WATFORD CITY -- The window is open in this house tonight, letting the summer out and the cool autumn air in. It’s dark before 10 p.m. now and the crickets in the grass are louder than the frogs in the creek. On the ranch, we mark time by seasons a bit differently. Calving season. Branding season. Haying season. Roundup. Winter.
Dear daughters, While I type this, I'm sitting in the living room. Rosie, you're crawling around the floor, picking up things to put in your mouth and pulling yourself up to stand along the couch. Your big sister is sleeping, but your nap ended early like it usually does, and so the toys are all yours for now. I've been watching the two of you grow over the summer, not just into your selves, but into each other. Rosie, your first year of life is wrapping up quickly as you, Edie, look forward to celebrating your third birthday with a pink mermaid cake.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — The window is open in this house tonight, letting the summer out and the cool autumn air in. It's dark before 10 p.m. now and the crickets in the grass are louder than the frogs in the creek. On the ranch, we mark time by seasons a bit differently. Calving season. Branding season. Haying season. Roundup. Winter.
If you see my almost 3-year-old daughter bouncing around, following behind me at the grocery store or at an event, playing at the park or with toys in Gramma's store in town, she will likely ask you for your name. She's really into names. And who belongs to whom in this world. Like Great-Gramma Ginny is Gramma Beth's mommy, and Gramma Beth is Mommy's mommy, and Edie is Mommy's daughter, and it gets a little blurry to her about how the rest works.
"How old is that shirt you think?" I asked my husband as he came downstairs and scooped up both our babies to sit with him on his easy chair. "Well, you got it for me when I was 14 or 15, so, like, 20 years," he replied before he pointed out each hole and stain he and the shirt picked up along the way.
Last week, my dad was hauling our old feed pickup back from the shop on a flatbed trailer during oil field rush hour traffic, a little white-knuckled and stressed at the task. Tired from a full day of work, annoyed at fellow drivers and maybe running a worst-case scenario or two through his head, he glanced in his rearview mirror to find a white pickup bearing down on him, looking like it was going to run him clean over.
I love standing on the top of the hills around our house and scanning the horizon and the ribbon of road below me to see who might be coming or going — the sun, a neighbor, an oil field worker on his way home. But often I feel like looking closer to see what's happening underneath the grass, in the shady cool places of the ranch. All those small pieces that make up the mosaic of this landscape fascinate me.
My husband used to have a big yellow dog that would pull him around town on his Rollerblades. Young, strong and full of heart, the two of them flew through the quiet streets of our hometown, back when Rollerblades were cool and so was he. I never knew the Chad that existed before that dog. They called him Rebel, except the only rebellious thing about him was that he'd take a cracked door as an invitation to go wandering.
It was 175 degrees and 200 percent humidity. I knew because my hair told me soon as I sat up in bed. The higher the hair, the closer to God, and I got closer to God with each passing, sweltering hour. It was 175 degrees and 200 percent humidity, so I did what any good and reasonably sane mother would do: I loaded up the kids and went to the county fair in town. Because this was our only chance before they packed up the carnival and quilting projects, put the horses away, sold all the 4-H steers and took the show rabbits off of ice and back home to safety.
There are things I used to be. I used to be more careless. I used to be flexible. I used to be able to say "yes" loud and clear without worrying what "yes" would cost me. I used to be OK in a bikini, stretched out across the front lawn with a magazine and an endless afternoon in front of me. Because I used to be younger.