A few small things
I love standing on the top of the hills around our house and scanning the horizon and the ribbon of road below me to see who might be coming or going — the sun, a neighbor, an oil field worker on his way home.
But often I feel like looking closer to see what’s happening underneath the grass, in the shady cool places of the ranch. All those small pieces that make up the mosaic of this landscape fascinate me.
In my other life, before the babies came, I would spend my evenings in my walking shoes, enjoying quiet moments out in our pastures. My favorite was when my husband would come along and we would wander together, slow and hushed along the deer trails, noticing how the dragonflies swoop and swerve, their delicate and transparent wings reflecting the sun.
Pushing a path alongside the beaver dam, the late summer cattails fuzz and the flowers hang on in the shade, staying cool and crisp as they reach for small glimmers of sun peeking through the trees. On the surface of the creek, the water bugs stay rowing and afloat by some combination of mechanics or magic above the school of minnows flashing their silver bellies in the hot sunlight.
I look at him; we look up at the birch tree branches. He looks at me and I tell him to watch for mushrooms growing on trees and chokecherries and the plums in the draw.
And we walk. Along that creek that runs between the two places and down to the neighbors’, through beaver dams and stock dams and ponds where the frogs croak wildly. We would clear a path through bullberry brush and dry clover up to our armpits, jumping over washouts and scrambling up eroded banks, noticing how some oak trees have fallen, hollowed out and heavy with the weight of their age, the weight of a world that keeps changing, no matter if a human eye ever sweeps past it or inspects it or theorizes about it, or tries to save it. It changes.
We’ve been married 12 years now, but I’ve loved this person since I was a just a kid. Three years ago on those quiet walks, we could only imagine a time in our lives where moments like these would have to be planned and adjusted to accommodate baby bedtimes, bathtimes and suppertime schedules.
That our life and our living room would be covered in noise and toys and new tiny moments we’ve created on our own that now hold their own mystery.
And I used to wish that this man and I would walk together in the coulees in these acres for a lifetime, with eyes wide to the small things that live and thrive and swim and crawl and grow outside our door.
And now, I hope that for us and for our own little creatures living and growing and crawling and thriving inside of these doors so that we might all move together in life like we moved through those trees — switching leads, pointing out beauty, asking questions, being silent, stepping forward, taking time and loving the moment … and one another in it.