March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Sunset

The contracts for the pastures we rent state that cattle can occupy the designated spaces only from April 15 until October 15.  With permission from the landlords, Farmer John has been busy moving cattle home a few days late because we had some heavy rains around the 15th and he didn't want to make ruts in the fields.

Tonight John moved the portable corral from one pasture to another and I rode along, clambering into my customary place beside him in his red farm truck (a 3/4 ton GMC with a hay spike bed) .  While he folded the corral and hitched it to the truck, I walked down the road in the rapidly gathering dusk.   

It was an appropriately spooky October evening.  As I walked briskly toward a black stand of trees, a small creature scuttled out in the road about 100 feet in front of me, and both of us were startled.  It was difficult to identify him in the shadows cast by the trees, but I think it was a young raccoon. He turned and ran back into the ditch from whence he'd begun his journey, gathered his courage, then dashed across the road to the other side.

I paused, told myself that he was more frightened of me than I was of him, and continued my walk. I had my phone in my pocket and the night was still.  I told myself John would probably be able to hear me if I shouted for help.

The sun slipped below the orange rimmed horizon while the sky above deepened to rich indigo.  I was busy snapping phone photos and suddenly realized it had become very dark. I felt uneasy; what else might be lurking in those dark trees ahead?  I hurried back to the truck and was a little bit more out of breath than I ought to have been when I stepped back into the seat of the pickup.

John grinned at me. "Spooks in the bushes?" he asked.

"Just one," I replied, "And I think he made it safe home, just like I'm going to!"  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good Times Then and Now

Our family gathered to celebrate our son's 27th birthday this past Saturday night.  I'd worked all week organizing and preparing our meal:

slow cooked roast 
cheddar topped twice baked potatoes 
pureed butternut squash sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon
confetti corn 
apple salad 
hot rolls
homemade German chocolate cupcakes 
frozen vanilla yogurt

We had a blessed family time as our son, who was the inspiration for Marshal Rosencutter in The Children Are Tender, opened his gifts.  He had asked for and received a banjo--a banjo--perhaps with an eye to the time when his swing dancing skills fade. He can play in the band instead!

The family gathering came to a close, and our daughter and her husband strapped our grandsons into their car seats. They pulled out of the driveway as John and I waved goodbye with fervent enthusiasm from our customary stations on the front porch.  I was still waving as we navigated our way back into the house, and caused my husband brief irritation when my hand moved in front of his face and blocked his view. He had pressed his face close to the storm door glass, evidently wanting to assure himself that our son-in-law had navigated out the driveway and onto the gravel road safely. Awhile later our son and his wife gathered birthday gifts and the granddogs (a black lab and an adorable corgi), and we went through the same ceremony again (only this time I was careful not to block John's intent gaze as he watched them drive away). 

It doesn't matter that our daughter lives just ten minutes away and our son and his wife visit once or twice a month. The days when there were four toothbrushes in the cup by the sink instead of just two are long gone, and we can't help that our hearts pine after our children each time they drive away.  Make no mistake--we are thrilled that they have happy lives of their own, we love their spouses, and grandchildren have brought us joy of a caliber that blesses our hearts.  Nevertheless, a Monday morning following a weekend family gathering often finds me moping about and pining after the sound of my children's laughter from the days these walls provided them home, and we were their primary sources of comfort.  The little yellow house seems too empty on Monday mornings, and a little sad.  

However, I have no business nurturing sadness when God's been so good to us.  And the truth is I would certainly not choose to keep my kids at toddler or grade school age forever. In the first place, I like the solitude and peace of my days, even rainy Monday mornings. And in the second place, our lives hold lots of joy right where we are.

Our daughter's birthday is in a month.  I'll probably do another roast and perhaps mashed potatoes and gravy this time, she likes that.  There will be peach cobbler for dessert, her favorite. We'll have lots of joy, perhaps to the accompaniment of banjo music (!).  And when everyone leaves, Farmer John and I will wave goodbye, maybe shed a tear or two...and then we will enjoy a quiet evening together.

And that's good.