Life never fails to surprise me. Today I was cleaning the upstairs bedroom when my broom hit something that had fallen halfway between the bed and the wall. Curious, I stood and leaned the broom up against the door and pushed the bed back.
After scooting the bed out far enough to look in, I saw that a small book had fallen between the wall the headboard. I wedged myself in far enough to grab it with the tips of my fingers and then pulled it out.
Turning it over, I was puzzled. I’d never seen anything like it before around the house. I opened it, and a loose page fell out and landed on my lap.
My eyes scanned the heading. April, 1883. The handwriting was Riley’s. That had me curious. I’d never known Riley to have any kind of journal. This entry was longer than I would have expected.
I hesitated about three seconds before deciding that Riley probably wouldn’t care if I read it. Would I care if he read mine? Hmmm . . . Nope!
My eyes scanned the writing before I changed my mind. One little peek . . .
Today was my first day of driving a herd to market. I’m still not sure if this is something I want to spend the rest of my life doing or not. I think I prefer horses. But today something really stuck out to me.
The drive was going well, and we were all in high spirits. We had to cross a stream, and one of the calves got swept away in the current. Its bleating cries for help were pitiful. I couldn't bear to see it drown. I pushed Dakota into the water, trying to keep us away from the strongest part of the current.
When I got as close as I dared to the struggling calf, I tossed my rope around its neck and didn’t waste a minute dragging it up on the opposite shore. My heart was thrumming wondering if I was too late. The little thing just lay there. I pulled off the rope, rubbed the little fella down, and suddenly his head popped up.
He was alive! That’s when I knew that—horses or cattle—the ranching life was for me! I was thrilled when the calf staggered to its feet and went bawling up the riverbank. It wasn’t too much longer until the calf found its mama.
I was glad. It’d be terrible to lose an animal on the first day.
The entry ended there. I smiled and tucked the page back inside. This was obviously something Riley had written when he was younger.
I wanted to read more, but little voice told me to set the book aside for now. When I finished cleaning, I took the journal downstairs. I would ask Riley about it when he came in for supper.
Thankfully, the dusting and sweeping didn't last long, and I headed downstairs to start supper. I fried up the steaks and whipped together some mashed potatoes, feeling quite pleased. This is one meal I’ve mastered, and I can cook it almost to perfection. In fact, it’s one that I can add to the list of meals I now make with competence. Trial and error really are the best ways to excel at something.
By the time I finished cooking and set the table, I could hear Riley on the front porch.
He came in with a smile, washed up, and sat down at the table. After saying grace, I took the book I had set on one of the empty chairs and held it out to him.
His fork, filled with mashed potatoes, stopped halfway to his mouth. When he caught sight of the book, he set it down and grinned. “I see you found my journal.”
He took it from me and turned it over in his hands, much like I’d done. “I got this a while ago. My ma thought it was a good idea if I started jotting down some of my thoughts. She gave it to me on my 15th birthday.”
He opened it, and flipped through the pages. “I kept it with me, but when I couldn’t find it after we moved in, I thought I’d lost the thing.”
I told him how I’d found it in my cleaning, and he nodded. “It was probably in the box I shoved under the bed with a lot of things from my childhood. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone through it.” A faraway look entered his eyes. “It’d be fun to go through it again sometime soon.”
And so the mystery of the book was solved. But it still amazes me to think that we were both given journals, and both of us still have them! I guess it’ll be something fun to pass on to our children someday.