One evening last week, when I was going out west for my nightly walk along a dirt road, I saw something I'd never seen before. I arrived at the railroad crossing just in time to see the tail end of a train carrying military equipment heading south. It was quite a sight. Several evenings later I was heading back to town and saw another train carrying more of the same vehicles. I raced (obeying all traffic signs, of course) through town and managed to arrive at the crossing by Farmer's Trucking just before the train did. I was the lone observer, as all sorts of military vehicles slowly paraded in front of me. There were small and huge Humvee's. There were big and little Jeeps, some equipped with satellite dishes. There were ragtag trucks. There were “deuce-and-a-halfs”. There were ditch diggers and trucks with canvas flaps. Several looked like they were equipped to be rocket launchers. Most were desert tan, but a few were green, and there must have been over a hundred of them. They weren't new vehicles, but they were clean. And for some reason, I had such an urge to either stand at attention, or salute, these unmanned vehicles as they passed before my eyes. But I didn't. I just watched in solemn stillness. I could only imagine the men and women whose hands had gripped those steering wheels, or who had climbed into them or jumped from them in their pursuit of freedom for a distant country. Seeing these silent reminders of war wind their way south along the rails - returning from or going to who knows where - I was filled with a sense of awe and a feeling of sadness at the same time. And now when I hear the whistle of a train during the day or in the middle of the night, I no longer think of boxes filled with coal. Instead, I think about a stretch of hot desert and those same vehicles, filled with our soldiers, charging into harm's way. May God be with them.
For about forty-eight hours last week I was seriously thinking about moving to Texas and going to work for a newspaper. During that time of decision-making I had a guy tell me, “You really should, because there's nothing here for you!” Hmmm…was he right? I mulled his sentiment over on my sojourn to the country that evening and decided his assumption was incorrect. Even with its various drawbacks, Cimarron County remains dear to my heart and there is much for me here. Open skies, friendly people, family, freedom from crime, and a sense of peace and safety are a few of the benefits of living in this little town on the prairie. And these pluses multiplied when I received an email from my cousin living in Houston . Out here we carry a gun to kill the occasional rattlesnake…down there, they carry a gun to defend themselves from fellow Houstonians bent on invading their home. So I think I'll just count my blessings and stay put for now.
Her name was Pepsi, and she was quite a girl - a girl dog, that is. Small in stature, large in eyes and ears, she ruled the house and ruled my heart. She also suffered from a perpetual “bad hair” day. If you were approved, Pepsi had only devotion and unconditional love to dispense. Her greetings were joyful and playful, and she was most content when she could curl up beside those she loved best. It has been exactly a year since her tiny paws walked upon this earth, and I miss her presence in my life. But in my heart and memory, she still travels beside me. Yes, her name was Pepsi - and she was no Coca-Cola girl!
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