Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bone Lady That Lives Inside Me

Shortly after I moved into my farmhouse in Ansel, back in the spring of 1990, I realized my passion for bones might just have found a rather extensive playing field. Although I only owned five and a half acres, I was surrounded by pasture land, grazing for the cattle owned by my neighbors. These neighbors were over a mile away to the north and about three miles away to the south, but I could look out on any given day, for at least half the year, and see their cattle off in the distance. I told myself, 'Thar's bones in them thar hills."  At least I hoped so.

I had also been a big fan of Georgia O'Keeffe and all things Southwest, as I may have mentioned a time or two, and I was particularly enamored of her paintings that included bones, skulls and such. I don't view it as a ghoulish interest, just loved the shapes and I suppose the romantic insinuation of the west captured in them.

So, not too long after I'd moved in, I went on a bone expedition to see what I could turn up. It didn't yield the skulls I'd hoped for, but a few larger bones here and there. I hauled my booty home, bones that is, and placed them in my flower beds near the porch and main entrance. As I was hauling them, I realized that I may well become known as The Bone Lady as the years went by, and my semi-reclusive nature would not do much to alter that image. Not that I had too many folks who were paying attention. I just hoped any neighbor kids that might become aware of my presence wouldn't start tagging my house and then run like hell, crazy lady inside and all.

Inside my house were more bones: a small muskrat skull, a beaver skull a friend had painted a flower on, all very tacky and wonderful, a couple of jawbones, along with various and sundry small bones that had a look to them that appealed to me for reasons I can't call forth now. That's just the way it was. I liked bones.

Every time I looked out on those small rolling hills, I could well imagine buffalo roaming them many years before, and because I like to name things, I named my place Buffalo Woman Ridge.

When I started spending a part of each spring in the west, particularly the Southwest, I longed to find a buffalo skull to hang over my imagined entrance at the end of my driveway. I thought it would look kinda cool. I didn't expect to actually find one in the wild, but thought I might find someone else who had. I once stopped in Alamosa, Colorado, en route home, to check out some skulls at a roadside stop. They ran a bit over my allowed budget and so I never owned one.

The years went by and I eventually moved to the southwest, Santa Fe, to be exact.

One of my early daytrips there took me to an outlier of Salinas National Monument. It consists of old missions in three parts spread over several miles. It's south of Santa Fe, off the Turquoise Trail. It was at one of these that I wandered off in the cover of pinons to take a pee and hit pay dirt, so to speak. Right next to me were the sun-bleached skeletal remains of a cow or deer. Which one, I couldn't say for certain, but they were bones worth hauling back home with me, I knew that. The skull had already been parlayed into someone's home decor, either animal or human, so that was that, but what did remain was one very fine pelvis bone, very O'keeffe-ish, and it went home with me, along with several rib bones. There was a potter who showed at the gallery I worked at and she had recently started doing pots with bone handles, so I scored those for her. I left them in the trunk of my car and next time she stopped in we switched them over to hers. We were both happy.

The pelvis bone graced the entrance to my home for several years.

When I was planning to return to Minnesota, I took it down to my sister's home in Texas Hill Country and there it remains, gracing her garden entrance. It was a perfect fit.

My life here at Lonewolf is bone free as I write this. I don't have the unexplainable yearning I once had. I guess my love of live animals far outweighs my love of their bones. But, if I should come across one or two outstanding examples, or a skull shows up somewhere in my wanderings, I shan't pass them up. Somewhere deep inside me, The Bone Lady still lives.

All the images are of O'Keeffe paintings, of course.


  1. Bones are the infrastructure of life and vitality, today and in the past. You strike a chord for me.

  2. Hello Teresa, that second picture is "kinda cool", wonderful blue and yellowish white. I like Georgia O-Keefe. I knew her name but not her art-work. It's so good to learn something new.

    Your Winslow Homer "Girl with Hay Rake" is very beautiful.
    And the van Gogh of the Gypsy Caravan.
    Grethe `)

  3. I keep adding a few here and there. Mice chew on them a bit. I found some on the pacific Ocean that I assumed were sea lion and took them home.Even though they were bleached they were still ripe and smelled my room to high heavens. I returned them to the ocean.

  4. Paul, Nicely put. Glad for that shared "chord."

    Grethe, Lovely to hear from you, always. I am so enamored of that Winslow Homer painting; the light and the small bits of blue just do something for me. Love van Gogh, of course. I'm happy you like them, too.

    Steve, Perhaps the sea lent a special odor to those bones. Sea Lion would have been nice, though.

  5. I like the story as well. Thank you for the link and have linked back at my place. We have traveled some of the same roads.

  6. Very interesting Teresa...I was thinking more interms of Bones, as in the TV show, but you took me a slight different direction!

  7. I'm a bit of a bone lady myself. I especially love little bones.. I have a reliquary I made with the tiniest bird skull in it. Maybe I'm a bit over it too.. I've come home from the beach and I'm just thinking ..I brought no shells home.

  8. I love O'Keeffe!...and bones. I wrote about that awhile back. My Venus is in Capricorn... I have bones and skulls all over the place. My deck has deer and big horn sheep, and the yard has them scattered everywhere. My currrent fav is buffalo vertebra. I used to think I was the only one....

  9. The sea lion bones made me laugh and reminded me of my childhood; I dragged home some seashells which apparently were still occupied. My bedroom smelled horrendous and my mom was furious.
    I've been looking for shed deer antlers for years, haven't found any yet but still searching.

  10. Teresa, you will ALWAYS be a Bone Lady to me, after this post. I was enamored with you before this one, but now... I am a believer that we are kindred spirits. Not because I love bones like you do, but because I love Georgia like you do. That last picture sent chills down my spine.

  11. One Fly, Thanks! Love your sculpture photos! Roads Less Traveled no doubt. :)

    Tracy, I love Hugh Laurie, but this was a different love. :)

    Joan, I thought you might be a Bone Lady, too. I brought shells home from Maine and the Atlantic, but my days of collecting have dwindled.

    Lynn, Big horn sheep and buffalo vertebrae. Now we're talkin'! I remembered: I do have a couple of deer antlers around here, one on the cabin door! You are not alone... :)

    Li, Nothing like seashells to stink up the place :) All good hunting for those shed antlers. Reminds me of a Jack Handy quote I'll have to re-post sometime.

  12. DJan! How nice to hear from you. I trust all is improving day by day for you and your sister. I'm so grateful for your comments. Kindred spirits. Yes. Georgia and bones. A good combo.

  13. I always liked to keep the chicken 'wish' bone after Sunday dinner and let it dry to make a wish a few days later. I'm still tempted to do this but am afraid kitty would get at it! :)

    Happy Sunday Teresa!
    xo Catherine

  14. Hi Cat, That sweet Banjo? Can't be! I think I have a dried up wishbone around here some place, waiting for someone to help me make a wish, two person job and all.... LOL Happy Sunday, anyhow.

  15. I just caught up with your posts since you're back home. It sounds like your travels have done exactly what they should: given you great memories and a whole new perspective on the wonders of home. I've come across deer bones in the woods, but I never thought about picking them up (though I love Georgia O's paintings). Pretty sure my grandson shares your passion for bones, so we will be out scavenging this summer.

  16. Nancy, yes, they have done just that. I hope Augie finds some great bones. Sounds like a fun thing to share with him.

  17. I cannot imagine anyone not liking a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. Teresa, I'd like you to see this:

  18. Kate, I checked it out. Thank You. I Love her quotes.