At the tender age of six or seven I ventured off alone to herd the milk cows. I climbed over the high wooden corral fence, heart pounding with my newfound courage. Then I sauntered up the lane, and headed east toward the highest pasture hill to locate the cows.
Through years of lazy summer afternoons, I hurried off much earlier than necessary, often into a fantasy world. Some days it took an awful long time to bring in the cows.
I derived such pleasure from communing with nature, especially the lilting call of a meadowlark, in those wide open spaces. Skipping through the lane on the way to the pasture, I exulted with those meadowlarks. Their melodious “see-you-see-yer” sang through the hills from March to October.
The quiet, the wind, and the wildlife on or surrounding our pasture hills gladdened my heart. There was always birdsong. Erect jack rabbits and a prairie dog town dotted the landscape. I giggled over the gangly long-eared hoppers, or the funny little prairie dogs sitting next to their lairs.
My imagination joined with nature to interfere with my duties. I pictured buffalo exploding across the flat prairie below or grazing on distant hills to the west. I imagined painted Indian ponies and puffs of smoke signals in the distance. That blue-gray horizon far beyond Willow marshlands to the north proved a mysterious land.
The colors of the sunset sky often distracted me when I was supposed to herd the cows for evening milking. The purples, pinks, blues, and gold that tinted the world around me caused me to envision the return of Jesus when He comes again in the clouds.
If I spotted the Holsteins straight east, appearing like black and white polka dots in the grove of ash trees, I felt apprehensive. Compared to the wind whistling its soothing music sound of rain through the cottonwoods close to our house, the old ash trees in the woods, with gooseberry bushes and other prickly undergrowth around the scarred trunks, made me feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Even the birds flitting among those trees made startling, scary sounds.
Somewhere, I found enough courage to enter the grove.