Last week, Edie caught her first fish off of her great-grandparents' dock on a little lake in Minnesota. After her daddy helped her pull that bluegill out of the water using the little orange fishing pole with the button reel that has likely caught many grandkids' first fishes, she inspected its puckered mouth, ran her fingers over its scales, looked toward the shore and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Gramma Ginny, look! I caught a fish!"
Well, it's officially gardening season around here, which means the friendly competition I have with my dad about who is better at keeping the cows from eating the bean plants and pooping on the radishes has begun.
Throw open the doors and bring out that old book that props up your window. Let the sun in and the breeze blow through the house because I think spring might finally be happening after all. I wouldn't dare say for sure, except last weekend I picked some crocuses and a tick off the back of my neck, and out here those two things might be the most reliable indicators that sub-zero temps are on their way out, for a few months anyway. It's incredible what a 70-degree day will do to a person up here where winter drags its heavy feet coming and going.
We live on gravel roads that stretch like ribbons along pasture land dotted with black cattle. As we kick up dust beneath our pickup tires heading out to a chore or to meet up with a neighbor, we take for granted how these roads were built and why they're here. Because these days we're in a rush, driving faster than we should past newly made plans and history—some hidden and some still standing, weathered wood on crumbling foundations.
Out here on the ranch there are millions of tasks that require the proper attire. When I was growing up I don't think I ever saw our neighbor out of his Carhart bibs during the winter months. He would come in for a visit and sit at the kitchen table for an hour or so looking prepared to get up and go at any moment. Which he is — prepared, reliable and fearless. We know, because we've tested him.
This winter has been long enough. I woke up to another three inches of snow on our doorstep this morning, crushing my hopes of spring finally hanging up her coat here. I tried to complain as I poured the coffee, but I know it will fill the dams and make the grass green.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — I leaned in towards the mirror after my shower, hair fixed and on to my makeup, cursing the laugh lines around my eyes and the gray hair that accompanied them as I worked to hide the evidence of the years on my face. My 2-year-old daughter stood next to me, her blond hair wild from the morning. Each time I set something down on the counter — concealer, blush, eyeliner — she reached for it, as if mimicking my every move would help her unlock another door to growing up.
After three long, agonizing months in and out of intensive care unit in a Minneapolis hospital battling pancreatitis and fighting for his life, my dad is set to come home to the ranch in a few weeks. Friends are calling wondering what they can do, making plans to clear the driveway, buy groceries and welcome him back, and we are so very grateful.
Editor's note: Jessie Veeder and her family welcomed daughter Rosalee "Rosie" Gene on Dec. 1. Mother and baby are doing well, and we offer our sincere congratulations to them! Please enjoy this column written in 2011 while Jessie and her family settle into being a family of four. The Merriest Christmas to all of you! To honor your friendship and support I am giving you a gift that has been enjoyed by many families around the countryside here Christmas after Christmas, courtesy of my momma.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — It sits low, lower than the kitchen tables they make these days, its claw shaped feet at the bottom of the wooden pedestal look like they're clutching the hardwood floor. Without its three leaves it's perfectly round and could seat four for a card game. With its three leaves it seats six quite comfortably for a meal.