As a child, I was blessed to have my maternal grandparents live on the same little island in California. Their sweet presence made a positive impact on my life, and I enjoyed spending time with them, especially when I could spend the night.
Early mornings I would wake up and hear my grandparents talking while preparing breakfast. The front door was usually open, and the sounds of birds chirping could often be heard along with the clinking of cups as spoons stirred the mixture of milk and sugar into their morning coffee.
Although they always had all the fixins, I usually only had coffee and toast. When I was younger, I wasn’t big on breakfast. We would visit as we ate, and afterward, I would gather the plates, take them to the pantry and wash the dishes. Grandma’s cottage kitchen had the sink tucked into the pantry. Grandma would clean the kitchen while I did the dishes. Grandpa would leave the cottage, walk down the long driveway, past the larger Victorian home that sat on the front of the property and sit on the rock ledge in the front yard, smoke a cigarette and watch the cars drive along the road.
Sometimes I would help grandma with her garden. On one side of her home, she grew rhubarb. In front on either side of her front porch, strawberries, Johnny Jump Ups, and pansies filled her pint-sized yard. We would visit and share stories, while I pulled weeds. She would often share family stories, and from her, I discovered my love for storytelling. Like her, I wanted my grandchildren to know where their stories began.
My enthusiasm for gardening also came from her. Although I did not have her gardening skills, I have tried my hand at landscaping. My desert garden has witnessed better days. After a gopher invasion, it has forlornly resembled something out of a barren western, and I often have battled tumbleweeds as I try to wrangle my yard back into looking respectful once again. From now on, rock gardens and flower pots filled with pansies and Johnny Jump Ups will only be viewed from my plot of land! No more free meals for rodent freeloaders!
When I chatted with my grandpa, we always talked about horses and life on the ranch. I loved the adventurous romance of it all. We shared that common bond, the desire to live in the country, and a love for horses. I often pleaded with my parents to return to Colorado, but my mama used to tell me that ranch life was tough, and a lot of hard work. She would often smile at my childish pleas and recite the following poem:
I’m not an Eastern beauty.
I’m not a Southern rose.
I’m just a little cowgirl
With freckles on my nose.
Eventually, I made my way back home to Colorado. Today, this cowgirl has happily resided in her favorite Rocky Mountain state. On my own little patch of land, I still live alongside freeloading gophers, but now I have two pups that have chased them from at least the backyard. Still, we share stunning mountain views and spectacular sunsets, and at night the distant city lights and endless stars fill the skies with a magical sparkle. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t get much sweeter than that!