I love winter mornings like this. It’s starting to get light now when I get out of the house, a little light on the horizon toward town. Today there were clouds over, like a big dark cover over everything, but out at the edge, over in the direction of town, a little window between the prairie and the clouds, like a little frame set up around the sunrise. I came out the back door and it just stopped me. At my age, you might think, “Well, it’s just a sunrise.” I’m a little slow catching on to things. I can hear my father say, gently, “Richard, it’s a sunrise. We have work to do.” He always scolded gently. So you knew to get going along, like he was trying to say, but he didn’t have to raise his voice. I never quite managed that with my children. I’d remember that after I’d lost my temper and yelled at them. Still, they came out OK, I think. Sheri is down in Bismarck, working for the state, has two great kids of her own. And Kyle is working for the railroad, the little local line, over in Grand Forks. Neither of them took up farming, so they won’t have to be so poor as their mom and dad.
I’ve got work to do in the barn today. Got to fix a rotor on the seeder. Would have had Vanek do it but his shop is all closed up. I heard he’s over at Prairie Oaks, the old folks home. I never quite understood that. Yeah, he’s getting on, but he was a real young seeming guy. Well, maybe a little lost since his grandson died, that terrible accident. But he can still fix a tractor or a truck like nobody around here. Not sure what happened. I heard he burned himself, burning trash, something like that. I don’t know why you get stuck in the old folks home, just for that, like having an accident burning trash was a crime and so they send you to jail at Prairie Oaks. I guess it’s not jail, but I hope I don’t ever have to go there. I’d rather have an accident on one of my machines that have to sit in one of those places and just stare out the window all day. Yeah, I know farming accidents are terrible, people get all mangled up. But then I’d be dead so I don’t figure it would matter too much how much pain I was in. I don’t think you take the pain with you.
So I came out the back door this morning, got my coffee in one hand and my egg sandwich in the other, which I forgot I was eating as soon as I came out the back door. Saw that sky, that sunrise all framed there in the clouds, and I just stopped. Sat down on the back porch and sipped on my coffee and watched it. The clouds overhead were dark, that deep slate-blue color, but out in the east the clouds were glowing, like embers. I just sat and watched them slowly swirl around, the orange glow mixing around, yellow here, almost a red there, sort of like coals but sort of like, I don’t know, lava swirling, something liquid. It was so good sitting there, just sipping on my coffee, I totally forgot about the egg sandwich I had in my other hand, until my hand started to get a little cold. Wasn’t much wind this morning, just a little gusting out of the northwest from time to time, and I think the temperature was up even in the 20s. Storm is coming in, they’re saying. But after awhile my hand got cold and I looked down and though, Oh yeah, I was eating this sandwich. It was getting pretty cold but I ate it anyway, just so I could sit there longer. It totally changes your morning, just being able to get up and see the sunrise like that. Maybe because it’s February, seeing the sun all blazing, keeps you thinking about Spring coming. It’s still a long way off, but it’s coming, and that keeps you warm. So I just sat there, eating that cold egg sandwich, watching that brilliant sunrise, until I could hear my father’s gentle voice again, “Don’t you have some work to do out in the barn?” So I got up and went.