See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  Isaiah 43:19

I awoke before my  husband.  Unusual?  More unusual than a flying armadillo.   Rather than rolling over and falling back to sleep, I groaned out of bed and crept through the dark house.  I laced up my tennis shoes and decided to greet the day with a walk. 

I was more than a little astonished to discover the sun does not rise before 5:45.  In fact, everything was still slumbering.  The horses, the birds, the sun, even the chickens.  But I do know  One who never sleeps or slumbers, no matter the time of day or night, this one is vigilant and waiting to hear from me, so He and I spent some time together.  And he put on quite a show. 

The morning was dark, but the moon was full, round and bright.  The eastern sky slowly began to lighten to a light blue.  I walked my driveway path that runs in front of my house from one gate to the next and then I turned around, back and forth, back and forth.  The sticks that lay before me on the dark path frightened me at first, until I realized they were just sticks laying in the dark and not the creepy snakes of which I first imagined. 

The chickens still slept in their coop, the horses stood as dark statues out in the pasture.  The whole world was quiet.  And dark. 

There is a sense of peace to arise before everyone else, to observe the whole day awaken, to experience the firsts. 

As the sun inched its  light upward, the world began to stir, slowly but then more increasingly.

Two birds sat on barbed wire; silhouetted against the early dark sky that began as deep blue, then transformed to light blue, pink, orange, red and then back to light blue as the sun found its place.

The birds in the trees began their morning songs, a few peaceful tweets soon turned into a cacophony of chatter and cheeps.

The chickens finally decided to make their morning debut with clucks of Good Mornings escaping into the air.

I walked my driveway observing the new day, thanking God for all things new.  Thanking Him for the opportunity to witness Him in action, as He brings forth each new day, each new breath, each new life.

He makes all things new.

The most miraculous of all perhaps being new life.  The little fingers.  The little toes.  The sweet pink lips.

Jason and I are on a new journey.  A journey of new life.  Of little fingers, little toes, and sweet pink lips.  We are bringing a new life into this world.

Partnering with God in the creation and witness of a miracle.

By His grace and mercy, we will hold this new baby in our arms come January. 

Jason is thrilled.  I for one, have been wrought with an array of emotions, predominately disbelief, shock and fear.   But I know whom I have believed, and I trust in the One who makes all things new.  It is in his working.  It is his timing and his plan.  I also understand the love and the blessing that this new creation is going to rock my world with is unfathomable.

If I may, I ask one thing of you.  When and if you think of us, would you speak a prayer on our behalf.   It would mean the world to us and our new blessing.

Blessings to you,


In Memory of My Dad #20

written on March 25, 1995

Recently I traveled to west and south Texas on “holiday” as my Scottish friend Jody Taylor calls it.  Actually it was more of a couple of days off work and more of a “spring break”. 

I took highway 33 out of Sapulpa, Oklahoma intending to take the “blue highways” that William Least Heat Moon describes in his novel which was called by that same name.  The first thing I noticed was that the small highways today are colored in black, at least they are on my road Atlas.  On the older maps the two lane roads were always colored blue, so my trip started off on a horse of a different color but I swore not to let the little stuff bother me.

I used up all of highway 33 that I could before changing my route to travel south to Binger, Oklahoma, childhood home of former major leaguer Johnny Bench.  I stopped at a three calendar cafe for some chicken fried steak and cream gravy—no low cal diets for this ol’ fat boy during this jaunt.  I usually rate cafes by the number of calendars they have hanging on their walls—the most I’ve ever seen gracing a cafe wall was five, but I’m sure there’s a seven calendar cafe out there that serves biscuits that will melt in your mouth.

Anyway, after I left Binger, I took highway 152 which I recognized from my old traveling pipeline days and I knew this would take me fairly close to Pampa, Texas where I would pick up my two daughters Joley and Angel.

Angel is a sophomore at Clarendon City College located there in Pampa and she decided to go on Spring Break with me.  Joley, who is two years older and has the responsibility of taking care of her Golden Retriever “Mo” and hubby John, told one to take care of the other and she loaded up to embark on the trip with us.

I realized something while traveling with my daughters down the open highways of Texas.  Even though we are tied together by the blood coursing through our veins, the similarities stop right there when it comes to environments and preferences.

I am a product of the Illinois River and the Baronfork Creek, of cane breaks and oak groves.  I’m a product of marshes and mud, of muskrats and perch.  I’m happiest scrunching my toes in the sunbaked sand of the riverbed and listening to the chatter of the red-winged blackbirds.

