Outside my window a mist has settled in heavy and has been busy soaking this thirsty landscape for days, turning the grass green. We're all breathing a sigh of relief before going back to holding our breath, because we needed the moisture but we're worried about calves being born in this weather. That's the way it is out here. Even when it tries its best, the weather never fully satisfies us. Inside this house, I'm pressing my nose to the glass. The wiggly baby in my arms does the same, her eyes transfixed on something she finds interesting out there in the big wide world.
Calving season is in full force here at the ranch, and this year it's extra special for my husband and I because part of the new herd we're building is our own.
I love guitars. I love the way they look sitting in the corner of a house. I love how they feel in my hands; the new ones shiny with promise of the music that is to come, the old ones worn from years of picking. I love how they transport me to a place so full of heart or loneliness, home or heartache. Places we all have in us.
We had a beautiful Easter weekend at the ranch. The family on both sides gathered to celebrate baby Edie's baptism. We all dressed in our Sunday best and even got out the door early enough to get the church pews of our choice. And despite my worries, the baby's chubby arms fit into her 100-year-old heirloom baptism gown and she only sorta cried in church, but only after the pastor tried to give her back to me, which really looked good in front of Jesus and the congregation. That's why we rehearsed it.
It was one of those little scenes that would play out in the movie version of your life, one that offers comic relief to a series of tense emotions, an argument or a confession: a pile of little kids stacked up on a battery-operated toy pickup, driving back and forth in front of the stage where I played with the band last Saturday, and one little boy, dressed in boots and a Wrangler butt pointed in our direction as he rolled by, bent over the side revealing to us a tiny full-moon.
Most Sundays we get together with Mom and Dad for dinner. After a week of work and crazy schedules, one of us decides that someone should cook a decent meal, pour some wine and make us all sit down. There's something special about being in a room with people whom you know the best in the world and still being able to learn something about them. After talking about work and weather, usually we pick out the good memories to tell and retell. Recently, Dad shared a story about his childhood that I'm sure I've heard dozens of times before. But it doesn't matter.
A new couch was delivered to our house yesterday. In almost 10 years of marriage, we've never had a new couch. In fact, the ratio of new to used furniture in this house prior to yesterday was like four to 20, the new pieces being Edie's nursery furniture, the worn-out recliner we bought the week after we were married on a trip to one of my concerts in South Dakota that we passed off as a honeymoon, and the bar stools that were a little too big for our space, but we couldn't pass up, because, you know, they were on super sale.
"How's everybody's baby doing?" That's what the mayor of my hometown asked me at a community meeting last week. Only in a small town would the mayor be so genuinely interested in the newest member of the community. He was about the 20th person to inquire about our little one that night. Business owners, classmates, old teachers, cops, waitresses, bankers and so on asked about her, because that's what it's like when you live in a small town. Your baby is everyone's baby.
Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip. That was last Saturday in a nutshell. Because the last of the 11 puppies were ready to be delivered to their new owners, and plans had been made to meet up in Minot, a good two-hour drive from the ranch. These days, a two-hour drive might as well be across the country when you factor in the preparation needed to get me and my 3-month-old out the door, buckled in and rolling down the road anywhere close to a promised timeline.
It's a great time to be a musician in North Dakota. This thought crossed my mind as I sat in the back of the Belle Mehus Auditorium in Bismarck last weekend, dressed up to celebrate the second annual North Dakota Music Awards. The awards ceremony is a concept put together last year by the owners of URL Radio, a local online radio station that often dedicates air time to hosting interviews and playing North Dakota music out of their offices in downtown Bismarck.