I was out cleaning the ditches between the two places, doing my part in a community weekend designated to “Picking up the Patch.”
There has been a lot of traffic on that pink road stretching from highway to highway the last few months. Behind our house at night, over the hill and across from the grain bins men and women from all walks of life are traveling to and from that highway to do their part to get the oil out of the ground below this ranch and the ranches beside us.
It’s noisy work, that oil drilling. At night we can hear the creaks and groans of pipe being pulled out of the ground, the blow of a horn, the hum of the trucks driving by, and if the wind is right I might hear those men hollering to one another.
And this traffic leaves residue. Pieces of these men’s lives thrown from the windows of their pickups on purpose or blown from the backs of their pickups on accident. Everyone is going somewhere. To and from. Some care about this place.
Some days it’s exhausting.
Some days I don’t notice much.
This noise won’t last forever, but the landscape is forever changed.
And in the spring, it needs cleaning.
So I went out in it, leaving my husband at home building new steps into our house inside our new garage with the fancy new concrete floor.
We are building out here too. We’re noisy too. We’re making impacts, moving dirt and changing things that can’t be unchanged.
Some days we’re not so quiet ourselves.
Some days we need to remember to clean it all up too. So that’s what I did yesterday. I tried to beautify. I sorted my closets, gloves from neckerchiefs,
I hauled construction material out of my yard, I swept the dirt from the floors and I used my legs to walk those ditches and pick up cans, watching the trucks slow down as they passed a girl and a dog cleaning up after anonymous faces.
And I was feeling good under that blue sky. It was a warm day. Hardly any wind. I was thinking we could be fishing or riding. Those were my two top choices.
But there were things to be done. The earth is greening up and working on showing us her best side. I wanted to help her along.
So I was feeling good. And then I was feeling bad. Each bottle, each leftover cup from Taco Johns, every wrapper and Copenhagen can a slap of carelessness for this place. I wanted to put my hands on my hips and stomp my foot and scream, “Don’t you care?!”
But there was no one to scream at. They couldn’t hear me in the cabs of their pickups or behind the wheels of their big rigs. And they likely weren’t the culprits anyway. Most, like my husband at home building us new steps, are probably from here. Some might have places like this of their own. Some might have been out cleaning up their own section of ditches in the last few days. Most of them are doing good enough. Well enough. Just doing their jobs.
And screaming generally doesn’t help a thing.
But doing something about it does. So I filled the bags and step by step I felt a little better about it anyway. That I could at least clean up. That it was a nice day. That there were others out there doing the same thing.
And then I found the bluebell. A sweet, fragile little flower poking out brightly from the greening up grass, all hopeful and brave and beautiful like it knows something that I don’t.
Like thank you.
Like summer comes no matter what.
Like you should work hard like all of these people around you, and then you should look up and look down and look closely here. Slow down and look at me.