I might be lost. The Mead Ranch isn’t hard to miss. It is big, and wide open, with only a few buildings, but there are two different entrances a mile or so apart. But then I see the Mead’s ranch manager, Ollie, and he lets me know I’m in the right place, near where the Land Trust easement is. He looks straight out of a Tolkien novel, with a long flowing beard and weathered face that has seen many winters on this ranch. I think he has been here forever, before even the fur trappers and indians. Someday, I’d like to paint his portrait, but not today.
It is a summer morning in early August, and I am lucky to be painting this place. I am lucky there is not a shopping center here, or an oil rig. This ranch has been like this for many decades, raised many children, and now is preserved forever. It’s always an amazing feeling to think about “forever” when I am gazing out over a land trust property. My grandchildren will come back to some of the places I have painted, and our generations will be closer, our pride in this valley stronger, because of it.
I set up my small wooden easel, facing the weathered horse barns, as Ollie moves cattle through the maze of fencing around them. The barns are framed perfectly by the Tetons in the distance, a view that will last forever thanks to the Mead family and the work of the land trust.
– Travis Walker