Husband stopped the pickup yesterday as another spring snow storm came rolling over the horizon. He stopped along the road where the horses were working on an alfalfa bale that pops plopped down to keep them content through the last of this harsh weather.
We were on our way somewhere, to drop something off. To pick something up. But husband stopped in his tracks and while I sat waiting in the passenger seat watching the clouds turn a deep, menacing blue, without a word husband flung his door open and marched out in the wind and dropping temperatures.
He walked past the paint mare and the gelding we call Tucker, notorious for checking pockets for treats.
He breezed by the two sorrels and the buckskin my father rides.
He dodged the blind mule who never bothers to dodge a thing and slid his hand across the back of Stormy the trail horse without pause even for an ear scratch for the old brother. Because husband was on his way. He had his eye on something, the one living and breathing thing he has missed most during the gray days spent shoveling snow and plowing through the ice and slush and mist and repairing things in this old house while looking out the window to the snow covered buttes, waiting patiently for the meltdown…
And I sat there in the passenger seat, looking out the window at what appeared before me the most quiet and impulsive moment in the home stretch of the longest winter.
As husband reached his cold hand out to scratch the nose of his bay horse, to wrap his arms around his neck, to smell that sweet horse smell I found myself holding my breath.
I imagined them saying things like:
“Well hello. Yeah, well I’ve missed you buddy. Lookin’ good. You’ve wintered well.
We’ll get out there soon, friend. Just waiting on the thaw.
We’ll be out there soon.
Just waiting on the sun.”
It wasn’t a long moment, but after I released my breath and watched the wind blow through the bay’s mane and husband’s scruffy hair rustle as he pulled down his hat and headed back to the road and to life’s schedule, I felt like I should turn away.
It was like watching old friends reunite after months apart. Friends who have grown up together and trusted one another with plans and secrets and sadness and the most happiness and respect a body can offer, but there wasn’t time to grab a drink or take a walk or do what both of them wanted to do so badly and that was catch up.
Go back to the old days when the grass was green.
The meet-up on Saturday that occurred along the pink road that winds down through the coulees and up to the deep blue horizon was one my favorite moments since I have moved back here, very nearing a year ago now. Because it has been a rough winter. There has been a hard frost, some deep snow, days without power, things that need to be fixed and storms that have kept us from grocery stores and big events and far away friends. And I have been reminded of what we have given up to live out here surrounded by dirt roads without the conveniences of sidewalks, gas stations, fancy restaurants, gym memberships, dozens of latte flavors, late night shopping runs and constant plows and garbage service.
Oh, yes, I have missed those things at times when the winter nights came early and stretched on into the mornings. I have felt far away from my friends and isolated when the snow covered my windows and the morning called for shoveling and more snow and another day at home.
But as I watched that man, the one I have known since I was just a little girl, the one who walked with me down the halls of high school and somewhere along the line became my husband and unpacked all of my things and my heart on to this landscape, I didn’t wonder if we did the right thing. I didn’t see a man overwhelmed with the burdens of the weather and isolation. I didn’t see resentment or loneliness or a husband charged with making sacrifices for a wife he loves because this is what she wanted.
I have worried about this.
We have talked about this.
But no. As he stepped out of that vehicle on his own terms I saw hope and ambition and love and admiration, a little bit of crazy and all of the reasons that brought me back home.
I saw him in a quiet moment where he was his best self. He was the man he had envisioned.
And his heart was unpacked too.
Yes, when we live up here we give up some things. We let loose some perfection, deal with the messes, brush off the mud that enters your home on your boots, fix things that break with more broken things and lean in against the winter with the promise of spring.
These are the tests you must pass to survive.
So on Sunday the clouds rolled in and there was more to repair, more things to fix as the sky spit and looked like it would make good on the promise of more snow, a spring delay…
But on Saturday husband opened the door and reached out his hand to the life I chose. The life he chose. The life we have out here together.
And the clouds rolled on past as the storm blew over, the day’s repairs were accomplished and the sun shines today.
I married the right man.
The grass is green under that white and brown.
Things will break and be fixed again.
We’re in the right place.