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Kevin Holten

Holten: The secret to happiness

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Holten: The secret to happiness
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

I've discovered the secret to happiness. It's a creek. That's right, a creek that's full of fresh rainwater with some trees and buttes in the background and lush green grass on both sides that glistens when the sun rises and glows when the sun sets.


But what's best is that this creek narrows at a certain spot and trickles over rocks, murmuring those immeasurably peaceful sounds that might be God's greatest song, so cool to listen to, sit by, sleep by, wallow in and to let penetrate into your very being and feed your soul.

The rest of the water ripples a little and, once in a while, something comes to the surface and makes dinner out of a bug that's riding a wave like he's Joe Surfer in Huntington Beach, Calif. And even though it's a little dirty, it still reflects the colors of the sky during the day and shines with a myriad of gold and dark blue, brown and even aqua hues.

Am I going to tell you where it is? Absolutely not. Everyone must find their own creek.

This one's on private land anyway; a hidden oasis that you can ride your horse to, get off, drop the reigns and let them graze, because they're not going anywhere and why should they. Heck, even horses know the secret to happiness when they find it.

Plus, it's wide and angled perfectly enough at one curve that the sun almost sinks into it except for the butte in the background that cuts it off just before it touches the creek, but not it's rays that somehow bank off the sky, curve around and make the creek glow like a gold coin as the banks go black.

Believe it or not, we herded cattle down it last winter, on its back, just before Christmas, when it was frozen and topped with enough snow to give our shoeless horses some traction, driving those cattle straight to a crossing, by where the trickling sounds are, up a little hill and into the corrals, slicker than you know what.

As a matter of fact, it was the cattle that chose the route -- those crazy fools -- so I went with it and it couldn't have worked out better, proving once again that creeks are good for a lot of things.

But officially, according to those smart people who author dictionaries and encyclopedias, creeks aren't a river, just a baby stream. They're often shallow and flow into larger bodies of water, bolstering the streams like a farm team does a Major League Baseball team or a supply ship does a Navy aircraft carrier.

Then again, few people will argue with the fact that a creek is smaller than a river but not everyone agrees with what makes a creek a creek. For me, if you're a river, you should never go dry. If you're a creek, you can go dry every so often and it's OK. Kind of like going on vacation to Yellowstone when you're a rancher or farmer, even though there's some hay waiting to be cut.

Therefore, some creeks stay full of water all year long, while others go dry. Some creeks have freshwater while others are filled with saltwater. But, no matter what, creeks are on Mother Nature's payroll and it's their job to help circulate the planet's water and provide a home for some cute and not so cute creatures like fish, salamanders, birds, bugs, water striders and dragonflies that eat mosquitoes better than those ugly bats.

But what creeks are really all about is love.

Fathers and sons fish there. Kids swim there. Boys and girls meet there. Lovers picnic there. Marriage is proposed there. God talks to you there. And happiness is found there because you can think of nothing else that you need, when you're there.

Holten is the manager of The Drill, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at