I did it again. I was out running, loping along on a two track trail, warily watching my footsteps for rattlesnakes in the path and as I approached the private gravel road, I slowed down, looking both ways (twice) before taking a right hand turn. It amused me that after 17 summers and knowing that the only people who traveled that gravel road were my family members (who were safely sleeping at this time of the day), that I still heeded the requirements of a more suburban lifestyle. Instincts die hard, or maybe not at all. Suffice it to say, there was no oncoming traffic that day. And thankfully no rattlesnakes, either.
At the intersection of Bob Fudge and Watkins Roads, there sits an abandoned post office, a sign that there once existed numerous thriving communities in this area. Neighbors were plentiful and homesteads along the road were frequent. As time wore on, though, the communities slowly eroded away, one post office and one schoolhouse at a time. Agriculture is tough out here and it took a little more land and a little more luck to find success in working for mother nature. Sometimes, the instinct to work hard just wasn't enough to make a successful go of it.
Bob Fudge Road stretches for six miles in a north-south direction in the southern tip of our county. If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Fudge was a legendary cattleman, orchestrating the great cattle drives of the 19th Century from Texas to Montana. We travel this way once a year to cut hay when the alfalfa blooms. It's a grand cross country trek south of our house, with great views of the Sheep Mountains, a cute glimpse of our neighbors' goat herd bouncing across the hay field, and a great game of pop can baseball while we wait for the swather to get repaired.
Sometimes, things go wrong. This often happens when you are in the field farthest from home with limited tools other than a pair of fencing pliers and a cooler that may or may not be cold. The irony of farm life is never lost on me. So, again, we were reminded of the generosity and benefit of good neighbors and called in a helping hand who soon got us on our way. We are thankful for these relationships. It's the only way that life out here would still exist.
The instinct for Danish Cowboy to accomplish his seasonal tasks is strong as is his instinct to include his family whenever possible. We love these little adventures and occasional mishaps. It's the stuff memories are made of. My instincts, though, are still developing. I would never remember to grease the machinery, I sometimes am in shock that we are responsible for our own plumbing and water supply, and failing to know (or learn after all these years) the intricacies of cattle movement cause frustrations on both sides of the marriage.
But I have perfected enjoying the smell of the hay and the violet shades of the alfalfa blooms. It is a feast for the senses. The instinct to find beauty and goodness in all that surrounds me is one that I understand. It will never leave me.
I know that these children will grow up with instincts all of their own. They are being raised in a different time and in a different type of community than the one that both Danish Cowboy and I experienced. Some of the dangers to avoid, like rattlesnakes in the tall grass and looking both ways as you enter a road (even if it is an abandoned one), have already been ingrained as instincts in their head, even though they think I'm a little crazy sometimes. But they will need to know more and will need to learn how to live in a society that is changing quickly, both locally and globally. We are challenged and excited about this task of raising kids and teaching them how to live in the world. And so very, very fortunate to be able to do it in this amazing, yet lonely, prairie setting.