Don't Fence Me In


Isn't this the best song?


I used to love visiting my friend Erica down the street because she'd go creek-exploring with me. There was a creek near her house with cool water, tall reeds, and muskrats. Now that I think of it, it was more of drainage ditch, but we didn't care because we didn't know that. All we knew was how good it felt when we kicked off our shoes and let the brown mud seep up between our toes. And how exciting it was when we saw a muskrat dart off into the reeds--right in front of us! The lure of always wanting to explore further and further down the creek. And the sweet tinge of rebelliousness we felt knowing that our moms would sigh and say "How many times do I have to tell you not to play in that gross ditch?!" when we came home for dinner.

I remember laying down one night in the field behind my grandparents' cabin, looking up at the brightest stars I'd ever seen. Wispy mountain grass tickled my face while crickets played songs without words (people-words, that is). I remember being struck with the majesty of the universe, and with the greatness of God.

My grandpa owned an authentic teepee that we slept in sometimes. With musty fur blankets and everything. I always had the hardest time falling asleep in that teepee. I watched the flap opening intently and listened to every sound outside, just waiting for a bear to come roaming in.

We moved into a new house in the foothills. There was a funny little clump of cottonwood trees out in the middle of the prairie below us--my friend Becky called them the Broccoli Trees, because they really did look like a bunch of broccoli out there. Sometimes I walked all the way out to those trees just to sit.

I used to run on an old dirt road near my house. I don't even know what the name of it was. I ran down the Cathy Fromme Prairie Trail for just a bit, hopped a fence, ran up into a neighborhood, down a hill, past some mailboxes, took a left and then--exhale--the pavement ended and miles of soft dirt stretched out before me. There were a few houses scattered along that road, but not many. Sometimes I'd see a car, sometimes not. Most of the time it was just me, dusk, and the sound of my feet on the earth. I loved this road because its undulating hills wound down into a valley surrounded by rocky cliffs. At the end of the road was a pasture full of horses. Before turning around to run home, I would stand on the pasture's old wooden fence for a while, trying to persuade a horse to come over so I could touch it.

Sometimes a horse would come, sometimes not. Sometimes I waited for a long time on that fence.


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