Posts Tagged ‘Camas Prairie’

You’ve Got to be Kidding

May 16, 2012 11 comments

Yaks! (Photo credit: bdearth)

Yes, we are having a heat wave here in NW Montana. It hit 87° F. here today while we were out on photo safari. That’s rare for mid-May up here.

Today’s safari took us to places we don’t frequent often, to see what was available for the lens and the Muse. We visited The Garden of the Thousand Buddha’s down in Arlee before moving west. It’s a Buddhist temple area sitting on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Garden is coming along, though inclement weather isn’t doing it any favors in exposed areas around the central huge Buddha.

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Ra...

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Range in Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people suspect that we have bison ranches. In fact, we have the National Bison Range just southwest of the town of Charlo. Did you know that we have ranches running musk oxen and yak? Yep. We scouted out one such ranch down in the Camas Prairie area of Sanders County.

Along the way, we picnicked along the Flathead River and watched kayakers braving deep spring run-off waters. Osprey fished along those same turquoise waters, daring bald eagles to infringe on nesting territories.

Squirrels warned off those who came too close and pileated woodpeckers took their time with smaller trees a few yards from the car. Young quaking aspens waved at us, not having aged enough to rustle in the breeze. Smoke from a suspected new wild fire in the mountain range south of Highway 200 filled the valley with tension; not uncommon, merely early in the season.

Overall, it was a good day.

A bighorn ram following a juvenile ewe.

A bighorn ram following a juvenile ewe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hours of our journey didn’t allow for seeing deer or elk. It was too hot for the bighorn sheep to be down out of the hills. Everywhere people were taking advantage of the day’s warmth. Storms are forecast for the next several days.

You’re asking yourself, “What does this weather report have to do with anything?”

Honestly, it has little to do with writing or the state of today’s world. It isn’t an opinion or earthshattering news. It is a snippet of prospective background material.

Think about this. One of the basic tenets of good writing is that the background setting, activities, characters, etc. must be, at the very least, plausible. But, what happens when a writer uses facts that don’t fit “plausible”?

Montana is known for bison, eagles, osprey, bighorn sheep, and the rest. What about Yak or Musk Oxen? Oddly enough we have lots of exotics around here.

Title: Nunivak Musk Oxen in Defensive Formatio...

One rancher runs only Yak.

What for? Meat and textile material. The hair works up nearly as well as sheep’s wool and makes marvelous felt with fabulous insulation quality. The same can be said for Musk Oxen. These may not be the most attractive animals, but they have great value to the right people. According to one local, Yak meat is one of the most healthy, lean red meats available.

The question that arises is “What reader is going to believe a story set on a Yak ranch in cattle country, surrounded by mountains full of bighorn sheep, with a large river running through it, and situated on the Camas Prairie where herds of wild horses used to roam?”

And yet, all of that is true. The entire statement is fact, but few who’ve never been here would believe for one minute that anyone is raising Yak or Musk Oxen in the U.S. So, what’s the writer to do in order to use this material?

One thing I can think of off the top of my head is to write the story as a diary, a journal, from the main character’s perspective. It could be a romance, a mystery, adult or children’s, creative non-fiction, or poetry. The deciding factor is in how to approach the reader with reality and create the plausibility needed for it to be believed.

Ask yourself “What are the most implausible facts you’ve witnessed capable of creating a fabulous foundation for a rollicking good story”?

Now, share them here for all to see.

I’m  also proud to announce a special treat. Tomorrow I have a guest blogger here to entertain you all. Meena Rose Muro is a writer, poet, and business analyst, who will fill your time here with images and questions about your own take on the world. Be sure to stop by to see what she has for you.

You won’t regret it. You might even learn more about yourself in the process. She will answer questions and comments for those who take the time to pose them here.

I’ll see you all soon. A bientot,