When I grow up I want to be the kind of woman who lets her hair grow long and wild and silver. When I’m grown I hope I remember to keep my flannel shirts draped over chairs, hanging in the entryway and sitting on the seat of the pickup where they are ready and waiting for me to pull them on and take off somewhere, the scent of horse hair on the well-worn sleeve.
When I grow up I want to remember every spring with the smell of the first buds blooming on the wild plum trees what this season means to me. When I grow up I pray I don’t forget to follow that smell down into the draws where the air falls cooler the closer you get to the creek, where the wind is calm.
When I grow up I hope I don’t find I have become offended by a bit of mud tracked from my boots onto the kitchen floor. I hope I keep the windows open on the best summer evenings with no regard for the air conditioning or the dust…because a woman can only be so concerned with messes that can be cleaned another day, especially when she needs to get the crocuses in some water.
When I am older and my memory is filled to the brim, I hope that the smell of damp hay will still remind me of feeding cows with my father on the first warm day of spring when the sun had warmed the snow enough to cause small rivers to run on our once frozen trail. I hope it reminds me how alive I felt wading in that stream while my dad rolled out the bale and I tested the limits of the rubber on my boots.
And when my hair turns silver I hope I remember that my favorite colors are the colors of the seasons changing from brown to white to green to gold and back again. I pray I never curse the rain, that I don’t forget the rain is my favorite color of them all.
Yes, when I am an old woman and my knees don’t bend the way they need to bend to get me on the back of a horse, I hope I am still able to bury my face in her mane, to run my hands across her back and lean on her body while I remember the way my spirits lifted as she carried me and my worries away to the hilltops.
I hope I recall how the first ride of spring made my legs stiff, my back creak and my backside sore, even as a young woman with muscles and tall boots.
Yes, boots! When I am an old woman I hope I will wear my red wedding boots every once in a while and recall how I stood alone in them out in the cow pasture at 22-years-old waiting for the horse-drawn wagon to come over the hill and take me to the oak tree where my friends and family gathered and the man I loved was waiting to marry me.
My red boots will remind me, so in all of the shuffle and lost things that become our lives, I hope I remember to save them.
And as I watch the lines form on my husband’s face, little wrinkles around his eyes from work and worry and laughter, I hope I remember to say something funny, to tease him a bit, so I might be reminded again how he got the most important ones…the ones that run the deepest.
Yes, when I am old and my hair is silver and long and wild, I hope I feel it was all worth it.
But more than anything I hope that those things that made me– the dirt under my fingernails; mud on my boots; a good man’s laughter; the strong back of a horse; the rain that falls on the north buttes and the scent of summer rolled up in a hay bale at the end of a long winter–I hope they remain here on this place so that another spirit living along this pink road might one day find herself in flannel shirts and wild plum blossoms.