Yesterday Little Man hung out with me while I worked around the house. Here’s a fuzzy phone photo of him trying to lift Big Brown Dog.

Big Brown Dog is his favorite. Little Man likes to walk behind him so the dog’s tail whacks him in the face. He thinks this is funny and he laughs hysterically while saying “owie owie owie” and then I get confused, but as long as he’s laughing right?

It was a good day of trying to guess what the kid will eat, bundling him up in his snowsuit for a trip to feed the horses, unbundling him from his snowsuit, reading books, licking peanut butter off of bread, throwing the ball up the stairs, pulling on the pug’s ears, looking for his socks, laughing hysterically, watching Mickey Mouse, herding the dogs into each bedroom ten times, shutting the door on them and then letting them out again before eating macaroni and passing out on the couch.

And that was all before noon.

I can’t believe the little guy is already past two years old and knows what I’m talking about most of the time, even if he choses not to say much.

Because of all of the things that make this place a home I love—the oak groves and the sunrises and the horses and the open space and familiarity of it all–the biggest gift has been that we have our family here.

Ten years ago I would have never thought it possible. Ten years ago if you would have told me that my Big Little Sister and her little family would be living in a new house in our little home town, I would not have believed you. If you would have told me she’d be followed by Little Sister, now a young new teacher, I would have been certain you were lying. Mostly because I always thought little sister would be a lawyer, you know, with all those negotiating skills she’s been practicing since birth.

Anyway, Husband and I have always known that someday we wanted to build ourselves a home and life on the ranch, but that was as far as the plan stretched for a while having left a place alongside others who were leaving too.

If we were to make a life here, we would have had to make a pretty good life somewhere else first to help us get started.I thought our chances were pretty slim for making it work, especially in the beginning stages of our careers and life together.

Wedding Tree

But things have changed out here as the country knows and as I have explained. Each day this place changes. Each day it shifts and grows as new technology has us drilling frantically for the oil 10,000 feet below the surface.

And each day someone who left has decided to come home, to ranches, to farms, to the city streets they remember but maybe don’t recognize anymore.

Each day hundreds across the country call us, look us up, pack up their cars and head this way for a chance at making it their own.

I don’t blame them. It’s a good place to be, albeit, it’s a little hard to keep up with all the buzz. That little town I remember is stretching out across the prairie more and more every day, a bittersweet realization for those who like the familiar.

I admit, I am one of those. I know where my favorite oak tree grows and I want to protect it. I miss the old drive-in and the taste of the burgers there, the Chuckwagon on Main Street and the quiet safety of the pink road where I used to ride my bike, all things changed a bit in the face of a booming industry.

But you know what I don’t miss. I don’t miss my family. Because yesterday I got to hang out with Little Man and watch him train my dogs. Last weekend Little Sister showed up at the ranch in time to help us unload our pickup from a trip to the lumber yard and then we had drinks and ate leftovers and laughed hysterically as I made plans for where we would help her build her house across the coulee so she could be reached with a tin-can phone just like the old days.

Today I’ll visit Momma at her store to see if any of the pretty things we picked out in Vegas have arrived, this weekend I will babysit my nieces and tomorrow night I will play music with Pops and the men I’ve been playing music with since I was a little girl on Main Street of Boomtown to familiar faces and hopefully, a whole lot of new faces in town looking for work, a fresh start, a place to kick back, and maybe, a place to call home.

I think that’s what everyone’s looking for. I hang on to that in times I’m feeling overwhelmed by change that’s moving down our road sometimes and unprecedented speeds.

Because we made a decision years ago that home is here, although I don’t know if I ever had a choice they way the mud stuck to my boots and never let go.

And I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today, my family is holding to that same decision.

Today we’re all together out here, along these crazy roads and under this unpredictable sky making supper plans and helping each other build houses and checking in and stopping by and teaching Little Man important things like how to high-five and train the dogs and laughing and getting on each other’s nerves, drinking coffee and just living.

And for those out here working and thinking you would give anything to have yourfamily close by, I tell you, I don’t take this for granted.

Not for a moment.

6 thoughts on “Together.

  1. I am from Mandan, North Dakota but living in Minneapolis. I checked out your blog because you were from North Dakota. Now, I’m hooked – I read your blog because you show me sides of myself, you make me feel grateful and I love your humor. I still miss the big North Dakota sky and rolling plains shown in some of your beautiful photos (along with being a singer/songwriter you are a wonderful photographer!) but feel closer to home after reading news from the Veeder Ranch. Thank you!

  2. Your post brought these beautiful words to mind:
    “Let all those who go to you for safety be glad.
    Let them always sing with joy.
    Spread your cover over them and keep them safe.
    Then those who love you will be glad because of you.
    Lord, you bless those who do what is right.
    Like a shield, your loving care keeps them safe.”
    Psalm 5:11-12

  3. Jess, like you have been saying, family is everything. Having land and being a steward of the land offers the opportunity to bring all those good things together. Good luck on carving out your own little world for many years to come. Rich

  4. My mother was from Watford City and I was born in Bismarck. We moved to DE when I was 13 but I still miss ND. I know the area has changed a lot and I hope I can get out to see it sometime. Thank you for your reflections…

  5. That was really enjoyable, thanks so much for sharing. I came by way of ‘Hammer Like A Girl’ I can see, the whole darn family is talented. Heidi thought I’d grove on things here and she’s right! Handsome group you have there, looks like a wonderful place to spend life.

  6. Having the good sense to recognize you already enjoy what others are trekking towards … well that’s why I come back here again and again.

    One prairie girl to another,

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