Tonight, the window through which I viewed the world was Bart the dog walking me. We’d both been needing it for a while. I’d been under the weather with the respiratory stuff, either too busy, too cold, or too sickly to let him walk me in the past couple of weeks. So tonight felt good.
And then we saw the sunset. Started out with a blue the color of the sky blue crayon, and the clouds (no rain, but moisture) and a translucent peach the color of peach jello. I could hear the terrain underfoot—crunching buffalo grass, the slippery pine needles, the rasp of the sandy soil against paved parts of the alley. By the time we got down the alley to the hill across from the house, the blue of the sky had paled and the peach turned to crimson. As one color grew stronger, the other had to fade, yin and yang.
And then there was the fact that the temperature from the low this morning to the high late this afternoon was 39 degrees. Ah, Kansas. What did you see today that resonated with you?
When I woke up today and looked out my bedroom window, I was thinking about fathers. My sister-in-law just lost her father this week, and a friend learned her father is in the early stage of Alzheimer’s. It made me thankful for the wonderful times I had with my father, as I tagged along at his heel while he went about his work on the farm.
All those times we went traipsing through the pasture looking for a cow, I remember finding ripe persimmons, gooseberries and blackberries, but never a cow. I remember “driving” the pickup back from the pasture seated on his lap. And “driving” the tractor while he and my brother tossed hay bales onto the wagon. On trips to the sale barn to buy calves, I always sat on my hands to keep from making any move that could be considered a bid. When our purchases were done and paid for, we went to the auction barn café for a piece of pie. Dad never got a piece for himself, or a donut for that matter. He always said he’d just take a bite or two of mine, a bite that ended up being half of whatever we had ordered. I really didn’t mind, because we had such adventures.
Trips to the grain elevator in Hepler, where I watched the pickup load of wheat run like a golden river into the belly of the elevator. The smell of leather saddles, bridles and other gear at the feed store. How the smell of sweet feed almost made me wish I was a horse or cow—until I smelled the fried chicken or chocolate cake my mom was famous for. I remember helping Dad load the pickup with hay we’d bought, so proud when I got strong enough to stack it four high myself. The imagination I use as a writer developed when I stayed at the truck while Dad worked the different fields. That pickup bed became a ship, or a tree house, or a cabin in the woods, or a smoke spotter’s tower.
My brother was old enough to leave home for a full-time job about the time I was old enough to be a little help tagging along with dad. I doubt I was much help, but I’ll always treasure those times. I’m thankful to have had a father who was a dad. I hope that what I learned at his heel made me a better mom, a better writer and a better person.