This was first published September 15, 2008.
Sometimes, just sometimes, when Vernon says he has to run to the other place for some odd quick job, I just gotta go. I gotta stop looking out my living room window. I gotta breathe some clean air that doesn’t smell of fried potatoes and laundry soap. I gotta take my dogs who run in circles reminding us that they exist and they, too, gotta go! So we climb into a ranch pickup, an experience in itself! Tools must be moved. Gather the extra jackets and sweatshirts that have spent the summer living on the edge of “just in case.” Pull yourself up and settle into the layer of dust and hay and dog hair and inhale the essence of motor oil and grease, dried hay, and the everpresent Wyoming dust, and crunch the pop can under your feet. Windows down for the last of the September warmth for this day. Views of red tail hawks in silhouette. A dog breathes into my ear as he tries to absorb every scent that tantalizes in the breeze. Bouncing and grabbing for support when the potholes and leftover puddles disturb an even road. Then the highway and a relaxed mood coincide with the pavement. Deer cross the highway towards the closest alfalfa field for a late supper. The mile passes quickly and we’re out. Dogs are free. A rabbit lives on the edge of danger, and easily loses the dogs in its warren of wood. Vernon makes some adjustments to the old combine and climbs in to move it to the quonset where it will spend the next 11 months. I start sweeping the shop for something to do, pushing grain and hay and dust and grease forward and forward again. Time to go again. I load up the dogs, and, oh, man! did you have to go get a drink??? Now the pickup has eau de chien added to its repertoire. Wet dog. A mix of moss and mud and sage and dog. Keep the window down so Vernon won’t complain when the scent gets a little overwhelming… The sun has disappeared and the pumpkin sky is cooling down. More deer. No cars. This time it is 3 miles to the Mills place. More deer. Two fawns suckle their supper and ignore our approach. Vernon rolls up a hose, draining the pipe for winter is complete. More deer. Good grief. They’ve just about taken over the place since no one lives there right now. Whitetails and muleys both. Don’t forget the antelope, too. They have a month exactly before hunting season begins… enjoy yourselves, deer! I glance over my shoulder and the moon peeks over the Big Horns. Pumpkin sky now is denim and darkness is seconds away. That’s it… that’s all there is to do… just minor details before they are forgotten. We climb again into the pickup and wind our way home. Windows are up, sorry, Lucas, it is too chilly now! The moon plays peek-a-boo over the red hills and swings from our right hand side back to behind us, reflected occasionally in our rearview mirrors. Another red tail on a another power pole watches us. The ride was simple. The work undemanding. The company excellent. The music hushes its country beat. We’re home. Get out. That was fun… Sometimes, you just gotta go…Find me here!