Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A Photographic Essay of the Tetons

by Andrea Downing

     Three or four months of the year, I’m lucky enough to get out to my home in Wyoming, where I am happiest.  It is just 5 miles down the road from Grand Teton National Park and about an hour from the entrance to Yellowstone, depending on the pesky tourist numbers.  I try to be out when the least people are about—April/May and late September through early November.  I haven’t yet spent a winter out here, being something of a coward, but it is on the cards.  For now, I thought I’d share a few photos to show why I love this place so much.


The famous arches of Jackson town square

 The famous arches of Jackson town square


                     The Moulton Barn, apparently most photographed barn in USA
                                              Old Faithful at Yellowstone
Chapel of the Transfiguration at Grand Teton

                                                                    the Aspens in leaf

                                                       Bison grazing at Yellowstone
                A bear at Lupine Meadows, Grand Teton--keeping my distance!

                                Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

                     Mount Moran behind a still-frozen Jenny Lake


                                                            Lewis Falls

and finally

the entrance to the Cunningham Cabin, an early homestead in Grand Teton NP

    The Cunningham Cabin proved to be the inspiration for my novella, Dearest Darling, part of the Wild Rose Press ‘Love Letters’ series and my one crack at a mail order bride story.  It won The Golden Quill for Best Novella, as well as several categories at The Maple Leaf Awards, and placed in both the International Digital Awards and The Chanticleer Awards.  

Here’s the blurb:


Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?


Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.

But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.




Emily liked the sound of his voice, low but not husky, a slight twang he had cultivated, but not pretentiously so. When he spoke, she envisaged melting caramel, something delicious, the way it could be so appealing as she stirred, with a shine and slow drip from the spoon, before it gradually solidified. Soothing. A liquid velvet.

But he hadn’t spoken today. Not since first thing when he’d told her to get ready. Not through breakfast, or as he helped clear dishes, or gave her a hand up into the wagon.

“You haven’t seen her. You didn’t see her picture, did you?” The questions came sudden, yet without malice.

Emily straightened, alert. “No. No, I didn’t.” Would I understand better? Is that what he meant?

“I keep it with me.” Daniel began to fish in his pocket. “Would you like to see it?”

“No. No, you keep it, please. It won’t change anything.” Emily panicked. She would be beautiful, the other, that would be the answer. So stunningly beautiful that just her photograph had enthralled him, mesmerized him into loving her. Emily couldn’t bear to look, didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t wish to torture herself further. “And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for reading the letters.” A rush of words, they flowed out of her. “I should never have done that. It’s not like me. But you...well, you understand it seems—”

“You’re probably wondering what I see in her. Or what she sees in me. As for that, what she sees in me, I have no idea. Maybe, like you, she wishes to get away.”

Emily studied his profile, the planes and contours of his face, the eyes set straight ahead, the slouch hat low on his brow. He gave nothing away, was a man in control of his emotions, thinking, maybe still wondering how he had won that woman. Or maybe set on keeping the answer to himself.

Overhead, clouds scudded, scoured the sky, leached the blue, threatened.

“Did you ever ask her? Why you?”

“I did. She never answered. I’m thinking what she sees in me is husband material. I guess. She tells me about her day, the people she knows, what she does. As you read.”

“She just seems outgoing, very social to ever want this life. I found it difficult to believe.” She jutted her chin out, then turned to him, waiting.

He gave the reins a sharp shake. “I don’t know. I never asked if she knew what she was getting into. I described it. I assumed if she wanted to stop the correspondence there, she would have. I was pretty damn amazed and happy she’d wanted to come, written back even though I described the cabin to her, the isolation.” His gaze slid toward her.

“And you think she’ll make you a perfect wife, do you? Be happy living here? Cook your meals, mend your clothes, keep your cabin, have your babies?” Exasperated, she tried to make him think, think of what he was letting himself in for, how long a marriage like that could go on, how it could end up being even lonelier than he was now. Emily would seem to him to be trying to win him over rather than making him see the truth, but push him she must, save him, stop him. She knew those sorts of women, the debutantes, the socialites. Not a one would last out here, not for a single day.

His head snapped around to stare at her. “She’s been writing. She hasn’t stopped.”


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Julie Lence said...

Wyoming is such a pretty state. I have to get back there one day. Thanks for sharing Andrea!

Andrea Downing said...

You're very welcome Julie. I don't want to increase our tourism as it's already at tsunami level, but it's difficult not to share such beauty.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Seeing these photos is a tonic! You take the best pictures. Loved the excerpt! I'm glad you're back in your happy place.

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Patti! and now I'm off to the Mangy Moose for drinks with a friend...

Elizabeth Clements said...

I've never been to Wyoming but would love to enjoy all that beautiful scenery I've seen in movies. You are so blessed to be able to go home several times a year. Love your pictures and your excerpt.

Andrea Downing said...

Having just come in from a walk, Elizabeth, I have to say I really do feel lucky. I was discussing with a friend here last night how neither of us could live without the Tetons now. Glad you liked the excerpt.