Unplug to recharge this summer

We just returned from five glorious days in the Black Hills of South Dakota (no Rocky Raccoon, though we did see bison, pronghorn, lots of deer, and a few prairie dogs in Custer State Park).

With our laptops at home, we didn’t check email, or Tweet, or blog. We barely used our mobile phones except to call home once or twice and to let our friends know we were coming.

Instead of being connected online, we spent the time reconnecting with the natural world in the warm embrace and good company of  dear friends, attending the wedding of our honorary niece Lilly and her new husband Jon, rocking out at their reception on beautiful Sylvan Lake and  bicycling the Mickelson Trail from Hill City to Custer and back again (where you get to ride by the Crazy Horse monument).

We beamed enjoying the talented Hannah’s performance as Laurey in Custer High School’s production of Oklahoma! (on video, we couldn’t be there in person), climbed to Little Devil’s Tower for the most glorious of views and played tourist in Deadwood at Mt. Moriah Cemetery and at Roughlock Falls.

We didn’t worry once about client projects (sorry! we do love you though) as we watched horses frolic (they did) in the meadow over breakfast, reveled over every newly discovered wildflower, and even spotted a bird for our life list (red naped sapsucker), though no golden eagle.

We shook our heads in dismay over the infestation of the forest by mountain pine beetles and learned all about forest and bug management from Lilly’s entomologist dad Bill and her park service step dad Duane.

While eating lunch admiring the view from Little Devil’s Tower, dear friend Marie taught us plant identification with this ditty: “Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have knobs from their knees to the ground.”  (I spared sharing identification techniques for finding excellent board members — anyone have a ditty for that?).

And we ate our first antelope burgers, from game killed and butchered by Duane. (Antelope is very lean… you need to add oil. I preferred the bison steaks we had at the wedding. No we are not vegetarians.  Our friends eat local, have game in their freezer, grow veggies in the summer in their small town plot, respect the life around them and can say they know where much of their food comes from. I think they’d make Michael Pollan proud.)

No amazing revelations about nonprofit capacity building or the future of the sector emerged on this trip. We were too busy helping decorate the reception hall, or reading a novel, or just watching that big beautiful sky unfold and dawn’s rays draw us out of bed.

What we did remember was the pleasure of great friends, extended families, remarkably unique places, and the good fortune to have such amazing bounty in our lives.

So take time this summer to unplug, take in a great view and some fresh air, relish good company, and follow a butterfly.

And have a lovely 4th of July weekend.


P.S. Happy 21st birthday to our wonderful sons, Sam and Alex. Another gift we treasure.

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