It’s fall. Shipping season.
The leaves have stripped from their branches, the horses are hairing up against the cold, the grass is golden and the cows and calves look like black dots on the hillsides.
We’re getting ready to gather.
We’re fixing up corrals and fences, hauling hay off the fields, calling in the uncles and putting on our chaps and silk scarves and wool caps, gearing up like those horses for a season as unpredictable as it is predictable.
On this ranch, we’re in the same transition period as our neighbors and friends. This is the season. We all know it well.
But I can’t help but notice how much this shift-over is mimicking our lives right now as I sit here trying to hash out my thoughts after another visit to the bank and the insurance agent and our small business development consultant. My husband meets me in town with the feed pickup, dressed in layers because he’s been fixing on the tractor. He smells like the men I grew up with, coming inside with the cold and the scent of diesel on their jackets, noses and cheeks flushed under unshaven faces.
He looks sort of out of place in the seat of the beige bank office in his big boots and Carhart coat. We’re talking numbers and new business plans and what it’s going to take for him to make a living building garages and decks and tiling bathrooms and kitchens and refinishing barns and haying and feeding and raising cattle, all the things he’s always known, now officially declared as the plan. As his occupation. Carpenter. Rancher.
I’m his champion in my going-to-town clothes, the same way he’s been my champion in all of the weird leaps I’ve taken as an entrepreneur with a job title too long and unconventional for a business card. Now it looks like our cards might start looking the same.
When we first got married, I remember a moment when we were driving down the road toward home after a long trip together somewhere, and we made ourselves a promise that if we were ever in a place that we didn’t quite feel ourselves, or if we noticed the other slipping or not laughing as much as we know them to, that we would stop right there and help each other figure a way out.
I’m not sure exactly how the pact came to be, but I remember the road whizzing by outside my passenger window and I remember the lump in my throat dissolving with the breath I took after we declared it.
My husband and I talk dreams and plans for this ranch and our work almost every day. I don’t know if that’s a thing that everyone does, but we do it.
We lie in bed after the kids are finally sleeping and we hash it out, or we sit together in the noise and interruptions of our house and we make mental lists. We stand in the dark of our kitchen after I get home late and we recap and scheme.
And sometimes I don’t feel like thinking about it because it overwhelms me, but I listen.
And sometimes he is distracted by a phone call or a crying kid, but he comes back to it, to help me find my place again.
Because it’s important. Because you can’t see 10 years down the line, you can’t reach out and touch the plans, those dreams we have. And so we speak them out loud into the space between us.
Because it’s a new season and we’re getting ready to gather…