I need to go back. I won't retrace all my steps, though. I'll drive through Penrose and look at the valley where we spent so many years but I won't understand all the changes and I can't absorb them all. I'll look at the little white house we lived in all those years and see if Burchell has cut down the tall cottonwood trees that shaded our first little brown home. I won't go to church in Powell even though I spent hundreds of hours helping build the new chapel there, even to see the people who were so important to our family for so many years. I just don't know how to sort it all out. I don't know what to say to them. It's too late for me to try and understand it all now. Maybe just being in Cody will help.
And then, back in time once more. Hey Min, it's time to go to Washington. Did you pack my shaving gear? Well, why not? If you're coming, you can't sit on the back porch weeping forever. Take a good look, Minnie. This is the last time we'll ever drive down this lane to the road that will take us out of here. Take a last look at that little white house. Can you believe how fast I built it back in 1944? Do you remember when we grew sugar beets right up to the back doorstep when we first moved here? Can you believe we raised six kids in that little tiny place? Well, Min, you won't have to raise glads and dahlias and strawberries in these bog clods any more; you can grow anything in that rich sandy soil on our place in Washington. What do you think? We're crossing the Shoshone River. Should we turn back? I'll tell you one thing, I won't miss those cows for a minute. Now Montana. Big Sky Country. Missoula. The wheat fields of Washington. Then the peaks of western Washington. Fear. How will it all work out?
Then forward and backward in time. Hey Elna, are you ready yet? Well, I'll just wait here in the red Buick and read this old Reader's Digest a bit longer. Everyone keeps after me to get some new reading matter in the car, but this tattered magazine is like an old friend; I've about got it memorized and I always know what to expect. I'm a bit drowsy. Maybe a quick nap . . .
Uncle Dewey, how much longer down this snowpacked trail before we're home? Hey Min, remember when we got rid of most of the smell of those rotten beans after we scrubbed our little brown house with gallons of Lysol? After we paste over the walls with pages from these stacks of Collier's magazines your mother gave us, it should be pretty clean. Isn't this the most wonderful place you ever saw? And it's ours, and I feel like a king. I guess we'd better get moving; Dwight's going to show up pretty soon, this sunny September of 1932.
The old John Deere is pop-pop-popping right along this morning. I should be able to finish cutting this upper alfalfa field if I don't break another sickle tooth and have to stop to fix it. I wish I could have saved those two beautiful pheasants that ran into the mower, but I just didn't see them in time. The green alfalfa stems, topped with their crowns of purple blooms, are falling smoothly behind the mower blade as I turn the corner of the field and head down the long east-west stretch, bumping rhythmically over the irrigation corrugations. Great Caesar's Ghost, the sunflowers along the ditchbank are big this summer. At least their bright yellow faces are cheerful, even if they are a sticky nuisance. But look at all those grasshoppers. Better get the hay cut before those devils take it. Well, I'm not quite finished but, by my shadow, it's about 12:15 and Minnie will be waiting dinner so I'd better turn off the tractor and head for home. It won't take me long to finish this afternoon.
But what is this? The sun seems incredibly bright. And here's a path through the fields that I've never seen before. And who is that? That's funny, I can see someone way off waving, waving. Then nearer, nearer. then, more light. Now I can see her, coming through the fields to meet me. Hey, Min.