What’s Next? Cow Tipping?

6 11 2011
Don and I, riding off into the sunset together on one big ‘ol red tractor! Photo by Kevin Finch.

It was a glorious weekend. Friday night was movie night at the Neilson household. It was Theo’s turn to pick. He chose Rio. Love the vivid colors in that film. He also told me that next Friday night, it’s my turn! I don’t know how the kid keeps track of these things, but I’ll take it! Hmm…wonder what I’ll pick? Whatever it is, it has to be “kid appropriate,” as Theo would say.

Saturday afternoon was lunch at the home of Theo’s best friend and classmate, Kai. Theo and Kai are an amazing pair and I believe that wherever life takes them, the bond they have formed in the past year is one that will stay with them forever. I am blessed to have friendships like that and they are a treasure.

Kai’s Mom, Miho, very carefully chose the menu around my new diet — and the food she prepared was downright amazing! Who knew I could eat so well on this new plan? Pumpkin soup made with coconut milk, arugula salad with pumpkin seeds, marinated flank steak, pears sauteed in red wine. It was pure heaven — not to mention the best meal I’ve had since I started the anti-cancer diet prescribed by Dr. Waldo and dietician Jodi Smith. And it was all “legal!”

Late yesterday afternoon and evening was the Crown Jewel of the weekend. We drove out to Saline — destination: acres of beautiful farmland dotted in the fire engine reds, sunny yellows, forest greens of dozens of old-fashioned, mint-condition tractors as they roamed the fields. The land is owned by a close friend and Saturday was the day she deemed as a “Last Hurrah” of sorts, as she will be moving come Spring. Dozens of family and friends showed up for this one last chance to ride her collection of antique tractors — with a few four wheelers thrown in for good measure.

There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than the nip of a November day, when the rays of abundant sunshine seem to find their way underneath your layers of clothing, and nestle in against your skin, warm and cozy, against a backdrop that beckons you to take a step into nature, then another, then another. Woods, a stream, acres of amber fields, some flat, some gently curved. Fields where the weeds have grown high, others that used to turn out beautiful orange pumpkins at autumn’s pinnacle.

Don took me for a ride on Big Red. We road up through the hills and back down and around again, past the old tire swing, the barn, a cornfield. Together, we imagined what the farmer who used to ride this tractor might have been like, what he had used this machine for, how many hours in a day he spent at the wheel. We road in silence for a little while, then I turned to Don and said, “Is it just me, or does this ride make you feel like cow tipping later on?”

We watched the sun set behind the trees in a mixture of golds and red-hot oranges that set the scene ablaze. I breathed in the smell of the wood burning in the bonfire pit, and laughed as I watched the kids trying to assemble s’mores out of the sticky marshmallows they’d just taken off the flames, the white goo spreading between their fingers like a spider’s web.

It couldn’t have been more perfect — the setting, the weather, the close friends, the sights and scents and sounds. It was the kind of magic that seems to appear every now and again in our lives, spontaneously, as if someone from above had decided to sprinkle pixie dust all over and around us.

It was pixie dust that I really needed right then and there. Last week was trying. The test results, good. The word of “chemo forever” downright terrifying, heart-wrenching, feelings of desperation and defeat washing over me and through me, bringing me to my knees with wracking sobs that came from somewhere deep within.

But moments like the ones I experienced last night, well, they are the ones that remind me of just how big the universe is, of the endless possibilities that it encompasses in a word we know as Hope. Hope that indeed, all things are possible and that the only One who truly knows how my story will play out — the Great Physician — is the only one who needs to.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

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11 responses

6 11 2011
kiapet51

I am so glad that you get to spend weekends like this with your boys. After the “news” from last week you really deserved this special weekend. We need to come up with a time to get together. I am free almost all of the time and I know you are on a tight schedule, so you need to contact me. Maybe we can get together with Miss Wolf, since I have not had a chance to see her yet either.

6 11 2011
Laura Kasischke

This is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Thank you.

6 11 2011
Debbie V

Amy, your weekend sounds so beautiful, I can just imagine the beautiful surroundings. Keep having those amazing weekends with your loved ones.

6 11 2011
Maureen

Cow tipping. I can actually HEAR you say that to Don. What a hoot.

6 11 2011
Dawn

Amy, as I read your words and try to imagine myself in your shoes…to try to comprehend a bit of what you must be going through, believe it or not a bit of “envy” creeps in…yes envy. Why? Because no matter what happens in the future for you, for me, for any of us – you know what it’s really like to live in the moment and live every day to the fullest as if it was your last. Imagine, you live another 30+ years that way. No one cancer free or not knows when his or her last day will be. And yet, in this moment, in this life, in the here and now, you notice things, appreciate things and REALLY live in the moment as if it might be your last – soaking it all in and loving it – not taking it for granted. There is a good chance (I am chooing to believe) that you will have many more years on this earth – and look how “well” all of this has truly caused you to “live” – to sincerely appreciate and love life. Your writings really motivate me in my own life. Keep writing them! They are truly uplifting for us all! Not sure how you feel about that “silver lining” to what you are going through – but you are a blessing to all of the lives you have touched.
Glad to hear you had such a fabulous weekend…you deserve it! 🙂

6 11 2011
Maija Kibens

Awesome, Amy. To be read by anyone who is wondering either what a perfect Midwest autumn day is like or what a life lived perfectly in full appreciation is like. Love it!

6 11 2011
Lori

Great read Aimers – Sounds like a grand fun time.

7 11 2011
Mark Robertson

Welcome to the cow-tipping club! You’ve been reading some of our column archives on investing and cow tipping, right? LOL

7 11 2011
crystal

you give me chills, amy. thanks for sharing that your spirits were lifted by the “fall.” thinking of you.

7 11 2011
Bob

Dawn said it all in her response today – another great writer?

7 11 2011
Ken and Gay

AMEN to all of the above and to the beautiful pictures you painted for all of us of your families Indian Summer day in the country!! Breath deep and bask in the glory of our earthly home!! Thank you dear Lord for the beauty that lies all around us each and every day!

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