Jo and Angel are products of sidewalks and buildings, of potted fig trees and the manicured grass of city parks.  The only time they enjoy being outside is when they are standing outside of the video store about to rent a movie while six lanes of traffic noisily pass on the streets.  They are most at home in a thermostatically controlled air-conditioned house where the outside lights come on automatically.

“So what of it,” say both Joley and Angel, “plenty of people have grown up without the companionship of raccoons and otters.  And a lot of great people never heard of a red-winged blackbird.”

I suspect the reason that we want our children to share the experiences of our childhoods is because of the memories that constitute many of the important lessons that we learned early.  I learned patience waiting on a fish to bite, respect from watching a wall of rain move in on our house at Briggs, Oklahoma, humility from listening to the thunder so strong, it shook the panes of glass from the window sills.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for my own childhood, or maybe it’s just wanting to be included in the generation that my daughters belong to now.  Still, I have the uneasy feeling that the further we move from the everyday workings of the earth, the less we know of the values that have carried us through centuries of living.  Perhaps Kahil Gibran was right when he said, “your children do not dwell in the same house you live in….you can only visit them in your dreams.”


grannie and dad

R.L. Briggs

In Memory of My Dad #19

If you are shading the wrong side of 50, you are one of the unheeded senior citizens and you can always make an escape to your own personal hideout to get away from the witchy world of today by going into your own kitchen.

Here among the rich smells of good food cooking, and the sight of bottles cooling, you can surround yourself with blessed peace.  God Bless the American Kitchen.

We often revert to the things of our childhood to accomplish a task.  A favorite tree with the branches just right for sitting and daydreaming, perhaps we may have made a beach-head underneath the hanging branches of a cedar tree.  I can even remember digging holes to build an underground room so that we could get away from our parents or the preacher, or some other self-appointed guardian of our childish rights.

Today the aromatic and fun laden kitchen is the in-place to be.

The bombings, the train wrecks and the Republicans fighting it out in New Hampshire fade into insignificance when you unpack the latest gadget for your kitchen; the coffee bean grinder.  It will grind coffee beans coarse or fine, with several settings in between.  It was to be a gift for my daughter at Christmas but someway I ended up with the thing.  Now I must find a place for it.  This is not easy when your supposedly neat kitchen is already cluttered with coffee maker, automatic can opener, you sure can’t discard the ice bucket and the lasagna pans.  So where do we put this newest gadget?  We push the toaster aside making room for it and put it near the bread holder.  However, it’s nice knowing you are the gadget king of the county. 

These specialty catalogues that will mail you anything from Christmas cookies to salmon and fresh steaks, will fill your every need in the culinary closet.  In our kitchen, we have not one but two spaghetti combs.  How did the Romans build the coliseum and the Parthenon without ever inventing the spaghetti comb?  The reason would baffle the ancient scholars.  As a mess of spaghetti rolls and boils, the spaghetti comb is used to straighten the whole mess out until it looks as smooth as one of the Breck girls’ hair on the back page of Good Housekeeping magazine.

There is one item that I feel I should warn you about, and that is whiskey marmalade.  The ad asks:  “Do you have the blahs each morning?  Then have some whiskey marmalade with your English muffin.  It will put zip into your life.  Made from 80 proof Dewar’s Scotch whiskey.”

Now as you drive to work a man in uniform pulls along side and motions you to pull over out of the 65 MPH lane.  He will get out with a toy balloon and tell you to blow it up.  You can say severely, “When I was a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away my childish things.”  Then drive on and leave the trooper standing there with a toy balloon in one hand, as he scratches his head with the other wondering, what happened?  But I digress from my original theme, the kitchen.

Todays kitchen is a blessed retreat for those who wish to withdraw from the hurry-hurry of today’s world that is rushing by so fast.  You can sit beside the kitchen stove, watch the early morning sunrise and listen to a pot of wild plum jelly happily bubbling away on the front burner while you drink that third cup of coffee.  You can think back to your first presidential election when you first became eligible to vote.  You voted for LBJ because he said he didn’t want American boys fighting a war that Asian boys ought to be fighting, and you didn’t hanker to go to Vietnam.  But LBJ kept us into a shooting war with North Vietnam, to make the world safe for democracy.  But, that’s neither here nor there, and the wild plum jelly is about ready to be put into glass jars and capped with a seal of melted wax.

The only thing that ever came easy for me in securing food for a growing family was the gathering of wild plums.  They grow and hang in great clusters like grapes and you can take a machete and a couple of cardboard boxes and gather enough in five minutes that will make enough plum jelly for everyone from Eldon to Welling.

