My phone dinged with a message containing a photo of my daughter in her life jacket and sunhat sitting on the banks of the Little Muddy River looking up at her daddy looking down at her in his Superman shirt.
I rushed to get the slushburger in the crockpot, the chip dip layered, and the watermelon cut and mixed with the cantaloupe from the fridge. It was 7:30 a.m., and one of our friends was already sitting at the counter with a cup of coffee, boots and hat waiting in the entry. He's more of a cattle expert, but it turns out he had some tips on cantaloupe slicing before heading out the door with my husband to gather gear and saddle horses.
We said we would take a honeymoon later. I was on the verge of turning 23, out of college a couple years and on the road with my music. He was on the verge of 24 and climbing oil dereks, seven days on, seven days off and more if he could. We were on a mission, on a roll, in love but on our own schedules. We'd go when we had a bit more money. We'd go in the winter when we craved the heat. We'd go before the first baby. We'd go. We promised we'd go.
So, I'm a klutz. Accident prone. A magnet for small disasters. A target for falling things. This is my confession and a quality that's so much a part of me I often use it when introducing myself to large groups:
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.