Sunday, March 26, 2017

What to do with a Million Dollars

As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.

People often ask and then answer what would they do if they had a million bucks. Most would buy things like houses, cars or take trips to Paris. For myself though, what I would do was reminded to me again this past week when I picked up for 50 cents a bird guide in the junk store which is one memory I so want to live.

See it is not my memory but the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt on the high plains of what is now North Dakota and eastern Montana. TR was a most interesting man in being so high strung, and yet he could sit for hours watching wildlife. There were Mockingbirds at a friend's home sitting in a Magnolia tree past midnight as he sat in his room enjoying the chorus and studying the bird. There were deer off his porch on the Elkhorn Ranch, and there was this bird in the early morning summer dawn skies which circled overhead, producing the sweetest and clearest of notes.

TR called it a Missouri Skylark. The problem is there is no such bird, and I had to search for quite some time to figure out what he was watching as the most wonderful bird in song of the blue skies.

Out on the prairie there are several kinds of plains sparrows which sing very brightly, one of them hovering in the air all the time, like a bobolink. Sometimes in the early morning, when crossing the open, grassy plateaus, I have heard the prince of them all, the Missouri skylark. The skylark sings on the wing, soaring over head and mounting in spiral curves until it can hardly be seen, while its bright, tender strains never cease for a moment. I have sat on my horse and listened to one singing for a quarter of an hour at a time without stopping.

The bird was not from Missouri the state, but the Missouri River of Dakota Territory. It looks like the horned larks which are of the region, but in fact it was that Sprague fellow who put his name on every bird in what Teddy Roosevelt saw was later the Sprague's Pipit.

No the bird does not look like anything glamorous as it is quite American sparrow like in camo coverage to keep it safe on brown grass prairies in the fawn colors. It is unique in this is a summer North Dakota bird and a winter Texas bird, and it is so elegantly sedate in what it is.

I have an Auntie who lives in the Roosevelt Country and I once asked her about this bird. She looked at me dumber than a post in she had no idea what I was talking about. Such a national treasure and someone who grew up in ranch country had never paid attention to this bird.

For a million dollar donation or even 500,000 dollars I would get someone to check on the animals and Mom for however long it took, and then with TL in tow, we would rent some plugs in North Dakota, and be off with a video and audio devices in search of the Roosevelt Skylark. Yes does not Roosevelt Skylark sound so much prettier than Sprague's Pipit?

Sprague's Pipit -

The Sprague's Pipit is a small bird which breeds in the Great Plains ... Common names posted on May ... The Sprague's Pipit was named by Audubon for Isaac Sprague, ...


I really do not care that this gomer, Isaac Sprague, was up the Missouri with John James Audubon in 1843 having things named after him.  He did wonderful illustrations which Audubon plagiarized and all he got was the bird named after him, but that is his problem for not going alone or later being a Republican President. I have the same right to name things that this jasper from Massachusetts did, and I am going after Roosevelt's Skylark.

It will be wonderful. Horse riding, talking, eating sourdough bread, eating beef, eating apples and drinking liquids of sorts, sleeping on the leeward side of buttes and hills, arising early and looking for the Roosevelt Skylark for weeks.............yes I know what will happen, I will be chattering to TL and this bird will be singing wonderfully, and I will miss it all, and we will have to reenact the whole thing, by the second hour, and it will all be done as we ride back 50 feet to the ranch, but in editing it will look like we traversed all America in search of the Roosevelt Skylark.
Probably put it on least local and the local pin heads will watch it. I will be celebrity, wearing buckskin with fringe, safari hat and acting debonair as I sign autographs.

The last part I might pass on, but I always wanted to do things like that in looking at the country and seeing the things that Libby Custer did in her books, or Laura Wilder recorded or TR, as to be able to ride up a canyon that President Roosevelt did on a hunting trip or to a cow camp, would be just bully. It would bring a closeness and if spirits return to the earth, Teddy would be there delighting in my discovery of what he experienced so long

That is what I do not understand when people come into windfalls. They buy a double wide or some Buick, and it just sits there and rusts out and it stirs nothing in them. For me, I dream of hearing the Sprague's Pipit, seeing it soar in the dawn sky and ride along on a horse at the sunrise as the sounds of the world echo from trucks in the distance to ducks flapping on the pond.

This is what I would do with a million dollars.