Years ago I remember my Mom telling me about a moment in her life -- it was one of those "Just now, right now" moments of breathless reality. She was out horseback riding to gather in the cattle. There was still a lot of unfenced range and she had to go a ways to get them in for her Dad. She described how she put the horse into a gallop. As she was flying along with the horse, her thought was, "This is the life for me." It was total freedom.
I had some of that same feeling yesterday. I was out north of town visiting some dear friends. We have known each other for many years. She was my high school English teacher and he was a member of my congregation when I was pastoring. We always have good visits and I think there is a genuine bond between us.
We talk around the counter with a cup of coffee or tea in our hands and the subjects range from politics to history to what it was like to live years ago on the prairies. I can share stories my parents told me and he enjoys them because he lived those days.
We are all into politics (and fortunately we agree) so that is a subject we discuss and books and just concerns about life. I always come away energized. It is food for the mind and the soul. Good conversation, i.e., civil discourse, is a little hard to find these days.
As I left their place and headed back to town the sun was setting. It was late afternoon, that time in the winter when the days are still growing shorter. This year our winter on the range has been mild. No snow or moisture of any kind, temperatures in the 30s, 40s and even 50s, some wind, but much blue sky and sunshine. When the sun sets the wind gets cold, but it is still unbelievable. Right now folks are hoping for Christmas travels to be bare and dry at least until everyone gets home safely.
Driving the gravel road that connects with the highway the deer were coming out in the fields. Eight here, six over there. They did not pay much attention to me. Where the sun was hitting the hilltops the land was golden. Beneath that line it was shadow and grays and purples and blues. I just drank it all in. More food for the soul.
We had talked a little about the need we had for open spaces. I know my philosophy of life has been shaped by the big blue skies and the places where you can see for miles in any direction. As I crested the ridge and followed the road down to the pavement I could view the Yellowstone Valley in all its beauty. In that moment I thought of my mother and understood what she meant.