Some of the happiest and earliest memories I have of my childhood were at Green Jacket, a small farm on the west desert that has been in my family since my great grandfather’s time. I remember the smooth carpeted blue-green rolling hills and the aroma of junipers, rabbit brush, and sage brush.
My fondest memories were the times my father would ask me to come with him to feed the cattle or irrigate the alfalfa fields. At lunch time we would sit under a juniper tree and my father would tell me tales his father had created for him when he was a child. After we were through eating he would build a small fire out of rabbit or sage brush, fashion clay animals, and bake them in the glowing embers. I would spend hours playing with the small animals making corrals and pastures while he finished his chores.
One day, in early spring, my father invited me to come with him and feed the cattle. We drove to the lower pasture in a large old beat-up truck. The truck was larger than a pick-up, but smaller than a diesel, and had a flat bed. It was rusty blue, and the engine would shake and roll the entire truck when left running in neutral.
Upon entering the field my father stopped the truck, turned off the engine, jumped out, climbed onto the back, and threw off a few bales. Scrabbling back in, he started the engine and drove down the field a few yards. Each time the truck stopped the cattle would flock around making it difficult to enter and exit.
I don’t remember how long we had been feeding the cattle when my father stopped the truck, slid out, and this time left the engine running. As the vehicle started to roll over the bumpy filed, I saw a golden opportunity to help. Slipping over to the driver’s seat I raised my little hands to steady the wheel.
At two and a half years and standing on the seat, I could barely see over the dash board. My long brown braids bounced as the struck slowly bumped and rattled over the field. My little chest swelled with pride. I was helping my father!
My father didn’t say a word when he came back to the cab. Displacing me he drove down the field, stopped the truck, turned the engine off, and got out.
My heart sank! He didn’t even acknowledge my help. I could have saved him valuable time. Instead I had to sit on the passenger side and watch the cows. How boring!
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