June 15, 2016

3 Min Read

Try taking an evening inventory. The one at our place looks something like this.

There’s something about a sunset on a warm spring evening in Alabama that blurs the line between heaven and earth yet brings into sharper focus that what matters most is found in the space where these two meet.

Against the calm backdrop of celestial reds and purples, the freshly-baled hay in the barn and yard fills the air with a sweet but musty aroma. Despite moody hay equipment, Rachel pulled off her first cutting this spring without a baler breakdown.

The cows that usually crowd the gate and fuss over the slightest potential for feed are quiet. This is especially noteworthy because they are normally the cause for the neighbor to call with a “Your cows are out on the county road” message.

The tractors, trucks and trailers surrounding the barn and house appear less crowded than they do the rest of the day. The ranch has limped by with old tractors and feed trucks and a “Please God, just make it last one more year” plea for years. And He does.

The newly arrived cow/calf pair are chewing cud in their new digs. Rachel’s compassionate dedication led her to bring in a cow suffering from nerve damage due to a breeding event. Her relocation closer to the barn allows for much-needed additional monitoring and eliminates the daily haul of water uphill from the creek to the injured cow’s former “mobile” pen built to enclose and protect her when she could barely walk. She seems to be trekking well on this particular evening considering her plight. So well that she blows at the blue heelers as they walk past her and her monster steer that is about to eclipse her in size.

The fence row is bursting with dewberries begging to be picked before the late spring sun becomes too much for them to bear. The dogs carefully choose the ripe ones from the thorn-covered vines, wincing occasionally from the slight pain inflicted from sticking their soft noses into sticky briars. This bountiful crop is a reminder that spring is fleeting and should be sipped slowly, like a fine wine.

The geldings graze peacefully, emitting only the slightest smell of sweaty horse flesh, just enough to remind a discerning nose that the spring breezes are on their way out. With the exception of a few minor wounds that were self-inflicted, they are healthy and looking forward to future forest rides to the creek.

The light fades as the fragrance of sweetbay magnolia blossoms drifts up from the creek bottom right before the chuck-will’s-widows begin their nocturnal chorus. These two are especially vivid reminders that Daddy is still present, though in a different way in this sacred space.

On this night, he will likely always haunt Rachel’s dreams with ranch work criticism and my dreams with laughter that my choices, good and bad, are due to his enduring influence.

I know he is watching proudly, reminding me and my sister that seeing the world in this kind of light creates a real connection between heaven and earth, a space that can always be entered, as long as we choose to look.

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