Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As March Winds Blow

She cozied up to her husband as they snuggled into their warm bed.  It was freezing cold outside and they had just come in from bedding down all of the animals.  There was a blizzard forecast and they didn’t want their animals to be caught without food if the blizzard struck as predicted. When they first married Josh used to tease her that she would be out there putting blankets on all the animals if she had her way.  After ten years together, it wasn't as bad as that but all of their animals were always brought into the barn on nights like this.  He was just lucky she limited her concerns to their animals.   She felt bad for all of God’s creatures living in the wild; it took him a while to convince her that Mother Nature had a system that had been working since time began and although we may not like it, she knew what she was doing. As he laid there, taking in her scent, he went back to their beginnings.

Marsha was a city girl, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. They met at college in Boise. She was majoring in education and Josh was taking a couple of courses in Animal Husbandry. They dated off and on during the semester and when the semester was over Josh invited Marsha to spend a couple of weeks at his parents’ ranch in Montana.  She accepted. After two weeks of listening to the stories from Josh’s mother about ranching and the Montana winters, she was convinced this life wasn’t what she envisioned for her future. 

She went home to California for the rest of the summer.  Josh tried contacting her a couple of times but she told him how she felt about ranch life and thought it best to break it off now.  After that she never returned his calls.  That fall she was back in school she ran into a friend of his.  He explained Josh was working on a ranch in Idaho.  Chad asked if she wanted Josh’s number. He said she hemmed and hawed as Chad was writing it on a piece of paper, but he just wrote it down and gave it to her.

A couple of weeks later, she told him she came across the paper in her jacket pocket and decided to call after thinking long and hard about it.  The call went to voice mail so she left a message.  She wondered whether or not he would return the call.

He called back that evening.  They agreed to meet the next day for an early dinner at the local  Applebee’s. She told him she actually had butterflies in her stomach when she opened the door to the restaurant.  He saw her immediately and stood up and walked toward her.  He hugged her and ushered her to the booth he had been occupying. 

“I was so glad to get your message Marsha.  Chad told me you had run into each other and he had given you my number.  As hard as it was, I decided you would have to be the one that called” Josh said.

“ I wasn’t sure I should.  But when it came down to it, I’ve missed you and wanted to see you again” she replied.

After that it was like no time at all had elapsed since last they were together.  He explained he had taken an option to purchase the ranch in Idaho because he was in an experimental animal husbandry program and it was only available here because it was tied to the university. The land was owned by a family friend and the Grannet’s had not ranched in years and only used the house a couple of weeks in the summer. If the program was successful, Phil Grannet would hold the paper until Josh was able to purchase the ranch outright. 

She asked how his dad had taken this news.  He told her that his dad was getting ready to retire and turn over the running of the ranch to the next generation.  He, his dad and his brother Jed had worked out an agreement whereby each brother would be partners in both ranches if Josh decided to stay in Idaho.  Josh thought it was a win-win situation for all concerned.

When Marsha graduated from college the following year, she and Josh married and moved into the ranch house in Idaho.  The first couple of months were a learning experience for both of them. In addition to learning how to live as a couple, Marsha had to learn how to do the normal chores required of a ranch wife.  She had to learn to cook from scratch instead of opening a box or just picking up the phone and ordering in; how to live within a budget while learning to organize a kitchen and pantry so they didn’t run out of important items because the store was 40 miles away. She learned how to do laundry without the luxury of a dryer. But, by far, the hardest thing she learned was to listen to her husband. 

 Josh was used to living in isolated areas. He had the other ranch hands for camaraderie.  Marsha didn’t have that option and she was so lonely.  One day in early October she took the truck into town.  While there she overheard a conversation that the elementary school teacher had just up and quit and they were desperately trying to find a replacement.  She interrupted the conversation and introduced herself and told them she would be interested in applying for the position.  Marsha was given the name and number to call and two hours later she was employed as a teacher for the fourth grade.
It never even occurred to her to talk this over with Josh or that he would object. After all, she was alone all the time anyway and the additional income would be a boon to them. Josh didn’t see it that way and told her to call them and tell them she wouldn’t be accepting the position. 

“I most certainly will not, I’ve already accepted and will not go back on my word” she told him.

He said she had enough responsibilities at home and that with the winter coming up he didn’t like the idea of her commuting eighty miles each day.

“You got along without me here before we were married.  It will just go back to the way it was during the school year and I’ll be home during the summers when things are the busiest”

This argument went round and round until Marsha had enough.  She stomped her foot, turned and walked out of the room.  Josh told her to stop he was not finished.  She told him she was.  He was so worked up he went after her, grabbed her arm and told her if she didn’t call them he would.

  “You wouldn’t dare”.

