Meikle, Lyndel

Lyndel was born in Helena, "in the first half of the last century," as she tells the high school students to whom she teaches basic blacksmithing at  Powell County High School.  She finds it's worth the price of divulging her antiquity as she watches the students work this out, their eyes widening in alarm. Charmingly, they then offer to lift heavy coal sacks for her until the horror faces and all returns to normal. 

Her Mother was born in California and her father in Ohio. After WWII they came to Montana to work a lead and silver mine six miles out of Elliston, west of Helena. It met with the usual success of such ventures, and they moved to California, dragging their protesting youngster with them.

Over the years, Lyndel had three main ambitions: to be a cowgirl, a ranger, and go back to Montana. The circuitous path she followed to achieve all three of those goals is described in this book. But as she explains, it really is the story of "hands, hooves, claws, and paws." Her teachers ranged from several ants and caterpillars to university professors, curious children, and liars.

Her career took her from Vietnam in 1967 to Yosemite National Park, Fort Point, Alcatraz in San Francisco, and finally Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana. Along the way she discovered that a job could have many dimensions, and there was always something new to learn–and to challenge.