“And the seasons they go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time.” – Joni Mitchell.
The first snowfall in Pinedale is always special. The floating white flakes dance down to the trees and below in seemingly slow motion. When it sadly stops, just put us in a glass globe and give it a shake.
We’re happy that it’s warm enough to snow. And it reminds us that we are, indeed, in such a beautiful place.
The last season of the year is truly spectacular, just like the previous three. The Wyoming sky, my favorite, seems especially clear and vibrant. Technically winter is weeks away, but we can all feel when it begins here at 7,000 feet.
In a way it can be sad, especially for those of us who are in the autumn of our lives. Another year will soon be gone, except of course for the memories.
But here’s what I hate about getting old: Everything! I can’t sleep that much but when I do the first sound of the morning isn’t the birds chirping; it’s my arms and legs creaking like dried-out branches.
My vision, hearing and memory are failing. Where was I? Oh yeah, getting old. My body aches from head to toe and even my mustache hurts. And I haven’t had one in 10 years.
I walk around hunched over like Fred Sanford, now dating myself with a reference to the great comedian of decades ago, and I can’t even eat a steaming hot dog or drink a cold beer without having a Tums handy.
Instead of riding a bicycle I now try to dodge them. “Hey pops, outta the way,” a young lad yelled to me the other day over by the skate park. I bent over to pick up a rock but pulled a hamstring instead.
Seriously, the worst part of getting old is the friends you lose. I have been fortunate enough to live in many places around our great country as a professional journalist. But the more friends you have, the more you will say goodbye to.
This past year or so was a tough one in Pinedale for me and many of us. Wade, Chuck, Jonesy and Kyle died. All too soon.
Wade was a funny guy and a hard worker. He liked to take us fishing on his boat and worked in the extremely difficult heating and air-conditioning business, especially in Sublette County.
We had a lot of laughs together, even when it was pointed at each other. His sudden death shocked and saddened us so much.
Wade was born and raised in the West, and we miss him every day in Pinedale.
Chuck was one of my best friends ever. He was also funny and kind…and a big Cubs fan.
We went to my hometown of Chicago to see two games at Wrigley Field several years ago. He looked over at me from our seats in the bleachers and said “Mike, I think I’m in heaven.”
Well, he sure is up there now after his heart of gold stopped beating and ours broke into a thousand pieces. His smile always lit up the room. He was also a hard worker, an excellent meat-cutter and softball player. I can’t believe he is gone.
“Jonesy,” Mike Jones, was another guy who loved to laugh. He was another hard worker, an electrician who often worked outside in the winter here.
He enjoyed playing the jukebox and talking about music. He would dance like Michael Jackson and crack us up. Mike was very generous and a good fisherman, originally from Utah.
I miss seeing and talking with Jonesy.
Kyle was a gentle soul in every way. I never saw him angry.
He knew he was dying of lung cancer but still worked hard until his last few days, stocking shelves and making customers smile at the Dollar Store.
One year I was alone on my birthday until Kyle lit up my afternoon with his conversation and kindness.
All four of my friends were different but the same, just like the rest of us. They were good people.
And something important that I have learned in my 67-plus years is this: You don’t have to be great. Good is good enough.
In fact, it’s great to be good. To yourself and to those around you, the everyday folks whose lives you touch. Just like Wade, Chuck, Jonesy and Kyle.
Winter is near here in Pinedale. Hold each other tight.
Mike Fitzgerald is a freelance writer who lives in Pinedale. He can be reached at [email protected]