Now it is quiet and the kitchen is all mine as I listen to the purling and boiling of the plums, I can remember other days and other ways. 

I can see an older man ramrod straight and dressed in greasy buckskins bent over a small cooking fire.  He is turning bacon in a heavy cast iron skillet as his horse, a grulla dun crops grass in the background.  His keen blue eyes never look directly into the fire, but the man isn’t too worried because the dun horse would have given a signal if anyone had approached, and he is grazing contentedly.

He has three cooking tools at his disposal, a long-handled fork, a heavy spoon and a skinning knife that has done double duty when the buffalo were plentiful.  His name is not important, but he could be one of your ancestors, or mine.  He is a scout, guide, ranger or perhaps now he rides on the opposite side of the law.  Nevertheless he has led an adventuresome life with the trio of culinary tools and a coffee pot and the heavy iron skillet.

The coffee pot is rusting now in one of his many campsites, the fork and spoon just a memory, but on my kitchen wall, handy to the stove, hangs an iron skillet much the same as the one he cooked his countless meals in, fireblackened and about twelve inches across.

And that reminds me, the bacon is in the pan and store-bought biscuits in the oven, it’s breakfast time once more.

written by R.L. Briggs


To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.”  ~Robert Brault

I like grandpas.  There’s just something so appealing to me about them.  The way they tuck in their shirts and wear their pants high on their waist.  The comb tucked inside their shirt pocket.  The magical way they make their thumb disappear. 

If my paternal grandfather (Pop) were alive today, we would be eating cake and ice cream in celebration of  his 112th birthday. He was born on June 29, 1899, and wanted to live during three centuries.  He didn’t make it to Y2K, unfortunately, he was a long shot from it, passing away in 1976, a month before I turned one.

There is only one picture of us together that I’ve ever seen.  We are lying together on a bed.  He’s on his side, and he’s snuggling me in his arms as my cousin stands beside us.

In my life, I’ve felt a little bit cheated not having the opportunity to know him.  From family stories, I know that he was an upstanding fellow, a fiddle player, a poet, and man full of wit.  He wrote poetry, and my grannie told me once he wrote a poem about the local meteorologist who never could get the forecast correct, and sent it to him.  He read it one night during his weather report.

I have an old cookbook given to me by my grannie.   The” receipts” as they called them, are a collection from the pioneers that settled this part of the country and they call for ingredients like oleo and sour milk.  Towards the back, you can learn how to make salve and stink bait, if the notion strikes you. 

Along with a sweet little recipe for a Happy Day that goes like this:

A little dash of water cold, a little leaven of prayer.
A little bit of sunshine gold, dissolved in morning air.
Add to your meal some merriment, add thoughts kith and kin,
And then as a prime ingredient, a plenty of work thrown in.
Flavor it all with essence of love, and a little dash of play;
Then a nice old book and a glance above complete a happy day.

Shouldn’t we all have a daily dose of that?

There among the yellowing pages of this old cookbook, lies a stained, folded piece of paper.

On one side, in a lady’s writing is an unlabeled list of ingredients for something delicious I’m sure.  Butter, sugar, eggs, chopped nuts, dates, flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, unsweet apples.  Almost sounds like a fruit cake doesn’t it?

And then on the other side, in Pop’s old penmanship is a poem:
My kids aint cute as your kids are
To this I will agree
But you dont have to keep rubbin it in
It hurts me cant you see
But heres one thing boy that is right
and youll admit it too
Im smarter by far and hansomer too
Than a silly nut like you

Happy Birthday Pop! 

And what about you?  Was your grandpa your best friend?  Was he mean?  Did he play the banjo?  Was he smart and handsome?  Could he make his thumb disappear?  Or did you, like me,  miss out?




In Memory of my Dad #18—Happy Father’s Day!

Although a week late, here is a delightful Father’s Day tribute written by my late dad. Enjoy!


A fellow that I know recently went home to West Texas and he can’t get over what his children did for him for Father’s Day, although it was Memorial Day.

It began with a surprise invitation.

His children, mostly grown, greeted him with guileful smiles and disclosed what was in store.  Even son No. 1 was there.  He had made an easy 11 hour and 40 minute drive from Houston, pulling a 17 foot Chris craft boat equipped with 120 HP motor.

“Dad, guess what?” said daughter No. 1.  “We’re going on a big outing and it’s all in your honor.”  The man gulped as the boys playfully cuffed him around, bloodying his nose.

