In all the years my husband and I have spent growing up together, there’s one quality we continue to share and that’s our affinity for last-minute, spontaneous plans. Especially if those plans mean blowing off yard work and fencing projects in favor of spending an 80-degree day at the sale barn watching horses come through the ring while we try to convince ourselves of all the reasons not to bid. I’ve always loved the sale barn.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — In my life, there haven't been many times someone's told me that I look like my mother. I'm thinking about that now as I look at my head bobbing, harmonica playing, blonde haired, blue-eyed daughter and think, well, she doesn't look like she belongs to me. Yesterday I watched her balance her baby doll on her shoulder while typing on her pretend computer and it was a reminder of how quickly they start to learn from us.
One of the best parts about sharing stories every week is that sometimes it compels others to share their stories, too, reminding me how closely strangers can be connected. For the past few months I've been traveling on behalf of my new book, telling stories about crocus picking, old pickup driving and growing up on the back of my old mare.
“Oh, by the way,” he said as he pulled on his pajamas pants and emerged from the closet. “There was a bat in the bedroom while you were gone.” I sat straight up in bed, groaned a long “Noooo!” and clamped my hands to my mouth as I flashed back to the days of living in the old farmhouse and the traumatizing experience of discovering a really (like really) large family of bats hibernating in the space between the door and the screen we never used.
There's a long hallway in a hospital, connecting two parts of the building with plain beige carpet and tall windows that let the light in from the street. All day, every day, nurses, doctors and employees rolling carts of covered chicken and Jello to be delivered to patients who may not want to eat but have to eat, walk these hallways as part of their routine, wearing their shoes and the carpet a little thinner with each step.
The first year my husband and I got married, we lived in the little house in the barnyard where my dad was raised, unloading all the earthly possessions a pair of 23-year-olds can acquire in the short and broke spans of our adult lives — hand-me-down lamps and quesadilla makers. By the time we emptied our car and unwrapped our presents there was barely any room left for walking. And so I did what any responsible 20-something newlywed with an uncertain future would do: I got my husband a puppy for his 24th birthday.
The first calf of the year was born on the Veeder Ranch last week. That afternoon I went out on a walk to clear my head and to climb to the top of a hill to see if there were any mommas off alone on a hillside or in the trees, a pretty sure sign of some birth action. But I didn't see a thing. So then, because it's been warm lately, I decided to scope out the hilltops for the first crocuses, confident that I knew just where to look because years of early spring crocus hunts on this place have taught me such useful things. But I struck out again.
I have a confession to make. In the years I spent growing up out here on the ranch as well as those being all grown up here on the ranch, I have never properly learned to drive a stick shift. Oh, I can make it work. I can get from Point A to Point B if Point A is the house and Point B is the barnyard over the hill, the hay yard, or my parent's house a mile down the gravel road, but that's where my gear-finding, clutch-pushing confidence ends.
"One. Two. Threeee!!!" She yelled before she launched herself from the top of one big round hay bale and over the mud-filled gap to the next, landing safely on her knees before scrambling up to her feet to continue her race down the rest of the row of hay. I stood holding Edie on my hip, both of us laughing as we watched her three cousins run and leap, making an obstacle course out of the hay yard, their blonde hair escaping from ponytails and flying up toward the blue sky in the wind.
I unloaded my daughter and her backpack, and we left the car with the mechanic and sat down on the chairs in the lobby. It smelled like a combination of tire rubber and grease. The sun had warmed the snow enough to make it stick to the rubber soles of the muck boots everyone wears around here, leaving squeaky, muddy footprints to and from the door that dings when it opens...