“Oh but I would.  You are not taking that job”

“Oh, but I am and there is nothing you can do about it”

“I won’t allow you to take the truck” he told her.  “It’s needed here at the ranch”

“Fine, I’ll get my own car, all I have to do is call my parents and they will help me out”

“Marsha, I’ve made my decision.  I will give you until tomorrow morning to call the school and tell them to find someone else.  If you haven’t done so by 10:00, I will be making that call and then I will be taking you upstairs and baring your bottom to give you a good tanning. By the time I’m finished I think you will see things my way.  Do I make myself clear?” he asked.

She looked at him as if he had grown horns. She walked out the door, got in the truck and drove off. She didn’t know where she was going but she knew she had to cool down and think this whole thing over.  Would he really do what he said?  She couldn’t believe he was being so unreasonable.  She was so busy thinking about her dilemma she wasn’t paying attention to the road and all of a sudden she felt a thump, the truck veered to the right and she found herself in a ditch. It was a miserable day and now she was stuck out here.  She could either sit here and wait until someone came along or start walking.  The problem was she hadn’t been paying attention to where she was driving and she didn’t know where she was.  She started crying and couldn’t stop. She must have cried herself to sleep because she woke when she heard a door slam.  At first she was scared but then she recognized the easy gait of the cowboy coming toward her.  He opened the door and pulled her into his arms.

“I was so worried about you, I’ve been driving the roads for an hour.  How did you manage to get way out here”, he asked.

“I don’t know.  I was just angry and needed to calm down and just drove.  Then something happened and I wound up in the ditch.  I didn’t know where I was or what to do” the words just tumbled out and she just started crying all over again.

“It’s okay now.  We’ll worry about the truck in the morning.  When she went to get in the truck, Josh told their dog, Mose, to get in the back.  Mose just sat still.

“I can’t get anyone to listen to me today” Josh said.   “C’mon Mose get in the back now”.

“He can sit up here with us.  It’s too cold for him to get in the back”, Marsha said. Mose must have understood what she said because he laid back down and settled in between them with his head resting on her lap.

“Too cold, he’s a ranch dog, Marsha. He’s tough.”

This wasn't his first encounter with her soft-hearted ideas about animals. They drove back to the house and Mose followed them into the house.  Josh wasn’t in the mood to argue so he just went upstairs and turned on the shower.  Both he and Marsha stayed there until the water began to run cold.  After toweling off, they went into the kitchen to heat some soup for dinner.

The next morning at breakfast Josh handed the phone to Marsha.  She was shaking her head no.

“It’s your choice Marsha.  You know what will happen if you don’t call.”

“Can’t we come to some kind of compromise?  I get so lonely.  You’re gone most of the time and once the chores are done I still have too much time on my hands.  I miss having friends around”

Josh listened and understood but said the idea of her having to travel so far every day bothered him.  He reminded her of what had happened yesterday and that was in good weather.  She had no comeback but still told him she couldn’t make that call.

“Suit yourself, Marsha, but you have until 10:00.

When Josh came back to the house if was sometime after 10:00.  One look at Marsha told him what he needed to know.  He went over and called information for the number to the school.  When he got the principal on the phone he told them he was Marsha Talbot’s husband and she would not be taking the teaching job.  As soon as Marsha heard him dial the phone she went into the bedroom.  She didn’t want to be a witness to the conversation.  She was so embarrassed she didn’t think she would ever show her face in town again.

Some time later she heard his footfalls on the stairs.  He walked into the room and came over to her and took her in his arms.

“You know how much I love you, don’t you”  He released her and saw her head nod.

“I’m sorry you think I’m being pig headed about this, but it’s for the best.  I talked with Mr. Thompkins and explained the situation.  We reached a compromise. Instead of teaching every day you will be listed as a tutor and substitute teacher.  If you’re needed on bad weather days, he will make arrangements for you to travel back and forth on the school bus.

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  She hugged him so hard.

“Thank you so much.  I can’t believe you did this for me.  I am so sorry I was so stubborn.”

“I know you don’t believe it but I only have your well being in mind.  This way we both win but we still have a matter to take care of.  I always keep my word and I know this is going to be hard for both of us”. 

He took her by the hand and led her over to the bed.  He sat down and pulled her over his lap. He pulled down her jeans while he lectured her about her honoring his decisions.  The first smack was almost a caress to her right cheek, then another to her left.  The third smack was a little harder, the fourth one a little harder yet.  By the tenth smack, he had picked up the rhythm and the intensity and by the twentieth smack her bottom was a lovely shade of pink.  He bared her bottom then and the last ten smacks were the hardest yet.  When he was done held her in his lap and rubbed her back and comforted her until her sobs stopped. She buried her head into his chest.

“It’s over now Mrs. Talbot.  We have to go get that truck out of the ditch if you’re going to go to school in the morning for your first day of teaching”.

He never forgot the look on her face and her words to him that morning so long ago.  She thanked him for his love, his understanding, his foregiveness and even for the spanking.

As the winds began to blow, he cuddled her a little closer and thanked God for this woman .