4/9/06, from South Dakota Office of the
Secretary, Dept of Agriculture
On the ranch, it is calving time.
The early morning ride to check the cattle is the
best part of each day, best because all the world is
soaked in peace and life.
As my horse (Blackberry) and I leave the yard, I can
hear the Canada geese calling to each other. They
are offspring of geese planted years before. They
have many places to nest undisturbed on the prairie
where no one expects to find them.
The wild turkeys seem to be jabbering at each other
about what they will do today. I hear them too above
the constant chatter of smaller birds and the songs
of robins and meadowlarks.
During that first hour of light, the wind is calm
and the first warmth of sun mellows the morning
crispness of the air. Later the wind will come up.
By afternoon it may be howling, but for now even the
wind is at peace with the earth.
Blackberry notices the cottontail rabbits darting
around at the sound of her hooves. She pays them no
mind, unless they take her by surprise.
My mind just sits there drinking from the fountain
of early morning. Thoughts of office, and phones and
politics and problems are not to be found. They are
not even distant. They don't exist.
An Indian man once told me that his father believed
that God is closer to the earth in the early
morning. When he lay dying, his only request was to
die in the early morning for that closeness. The now
famous "star" on star quilts is said to be the
morning star. Maybe that has something to do with
I am no expert on Indian beliefs. I don't know if
that was unique to his tribe or is a general belief
shared by all Native Americans, but I suspect it is
common to all people of the land.
On that early morning ride, I too am one of the
people of the land. If not religious, it is
certainly a spiritual bond between the people and
It is not nature worship, as some city folks
believe. It is just being part of the land, by
remaining quiet and in awe of creation. There is
nothing else like it. I hold onto it.
When I return to my office job (as I occasionally
must do), I take it with me. I recall those moments
and take them out and look at them, like little
nuggets of gold found without effort.
I suspect every farmer and rancher experiences a
similar thing. They may not think about it, but it
is there. If they too were tied to a desk and phone
for a while, they would do more thinking about it.
It is not January 1st on the wall calendar, but it
is the beginning of my year. It always is a time of
great hope and excitement about good things to be
Spring is to my year what early morning is to my
day, my favorite part.