’s loud, like shuddering plumbing. He begins work at six, kicks off at half past seven. I’ve tried to discuss his schedule, but he refuses to negotiate.

—Cows enjoy watching you as you walk by them, as if you’re the cow equivalent of television. Once you’ve been in a landscape this still for a while, though, you start to look at them the same way.

—Last week we visited a tack shop. The walls were covered with spurs, stirrups, bits, whips, and bridles; the floor of the shop was full of saddles. I said, “I can’t look at this stuff and not think it’s all B&D gear.” Then I felt bad, like a snot-nosed easterner, and hoped the saleslady hadn’t hear me.

—I rode one of the bikes up the hill by the polyhedron house to the sand pile the other day to see if I could get a signal on my mobile phone. I could not, at least not at the base of the pile, but I didn’t climb to the very top, because then I got scared of the cows.

—Walking on the main drag downtown, and also over at the Wal-Mart, we noticed a number of cowboys sporting Lincoln beards. My first thought was, how cool for this to be a trend! Then I wondered if it would catch on back east. Then I realized that these guys were most likely actually Mennonites.

—Cows lowing in the night sound like a mobile phone set on vibrate going off in your bag. (Or vice versa, depending on how you look at it.) When they’re giving birth during a midnight snowstorm, though, it sounds like something else entirely.

—Yesterday morning at around eight we heard the whistle of a train that sounded close enough to plow right through the kitchen, like something out of Chris Van Allsburg. But where are there tracks? Up by the silos? Or was it maybe an eighteen-wheeler with a customized train-whistle horn? Is that even possible? I ran to the porch, scanned the horizon: nothing but the usual Angus-peppered hills.