The recipe for time.

The best part of summer is the back of a horse on top of a hill when the sun is slowly sinking down below the horizon leaving a gold sort of sparkle in its wake. And the cows are in their place, grazing in the pasture with the big dam and the tall grass that tickles their belly.

And that guy you love is finished arguing with you about how to get them there, so you can relax now and just love each other and take the long way home to notice how the coneflowers are out in full bloom and the frogs are croaking like they’re trying to tell us something urgent. Something like, “Hey, stop worrying about trivial things. Stop working so hard to make more money to buy more stuff. Stop moving so fast.  This is it right here guys. This is the stuff.”

Who knew frogs had such insight.

Around this ranch moving cattle is a sort of therapeutic chore. With everyone working a day job, taking care of the cattle is a priority that gets us home in the evening and out of the confines of the office, the checklists, the phone calls and the stress of the highway miles full of big oil trucks we pass by with white knuckles to get back home.

If our office could be the back of a horse all day, I think it’d be better for our blood pressure.

Maybe someday it will. Maybe not.

This is my third summer back at the ranch and every day I’m gaining more insight into what it takes to keep a place like this up and running. I’m beginning to understand that there are things in my life I need to weed out to make space for the time I want and need to spend out here on the back of a horse.

It’s funny coming from a woman who, three summers ago, started writing again because she had more time on her hands.

Because she didn’t know how to sit still.

Because she needed to work through what coming home for good means.

You’d think I’d have it figured out by now, but I’m not sure I’m there yet. For months our minds have been set on the bricks and mortar that hold us and all of the stuff we’ve picked up along the way.

That’s the step we are standing on.

But every day I look out the window, step outside to feed the dogs or pull at a weed or get in the pickup to move down the highway and I’m so overwhelmingly grateful that the summer came as promised.

And then I get a little lonesome.


And I haven’t figured it out quite yet, but I have a theory.

I have responsibilities. I have burdens I’ve placed on myself to move forward, to achieve goals. I have deadlines I’ve committed to and jobs to complete, people who have questions and dates marked on my calendar to leave.

And when I’m leaving I want to stay. When I stay I think I’m missing a chance.

What chance? I don’t know. Aren’t I where I want to be?

But I’m not eleven anymore. No one is buying my milk so I can play outside all day.

All I want to do is play outside all day.

All I want to do is sing.

All I want to do is write.

All I want to do is take photographs.

All I want to do is ride.

All I want to do is drink cocktails and sit on the deck that we need to build and catch up with my friends and family and take in the sunset.

All I want to do is everything.

Is this a battle we all fight, the battle of balance? I feel I’ve been fighting it my entire adult life, with a list of so many things I want to be, so many places I want to see, and only one body, one life to achieve it.

No frogs, I don’t want stuff. I want more time.

More time to sit for a bit on the back of a horse and watch the sun go down on a place I love with a man I love and watch the cows graze.

But no one is selling time, turns out it is homemade.

I just need to find the right recipe.

16 thoughts on “The recipe for time.

  1. The cone flowers are blooming in my pasture too. Thanks for calling my attention to the beauty right in front of me. Time– love the Ray Bradbury short story ” the Time Machine”.

  2. Unfortunately Jess time waits for no one….All we can do is make the most out of the time we are given…and make each day a great one!! Thanks for sharing…Rich

  3. Jessie, I get this! I can relate to a lot of what you wrote about today. Tomorrow I head back to the raking tractor, this post is subject to food for thought.

    I love your pictures. The North Dakota prairie is gorgeous.

  4. Beautiful imagery — love your pics and philosophy. Turns out we’re here for just such a short while — we have choices always before us. I like what you’ve chosen — to live, incorporating the ranch and the flowers, and the cattle and horses. To write. And to share it with those you don’t even know!

    “Is this a battle we all fight, the battle of balance? I feel I’ve been fighting it my entire adult life, with a list of so many things I want to be, so many places I want to see, and only one body, one life to achieve it.”

    I share your battle. I think we all do. Somehow it helps to express it. Thanks for putting it so precisely.

  5. Reminds me of the following words from Jesus:

    “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

    “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the unbelievers eagerly seek all these things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

    Matthew 6:24-34 NASB

  6. Thanks for conveying exactly how I was feeling this past weekend! All I wanted to do was everything – and I had everything right in front of me – yet, I didn’t see it.

    “And when I’m leaving I want to stay. When I stay I think I’m missing a chance.

    What chance? I don’t know. Aren’t I where I want to be?”

    Love it!

  7. Love this! I grew up in ND near you and remember the same experiences. What great memories! Thanks for sharing with us!

  8. Jessie, What you’re looking for is what I’ve been looking for all my adult life, too. I retired in 2004 (just a tad early) and thought I’d be able to fit in everything. Didn’t happen. Then my husband retired three years ago and now all we do is go, go, go and never get anywhere! I need to buy some time… we have the money now, but who sells it? I keep asking God to give me more time each day and he ignores me so I guess it’s up to me to find. I need the right recipe, too. It’s hard because when I should be doing something on my bucket list I find myself watching the fat robin in my front yard, or the squirrels in the back by the creek, or the kids playing next door. At this rate my buckets gonna be kicked and I won’t be very far down the list. I read your writings all the time and love them. You are so blessed to be home again with the man and family you love. Let’s both try to make the most time to be with ours and just love them. To heck with my bucket list… it’ll be around as long as I am. Thanks for making my days, Bonnie Kraus Bottineau

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