“It’s true, Dad, anything you want to do, we’ll do.  Make it a huge Memorial Day/Father’s Day combination, since you’re not going to be here for Father’s Day,” chimed in daughter No. 2.

The young folks used this time to formulate plans, as the man looked around for an escape route that he knew was not there.

It was decided that Dad would get the biggest kick out of going to Lake McClellan, a small buffalo wallow of a lake that becomes a kinghell mess on any given holiday.  And this holiday would be worse than any.

“No use protesting, Dad,” said son No. 1.  “It’s all settled.”

The plan as outlined to this dude, was that he go down to the lake early and reserve a good spot, seeing as how there would be a crowd that you couldn’t fit into the Astrodome there on the morning of the 29th.

“Get a nice shady spot,” said son No. 2.  “Make sure you have a place for your folding chair, it’s your day.  Besides we need a place for a headquarters.”

Food!  What would Dad like most to eat on this day?  It was soon decided that hamburgers and ballpark hot dogs would suffice.  “Dad, are you writing this down?’ said daughter No. 1.  “We’ll need plenty of chili and chopped onions and melt some cheese to pour on just before the tabasco sauce.  You’ll want some fritos to crumble on top of that.  And oh yeah, dad, make sure the wieners are those big fat ones.”  Dessert would be double-stuffed oreos.

Dad said with the expensive drugs he was taking since his last stroke, and the small bit of progress he was making in his diet, maybe he shouldn’t.  But they stopped him right there.  “Make sure those are all beef franks, Dad.  If you can’t treat yourself on your own day, you’re going to ruin this for the rest of us.”

Dad apologized and said forget about him.  He would just have a small snack and then go on to the lake.  So Dad went to the lake early that morning, and purchased large quantities of food which he managed to unload in about six trips from the car to the headquarters table—all the while feeling very honored.

At about dark the children arrived, honking their horns and yelling ceremoniously and began unloading surprises—tape decks, loudspeakers, the neighbors’ kids and enough Black Sabbath and Pearl Jam to keep a Memorial Day concert going all night.

Next morning, everybody slept late in honor of Dad, who was allowed to fix breakfast for the whole company.  While clearing away the breakfast dishes, the young folks left to launch the boat.

“You just stay here and take it easy, Dad,” yelled No. 1 from the boat.  “We’ll feel out the water conditions.”  The feeling out was completed at noon.  All the kids returned famished from their feeling out.  While Dad cleared away the noon dishes, his children napped, tired out from honoring Dad so hard.

Then everyone went down and got into the boat, except for Dad.  “Give us a big push and then jump on.  Dad gave a mighty shove and then with a great leap landed knees first on the bow of the boat.  The boat never moved one inch from the bank.  The crunching sound practically made everyone sick as Dad rolled around there on the shores of Lake McClellan, bleeding profusely from both knees.

They were still yelling for him to get medical attention as they headed out to open water for an afternoon of water skiing.

“Dad, as soon as you can walk, have someone look at those knees.” 
“Dad, it doesn’t matter how you load my car, just be careful of those Pearl Jam tapes.”
“Dad, take it easy, and have a wonderful Father’s Day.”
But by then they were out of earshot, having done all that they could do.

They found him there in the late afternoon sun, both knees bandaged brightly, the blood just seeping through the bandages.  He was in a folding chair, head thrown back, sleeping in the thin sunlight.  He heard their voices as in a dream.

“Look at him.  He’s all worn out from all the fun.”
“Somebody get those flies away from his mouth.”
“I can’t wait until next year; it’s a lot of trouble, but Dad’s worth it.”




A drive down Highway 10 will snake you through beautiful Green Country. Past trees and hills and green galore.  A very different view than the flat, yellow, arid, blowing, dusty pasture grasses that I gaze upon each morning from my kitchen window.

A drive down Highway 10 will snake you past Lover’s Leap, Kooter’s Bar & Grill, and several canoe rentals.

mom, me, and jolea at Peyton's Place---Cabin #1



Until you finally arrive at Cabin #1 where I spent my childhood summers.

Where I learned to dig deep and find the best skipping stones and try to outskip my dad.  I failed.  Every time. 

Where I itched with Poison Sumac every year and walked around pink skinned, not from the sun, but instead from the Calamine Lotion caked on my body.

Where I tasted my first  fear of water when the swift rapids unexpectedly carried me farther than I expected or dared to venture.

