|Daddy on Heinrich. |
(With my eldest sister who doesn't appear in this story...)
The Stringam ranch covered a lot of ground.
Going out to check the cows was an event.
Usually requiring hours. If not a whole day.
And prairie weather is—ummm---let’s go with capricious.
It sounds a whole lot better than unpredictable. Or just downright volatile.
On to my story . . .
Daddy had gone to ride through the herd, checking that no one was AWOL.
Or dead. It was nature, after all.
It had been a beautiful day when he left. With no weather channel or satellite imaging, there was no way of knowing that this could change. Dramatically.
About five miles from the ranch, a storm blew up.
Now you have to know that the prairies are known for their endless stretches of grasses.
And notable absence of trees.
When a storm starts, it can get a really good run.
In a matter of seconds, one can go from happily basking in the winter sunlight to being mercilessly buffeted by cutting winds and blinding snow.
That’s what happened here.
Daddy’s world was instantly blotted out.
No landmarks. No solar guide.
Up and down were even difficult to differentiate.
Daddy stopped his horse. There was only one thing left to do.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “There are no atheists in foxholes”?
Well that would apply equally to ranchers stuck in snowstorms.
Daddy needed to pray.
Then he waited.
All at once, he felt the distinct impression to let go of the reins.
Yep. Cross them over the horse’s neck and leave them there.
I expect you realize that this is a tall order for a rancher. You let go of the reins, you lose control of the situation.
Again, the impression came.
Sighing, Daddy did as he felt impressed to do. Then hunkered down in his coat and tried to pretend he was somewhere warm and sunny.
The horse started to walk.
Slowly. And steadily.
Occasionally, Daddy would poke his head out to stare at the great featureless wall of snow that hemmed he and his horse on every side.
Then, as his mount kept moving, he would slide back into the comparative warmth of his coat and start praying again.
All at once, the storm seemed to lessen. Daddy frowned. Yes. There was a definite break in the wind.
The horse stopped moving.
Daddy poked his head out.
They were standing in front of the barn.
I believe in answered prayers.
And in the Guardian Angels sent to our aid.
They appear in all sorts of ways.
Sometimes with four legs and a mane and tail.