Bad days. Good days. Out here on the ranch, for some reason, I like to define them. And there are about a million criteria for the qualifications of both, which, I guess, is a good thing and a bad thing, respectively. And of course I like to say a bad day out here is better than a good day almost any place else in the world.
I spent last week in vacation mode, which to some might bring to mind palm trees and tropical drinks by the pool, but to me it meant packing up for...
Last week I went on a walk to close some gates in our home pasture and check a couple juneberry patches. Juneberries are a special treat around here. Like wild mini-blueberries, if they show up, they show up around this time to much fanfare for those of us who know people who make pies.
When I lived between the sidewalks of town, one of my favorite things to do was go out for a walk in the evening as the sun was going down on the neighborhood. It didn't matter what time of year—the crisp, still air of winter or the thick heat of the summer—I liked to follow the path of the sidewalks that stretched past the neat rows of houses, the warm glow of the kitchen lights shining brighter than the setting sun outside, projecting a slice of each family's life out onto the street.
Lord, it's good to be humble. It's a lesson I've implemented in my daily life since discovering, at a young age, just as soon as I think things are moving along swimmingly is about the exact time I fall on my face. And so I learned to keep it mellow most of the time, trying not to get too worked up one way or the other. Unless it comes to mini golf. Or bowling. Or board games ... you know, all the things that matter most in life.
It's hard to think of anything else these days but what's in the news. It's tragedy and politics all wrapped into a messy ball of emotions and fierce beliefs as we try to predict and manipulate our future. It can be as paralyzing as it is polarizing. I used to think it was pretty easy to feel isolated out here surrounded by cattle and oak trees. But that's when my world stretched only as far as my bicycle tires or the distance my parents would drive me.
The white noise of conversation and laughter filled the bar like the scent of the burgers frying on the grill in the back. The three of us stepped inside from the sunny early evening, our eyes adjusting to the dim light, scanning the room for an open table to grab a drink and a bite to eat. We were sort of on a schedule in Medora, N.D., that evening. Dad and I were there to perform at the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering down the street, and it seemed that everyone in town for the event had the same idea about where to eat.
This morning a big yellow screwdriver sits next to a half-eaten pan of cinnamon rolls (the kind out of the freezer section, not out of my KitchenAid mixer) and that sits next to a couple baby books about farm life that feature a perfect red barn against green rolling hills dotted with smiling black and white cows. And all of it lies among a good pile of crumbs.
This morning the gobble of wild turkeys woke me up from the outside the open window in my bedroom. Everything has officially woken up around here. We're in the short, wonderful wedge of time we get before the heat rolls in and spring officially turns to summer, accelerating the growth of the thistle in the coulees and the population of mosquitoes and frogs. The cows are milling by the dam and grazing on the short, neon green grass that's growing just on the edge of my fenced-in yard, sending the dogs into a routine of nervous little ticks.
In an old small theater in a small western North Dakota town, a retired professional bull rider stood up on the stage behind his guitar, next to his band, and strummed the first few notes that kicked off the culmination of an idea that had been in the works for months. The lights were flashing, the sound was big, and the recently reupholstered seats were filled with a crowd of people who made plans to attend a party in the name of turning a Saturday night into something bigger.