This past Memorial Day, I took a nostalgic drive down Highway 10 and found things much the same, yet much different. 

The peacocks who enchanted me with their outspread plumage were no longer swaggering about.

The sliding glass door on Cabin #1 was replaced with a regular fiberglass door and the choice of paint colors no longer made the cabin “rustic”.

The place where we swam was the same, and it was almost peaceful, if not for the annoying college-aged drunks loitering about being much too loud and immodest.

But for a moment, I tuned them out.  I stood on the rocky bank of the Illinois River and closed my eyes.  And I remembered.

Me and my sister Jolea. Circa late 1970's.

 I remembered summers long gone, but not forgotten.  A family in tact before divorce and then death separated.  I remembered a happy childhood.  Loving parents. Carefree moments.  And catching fireflies in a jar.  I said good-bye.

Then I walked to my car and drove home.

June 12th

Today, J-Dub and I celebrate 7 years of wedded bliss.

He claims it’s only feels like 30 minutes.

He also informed me a few moments ago that my corn-on-the-cob is always kinda tough.  Evidently I cook it wrong.  According to Google, you should boil the water first, then add the corn, return to a boil, cover, turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

Who knew?

I just throw it all in there and let it boil together. 

Today we honored our love by napping the afternoon away.  I did, anyway. 

Soon we will enjoy a tender steak on the grill with tough corn-on-the-cob.  Then watch Cheers reruns until snores fill the living room.  Mine, of course.

Naturally, seven years is not a great accomplishment, we haven’t reached our silver, golden, or even aluminum milestone, but in this day and age, I’d like to think we’re doing okay.  I asked my sweet beloved what advice he would give others for achieving marital bliss.  He answered, “I don’t know what that is.”

But he came up with a few:

1) Laugh alot—-at each other’s expense.
2)  Say “Yes Dear” often.
3) Come to the blinding realization that your twinkies are her twinkies too, so coming home to the last twinkie wrapper crumbled on the counter is just tough nookies.
4)  Realize you can’t win.
5) Never criticize her cooking.  (Oops)

All jokes aside, marriage can be a wonderful union full of rich rewards.  It takes sacrifice and unselfishness.  Giving of yourself to another and enjoying the ride.

And eating the tough corn-on-the-cob.


Don’t come to pay me homage
or spill tears upon my stone.
Come now and let me touch you,
Let me know I’m not alone.
I need the sweet assurance
of your warm and gentle smile.
I yearn to hear your laughter,
sit beside me for a while.
When Jesus comes to take me
to my home in heaven’s place,
I’ll go in peace, contented
that I’ve seen your smiling face.
I will not smell the flowers
or hear you sing my praise.
Bring them now to warm my heart
throughout my living days.
Your kindness and compassion,
greater love you can’t endow.
Come share these precious moments
while I live…..come do it now

~Patience Allison Hartbauer

This poem was in a book sitting on my nightstand of the Bed and Breakfast I am staying in while visiting my dad’s grave for memorial day.

It’s a reminder to me to cherish the time we have with loved ones who remain. We may be visiting their graves and cherishing their memories all too soon.

Fit Throwing at its Finest

This morning I had a fit.  A wall-eyed, screaming MiMi, all-out tizzy fit.  The ugliest kind you can imagine.  Raised voice. Words that need to be beeped out.  Irrational behavior.  I might’ve even stomped my foot.  Actually I’m pretty sure I stomped my foot.  More than once.  I don’t even know what triggered it.  I have surmised either I have the absolute worst case of PMS ever recorded in the history of womanhood or I’m going crazy.  If you think of all the crazy women in the world you’ve ever heard of and bundle them up in one person, that is who I’m becoming.  It’s a bit unsettling. 

On my car ride into work, knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel, tears pouring out of my freshly mascaraed eyes, I told God how mad I was.  It was  pretty much a one-sided conversation consisting of “I’M MAD!  I’M MAD!  I’M MAD!”  How grateful I am that God forgives.  He forgives even my anger toward HIM.  His shoulders are big enough to handle me being upset with Him. I’ve apologized to both him and my unsuspecting husband who totally took the brunt of pent-up emotion.  I gathered myself together and went to work.

I finished my work day without murdering any small children, which might be considered a miracle considering the morning I had. On the way out, I received a text from my husband informing me supper was on the bar, and I headed home.  Headed home in the same car, on the same road, just a few hours later from the cry fest I had with my Lord.  I never turn on my radio.  There was a time in my past when I felt like music was life.  If I was stranded on a deserted island and could have one electrical device, it would’ve been a radio.  But now as I’m older, I very rarely listen to music or the radio.  I have too much to think about instead.   Today for some reason (read GOD here) I turned on the radio.  Unbeknownst to me, it was programmed to a Christian station and the most beautiful song was playing.  I’m including it here in case you want to have a listen.  I hope you do.

