Remember the days when learning about the passage of time was a fun thing? Counting the seconds in a minute and marking off the boxes on mom’s wall calendar in a birthday party countdown was met with a sort of anticipation that made the cake so much sweeter and the water balloon fight you had planned so much more thrilling.
I don’t remember the first time I was on a horse. I was too young I suppose. Possibly in my dad’s lap, my little body wedged in behind his arm and the saddle horn as he maneuvered us around the barnyard, three creatures combined, connected and moving slowly, feeling out our world.
When the ground thaws at the ranch, all the creatures that flew away, crawled into nooks to sleep, migrated south or played dead on the windowsill of the house start warming up, coming to life and emerging.
I’m 6 years old, and the wind is blowing a chill across my face, making my eyes water and the fuzz that escaped my stocking cap flip in an attempt to fly away. My mom zipped my coat up to my chin, hiding the top of my Easter dress and leaving the frills to float above my snow boots, creating a perfect uniform for a task that required agility and patience, athleticism and all of Spider-man’s senses.
When I grow up, I want to be the kind of woman who lets her hair grow long, wild and silver. I hope I remember to keep my flannel shirts draped over chairs, hanging in the entryway and sitting on the seat of the pickup where they are ready and waiting for me to pull them on and take off somewhere, the scent of horsehair on the well-worn sleeve.
Over the hill in the barnyard and behind the old garage, covered by a tarp and a fresh dusting of spring snow, sits a little yellow boat on a little trailer.
I want to talk about this boat because it’s April now, and it’s time to start making plans to cast a catfish line, pull on some cutoffs and grill something, already.
I was standing at the kitchen counter cutting chicken for dinner, watching and laughing as his little legs took him flying. Around the coffee table, past the couch, down the hall and back again, stopping short every few steps to scrunch up his eyebrows, he held up his arms and made a noise that indicated he was stopping something evil.
The snow has thawed, slowly revealing a brown, muddy world, one littered with things forgotten under the five-month blanket. A pile of wood, a stack of leftover pallets, shingles from an unfinished garage roof sit just where we left them.
I was taking a drive with dad the other day – heading back to the ranch from town after dropping my car off at the shop and in between an exchange about this endless winter – when dad told me George died.
So I took a Zumba class the other day.
I know, I know. I’m way behind on this fitness phenomenon that gets us all together in a big room to cha-cha, salsa, and drop it like it’s hot in the name of Latin music and exercise.
Last week I stood in line at a convenience store in Boomtown, behind a man in Carhartts and steel-toe boots, in front of a woman running in for a snack and a potty break with her toddler, and surrounded by dozens of characters shuffling around the man mopping the melted snow off the floor in search of coffee, cigarettes, a slice of pizza – something to help them through the rest of a working day.
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