Spring has begun in Watford City – InForum

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Welcome to warm up, North Dakota. As I write this, the rain is soaking the grass and I swear it's turning neon green right before my eyes.

We had ten calves yesterday and probably about half a dozen more will be born in the rain. But they won't mind. They will be licked clean by their mothers and kept in the shelter of the tall grass, and they will wait for the sun so they can get up and buck and kick and run, just like us humans, it seems. We wait for the sun to bring us back to life.

When you've lived on a piece of land most of your life, you become part of the rhythm of things. They naturally know when the seasons change and know when to expect longer periods of light.

Spring has arrived at the Veeder Ranch. Gene Veeder stops to visit his granddaughters Ada and Emma in the backyard.

Jessie Veeder / Contribution

Like wild animals, we change with the seasons, no matter how domesticated we become. I know that the first crocus is accompanied by my father, who takes the first horse on a spring ride. And then the first calves arrive and no more dark morning drives to school, followed by later bedtimes…

Last Saturday, after spending as much time outside as possible finding things that needed to be done, I had to make my way inside and take care of dinner. Instead of frozen pizza, I chose a recipe I hadn't made before and regretted every minute of cooking and shredding the chicken.

The task and the warm, quiet evening made it tempting to hand over my adult ID and join the kids outside. They played with their cousins ​​in the playground in the yard, bringing with them toys and dolls that were locked outside the house to get dirty and worn out in the spring sun, sand, and dirt. And I don't mind that kind of thing because there are children outside where they're supposed to be. I wanted to be outside, so I left the sliding door ajar so I could feel the fresh breeze and hear her laugh.

A bouquet of sweet peas, the first flowers to arrive on the prairie in front of the Veeder home near Watford City, North Dakota.

Jessie Veeder / Contribution

All I wanted to do was climb the hills and look for the sweet peas that my father said he had discovered that day. Sometimes the business of my current middle age prevents me from getting there first, but I knew exactly where to find them: follow the two-track path up into the field and, before the gate, detour to the hill at the edge of the tree line . The yellow flowers stand out between the granite rocks. And right after the sweet peas come the bluebells, and after the bluebells the earth comes to life with lady slippers and paintbrushes and prairie roses and wild daisies. Next come the cone flowers. Then, in the heat, the tiger lilies follow, and then the sunflowers come into my garden with the grasshoppers and the ripening tomatoes.

And none of these names we have for the flowers are probably correct. You probably call them something else, but when it comes to wildflowers, names don't matter.

We'll start serving dinner later and later, and now it'll gradually creep up on us until we come in for hot dogs and beans at 10 a.m. in the middle of July. It had already started last weekend when we ate our first bites at 8 p.m.

But I still had time to escape to those granite rocks after helping clear the table. And so I ran a little along the light, the dogs running in front of me, tracking down any mice or ground squirrels in their path, while I sniffed out sweet peas.

It wasn't a long search because there they were, exactly where I found them year after year. In a few more warm days, after this drenching rain, this yellow flower will fill the hillsides, too many to collect in a bouquet, but this evening I picked just a few for the mason jar on my table. Clutching the stems with my left hand, I took a strong drag and headed home to escape the darkness, humming a little welcome song for spring and the simpler dinners to come.


Module photo by Jessie Veeder

Greetings from the ranch in western North Dakota and thanks for reading. If you are interested in more stories and reflections on rural life, its characters, heartbreaks, triumphs, absurdities and what it means to live, love and have parents in the middle of nowhere, check out more of my “Coming Home” below columns. As always, I look forward to hearing from you! Contact us at [email protected].

Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder is a musician and author who lives with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, North Dakota. She blogs at Readers can reach her at [email protected].

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