The lyrics are beautiful and were exactly what I needed to hear.  God knows.  He always knows what we need.

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I received a graduation announcement for a beautiful girl, a former 3rd grader of mine, and printed in it was this scripture, “God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.”  Psalm 46:5

And that too was just what I needed to be reminded of.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, supper was indeed on the bar.

My sweet husband does understand comfort food.  A little Taco Villa, something a little sweet, and something a little salty.  This is the food that brings me comfort; except for the Milano’s and other soft cookies, I think those are for him.  I deserve rat poison, but instead I received love. 

 I find it unexplainably refreshing to know that even on days, weeks, months, when I act like a horse’s ass, my God is always good and my husband still loves me.

Now that’s something to sink my teeth into.

In Memory of My Dad #12–When the goings got tough, the tough went over the hill

When my wife, Anne, used to come home and find me gone, one of the children would say, “Dad has gone over the hill again.”  That would mean things at home had become a trifle thick and I’d walked out on the family once more.

No, I don’t mean walked out for good, but I’m impatient taking care of small children.  Believe me, mine were a handful; yelling, laughing, and running all over the place.  I would become exasperated with the young ‘uns and at times I would blow-up for no reason at all.  Then I would remember something from the Scriptures; “Provoke not your children to wrath.”  That’s when I would know that it was time to go over the hill.

Over the hill is where the yellow wild flowers grow in great abundance, looking as if some demented artist splashed great slashes of yellow paint everywhere.  When my girl Angel was a baby, she picked a big handful of the blossoms.  Joley taught her to say “Happy Easter” and her flowers graced the table that Easter Sunday.  The Easter ham never tasted better.

Over the hill lies a pond where the fat, old bullfrogs croak and harrumph the night away.  Once a neighbor gathered a gallon bucket of frog legs there in less than an hour and the antics that the frogs made when Stan or Steve, both sharks in the local Little League, would throw a rock in their midst, it would seem to rain frogs everywhere.

The hill would slope gently down to where a wet weather creek bubbles and gurgles happily before joining Red Deer creek.  The creek is forbidden to the girls who are barely out of the toddler stage.  But I find the remnants of a small dam and I wonder what kind of skullduggery the boys have been up to down here. 

One hill leads to another and that hill is covered with Indian Paintbrushes.  The Indian Paintbrush to me is the most beautiful of all the wildflowers in the world.  Beyond that is another hill where you can’t walk without crushing the State flower of Texas, the wild Bluebonnet.  Bluebonnet Hill at that time was soon to be leveled to make room for a 4 lane bypass around Pampa, Texas, so me and my kids used to gather a handful of the bluebonnets and transplant them in a grove of mesquite bushes not far from the hill.  I hope we were successful in the removal of the wild flowers.  But that has given over to time now and the flowers probably won’t grow where they were transplanted. 

The mesquite grove also provided us with the aromatic wood that we would use for cooking out.  There is no better taste anywhere in God’s great garden than mesquite flavored steaks or chops, and if it was a few days after payday the aroma of hot dogs could be smelled throughout the neighborhood.

I might as well walk a bit farther to where the black Angus and the Hereford cattle make their home.  Maybe I’ll even inspect the water gaps, making sure they are still sturdy.  I remember once during a summer of not much rain, when the owner of this property offered to cut the water gaps out so that the neighbor’s cattle would have a place to come to water in this spring fed watering hole.  Yes, I remember that drought and the neighbor’s kind offer.

Circling back toward the house I see the black Angus, like a small boy’s playthings, on a hill not so far away, the cows ignore me but the calves approach me cautiously.  I don’t bother them and soon they rejoin their mothers.

Now I have come full circle and here is my household still needing me, I hope fervently.  Angel throws herself against my legs wanting to be picked up and carried, Joley’s bright brown eyes welcome me home while she talks a mile a minute.  Stan and Steve rough house each other around the front yard, Stan laughing so hard at Steve’s ineffectual pummeling that his own defenses are almost nil.

These are my kids, how could I have been so annoyed with them only a short time before.

My wife asks, “Where have you been?”

“Over the hill,” I reply, knowing that things are going to be all right once again in the Briggs’ house.

~R.L. Briggs