WATFORD CITY -- If I could fill my page with words to make up an ending to each season that has given us her all — glorious orange sunsets and wildflower purple and the deep, dark blue of the rain — I would give the wind a voice.
And his voice would be deep and coarse as he reminisced about the way the grass bent beneath him as he worked to push the storms through the buttes and over the prairies. He would tell us how he worried it might dry up, or maybe how he thought the big banks of snow might never disappear and he would cry about the flames he can’t keep from rising, and he would declare, “It has to be, it has to be, just like I must take the leaves from your trees.”
And then he would laugh a big laugh at the way our hair stands on end when he comes around and how we lean into him out here. If I wrote the book, I’d make the wind tell us.
If I could paint the most beautiful cooldown, I would splash the canvas with gold and rich pinks and burgundy hues. I would use my soft brush to give the sky more clouds, thousands of clouds, for the sun to reflect her light and choreograph her show. And I would paint her glow on horses’ backs and splash her down between the shadows of the trees where the deer go to water.
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And next to the barn, the cats would bask in the light — the light I would make live forever if I could, or at least to live on that canvas in the space between day and night, sun and storm, warm and cold...
If I could paint the cooldown, I would use all of my brushes. And if I were to sing an encore for the season’s end, I would put the chorus on the wings of the geese so as they catch the wind and touch those clouds, it would ring familiar and in harmony with the croak of the frogs taking a breath in the creek bed to "ooh" and "aah" along.
And then, the wild elk bedded down in the tall yellow grass would throw their heads back and bugle a sad song of goodbye, the crickets would hush and the coyotes would take to the hilltops. The kittens would purr softly, the mice would hold still already and the cattle would stop their chewing to hear as the verses moved from the crocus to long days and onto cool rain and the smell of snow coming…
And then, the song would swell and blend with the howling dogs in the yard and the last screech of the red-tailed hawk as the bridge pushed through to the sound of the geese fading out, heading south.
And in their place would be only the sounds of winter.
And a palette of blues and grays, a familiar wind to remind us and a new quiet chorus repeating.