My mother is a school teacher with a love of traveling. I remember in elementary school being loaded up in her suburban to drive across the country. Normally we headed to Wyoming and Montana (a good long drive from Florida!) because my dad is a devoted fly fisherman and has always had a true love for the area’s trout streams…
When we arrived after many days of driving, my dad would fly out and meet us. What followed were days of riding horses to high mountain streams in search of trout.
During those long days of driving, I spent a lot of time daydreaming as I looked out of the car window. As we approached the mountains of Wyoming, I would sometimes see cowboys moving cattle on horseback. I would pretend that it was me and dream of the day when I could play cowgirl.
As I grew older and became a competitive swimmer, the family driving trips ceased due to my swimming meet schedule but we still would fly out to the trout streams of Montana every summer before school started. By high school, I had moved on from my childhood world of pretend, but the dream of riding horses and learning about cattle lay tucked somewhere deep in my heart.
When I met my farm boy from Nebraska at Dartmouth, little did I know that love would bring me to a farm in rural America where my childhood dreams would literally come true. I have to admit that there is a lot more hard work involved than I had ever imagined, but the life that I lead in Nebraska is not far from what I dreamed of as a child.
Last Sunday, my middle daughter and I moved cattle on horseback down at our grass pasture. That morning something triggered a sense of deja’ vu and memories of long ago dreams flooded my mind as the two of us moved the cattle. I remembered that little girl looking out the car window and watching the cowboys, and realized that I had become the heroine of my childhood daydreams…
My view of a cowboy has changed over the years. I will never be exactly like those men moving cattle thirty years ago in the mountains of Montana, but I do spend my days caring for cattle and I have a love of horses that runs deep to my core. I realized Sunday morning how much I loved what I do, and what a beautiful blessing it is to be able to teach it to my daughter.
I do not know exactly what my parents had in mind when they took me to those mountains year after year, but those trips planted the idea of doing something different with my life—Something tied to nature in rural America.
Today I live in a state where cattle outnumber people 4 to 1. I spend my days caring for animals and raising my children in God’s Country.
What more could any little girl with big dreams wish for?