Joining the ranks of Wild West cowboys
we only knew from books, we moved from
Massachusetts to Colorado as three young sisters
with a fourth on the way. We donned
Cowboy boots, hats, square dance skirts,
and moccasins too. We spoke with a different accent.
A new, yellow Mercury station wagon provided
us views of our town – a modern version of the
buckboard. We were pioneers exploring the
Western territories. The gawky folks asked about
our strange words: roof was ruff; creek was
crick. Teachers marveled our cursive handwriting.
Our Dad chuckled as he told Mom the story about
finishing the kitchen floor in our new abode. Some
strangers walked through the new house in Pueblo’s
Belmont. They mused aloud thinking our Dad was
a construction worker: who would put wallpaper
in a kitchen? Our parents created a
Yankee oasis complete with
antique furniture, built-in shelves for books
and china our mother had selected. Braided rugs
over hardwood floors. New England ladder-back chairs
at the dining room table with extra leaves if we needed to add
them when company came to visit.
We were, after all, explorers from the East.
Our Dad kept an envelope stuffed
with all the misspellings of our last name. It
seems people got stuck on the C in the middle. I
soon learned to tell them it was silent. Our
mother made us Western skirts with rickrack.
In gym class we learned to square dance. At
the State Fair, we attended rodeos and 4-H.
Gene Autry, and Little Annie Oakley came to the
fair. We emerged as butterflies from our cocoons.
We were the Western branches of the tree of
Life. Like Hank, Eleanor, and Ellen, we had
moved West from the East. We were the renegades,
the rebels as the Eastern branch of the family
called us. Maybe that is where my independent
spirit emerged. I was a risk-taker along with
other members of our families. A new branch
grew in Germany, where I moved and studied.
It seemed forever to my parents. Those three
years flew by. I returned to the Western branch
of the family to finish college in Colorado before
embarking on other travels and work to the South
and East. I reminisce all those years spent on
different branches of the same tree.
Now, forever changed, I settle awhile, but
soon a new branch will grow. This time,
one all the way to Prague. A singing branch
to add to the language branches. New growth
and adventures await. This mighty tree continues
forever now. Winding, changing, adding leaves.
Head spinning with memories and music these
days, I continue to smile at all the branches
of this tall tree. Roots running deep in the
Earth support all the new growth. I wonder in
awe at the tree’s transformation from young
Eastern branches to Western branches.