I grew up on a Kansas farm five miles from civilization, the nearest neighbor. Country life provided fresh air, wide open spaces and freedom. Anyone who has ever been stuck in a claustrophobic corporate cubicle or city traffic jams relates to the profound desire for freedom. Unfortunately as a child, I had no other point of reference. Freedom was my entire life.
Saddling our mare and riding across the pasture with my long curls flying in the breeze provided my daily activity. For a change of venue, it simply meant riding bareback instead of with a western saddle. Granted, my height restriction made it necessary to find a stump or some other object to climb up in order to mount. At least with a saddle, I could put my foot in the stirrup and climb up more easily. Ok, I admit to being a tomboy.
Riding across the fields of wildflowers down to the slate bed streams was taken for granted. After all, my playground consisted of 160 acres. Riding through the black walnut trees or the oak trees in the fall when the colors turned red, orange, and gold contrasted with the evergreens gave the appearance of the Ozarks. Freedom presented itself as normal.
After a few years in various other locations, I moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Steamboat felt more like going home than an adjustment. Granted the ski mountain provided a sharp contrast to the flat Kansas terrain, but the wildlife and fields of wildflowers provides the same open freedom. Even the evergreens and quakies, Aspen trees, reminded me of the black walnut trees and the natural Christmas trees of the farm.
The Kansas excuse for a town, Parker, brought rural to a new low. Parker, the closest town, was 12 miles away. The city fathers thought about a stop light on the main street but settled for a blinker. Since the town only included a population of 150, if you also counted cats and dogs, they could not really justify a stop light. Steamboat was a thriving metropolis in comparison. Steamboat boasted of over 7,000 people in Routt County when I moved there in 1981. Steamboat consisted of two segments, a ski mountain and a ranching community. Both appealed to me, but the ranching element reminded me of the little Kansas tomboy with long curls bouncing in the wind.
One of my fondest memories of that simple and basic Kansas farm life revolved around horses. I remember coming downstairs one Christmas morning when I was maybe 5 or 6. My father was a stern old country German who never looked happy about anything. This morning he looked happy for some reason. Take every ray of sunshine you can get. He invited my brother and me to follow him. We went through the kitchen, through the living room with the old kerosene stove into the parlor. Remember when houses had parlors? Oh well, showing my age again. Wow, he was headed for the Christmas tree. All right, presents. Bummer, he passed the tree and went to the window. When he pulled back the curtain, there in our front yard was Roxy our gentle mare and a tiny spotted foal. This wobbly little filly had arrived on Christmas morning. We named our little present, Daisy. Where on earth we arrived at the name Daisy for a blue roan and white spotted horse is still a mystery. Daisy immediately became my favorite Christmas present that year.
Some gifts you plan and some just appear for you at the perfect time.
The gift of not only new life but a pet for Christmas highlighted everything that day. Freedom remains one of our dearest treasures, but a new baby filly ranks pretty high on the list. After all, she even made a tough old German smile and that takes some doing. Merry Christmas, Daisy.
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