Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Ones Not There

I had a friend text me the other night while he was feeding cows in frigid temperatures. He had just read The Stockman’s Wife and wheels were turning:

Just thinking...1 of ur blogs could be about the 1s not there?

His message was cryptic, but I understood it perfectly. He was one of them, as was I.
I responded with frozen fingers:
"love if.
I was cold, my fingers hurt and my phone was frozen.

If you’re connected to the livestock world even the slightest bit you know that the National Western Stock Show in Denver is currently going on. Fifteen days of history, livestock, competition and red beers. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.  

Three years ago today (crazy) it was at the National Western that I met my husband.
Four years ago this week I passionately documented the experience of The Yards.
Nine years ago this week I found it as a place to reconnect with my Dad.
Today I’m on of those not there. The same with a lot of folks.

So what is life like during these fifteen days for those not at the National Western?

The ones not there send those who are away with food. Road food. Chex mix. Cookies. Beef jerky. Vitamins. Advil. And Five-Hour Energy. The road to Denver is long, windy and unusually munchie. 

The ones not there add Denver, CO to their Weather Channel app so they can stare at the 50° display on the screen while they’re chipping ice off their windshield. Gluttons for punishment. 

The ones not there have the rare opportunity to stand in the barn lot with their Dad in the quiet darkness and find the big dipper once the clouds clear and temperatures drop. Dad can always find it quicker. 

The ones not there have the guts to set a live trap, then are absolutely horrified when they catch the wrong (angry) animal. Now what?

The ones not there spend far too much time on the Internet trying to watch shows live (cursing their rural internet) and catch up on show results via social media. Social media posts are like salt in a wound to the ones not there. 

The ones not there thank God they're not a single parent. Getting little ones to school, programs, supper and bed is tough alone. And FaceTime is just really poor with the blowers fired up in the background. 

The ones not there schedule every social event they’ve been unable to plan for months. Dinners, drinks, reunions, coffee and antiquing – all things that may take second fiddle throughout the year. She also may be sadly ready for bed by 8:30; frozen valves do that to a person.

The ones not there control the thermostat, television channel, menu, bedtime, grocery list, laundry schedule and bed covers. The ones not there remember what it was like to be single.

The ones not there don't mind the hassle of getting ridiculously bundled up - and unbundled - several times a day because frankly, it's like a mini work out. The same with the burning lungs. Spend an hour outside in below zero temperatures and it's like you just ran a mini marathon. Assuming you know how that feels...?

The ones not there wait on phone calls for placing outcomes, sale reports, latest news and family updates. The ones not there usually fall asleep before these calls come due to the time difference.

The ones not there watch heifers start springing, cows start bagging and new calves figure out this big old world. The ones not there spend a lot of time in the barn thanking God that they were given the responsibility to keep all of these creatures - the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50- alive.  

 The ones not there find a certain luxury in the fact that they don’t have prepare as much supper, as half of the consumers are gone. Some nights, the ones not there gladly suffice with cheese and crackers. Several nights, actually. Maybe four nights in a row. 

The ones not there navigate their way through frozen pipes in the house, frozen valves in the pasture tanks, over flowing commodes after young company, curious heifers who snap temporary fence (twice), a full 15° day without a door on the house and also an ice storm for good measure.  Now you know why I’ve looked so incredibly strung out since last Wednesday.  I’ve learned to let my hair dry under a toboggan.

 The ones not there are reliable, optimistic (typically, but not always), 
humorous (typically, but not always), understanding (typically, but not always), and patient (typically, but not always).

They survive pleasantly. Because they know the worst that could happen is frozen valves, and they've already mastered those. 

The ones not there don't complain, they just get things done because being the only one home for a while means one wonderful thing: 
For two Saturdays in a row they can sleep in past 5:30 and no one knows. 

They're not talking.
They get fed too well. 

1 comment:

  1. Sorry again about the overflowing commode but loved the visit! I will come back ALONE;) you do a wonderful job taking care of your beautiful farm, so impressed, but would not expect anything less;)