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Steamboat Magazine

Stories from Home

11/24/2020 11:37AM ● By Rachel Miller

A Routt County local takes a stroll beside Twenty Mile Road in the first snowstorm of fall.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS- During the height of the COVID quarantine, Bud Werner Memorial Library hosted a creative writing contest titled “Stories from Home,” with the winners being selected for the library’s Short Story Dispenser. Entries captured the struggles, the oddities and the unexpected silver linings of life in quarantine. Steamboat Magazine selected the following pieces from the contest. 

“Calving Season” 


I wake with a fear-jolt, but of course it’s three minutes before the alarm. I told Ty I’d take the two o’clock check, and there he is beside me, sleeping hard. Truth is, I find myself waking up anyway when it’s his turn, so might as well let him sleep. Maybe none of the heifers are calving, and I can crawl right back into bed for a few more hours. 

The dog follows me to the back door and puts her nose to the glass to be let out. “You wait,” I tell her, pulling on muck boots and Ty’s coat, a wool hat over bed-tangled hair. When I open the door, she trots ahead of me toward the shed in the dark. 

It’s not too cold, and I say a little ‘thank goodness’ for that. We worry most about a freeze at night, since a newborn calf can get a chill. As I cut across the property, I’m thinking about everything that needs doing as we come into springtime, the mud sucking at my boots in the field. 

There’s something about the ranch at two o’clock in the morning. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite time of day, but in the still and quiet, I start to remember why we do this in the first place. It’s a bright moon, and I can see the shapes of my hills where the light hits what’s left of the snow. 

In the shed, I tug the pull-chain for the light. “Hi Mama,” I whisper to the heifer. She knows why I’m here, and she turns so I can see two hooves poking out under her tail. Returning to my warm bed becomes a fading dream. 

“All right, Mama, I’m here,” I tell her, hoping for an easy birth. It flashes in my head: What if we need a neighbor or a vet? Can we call? We’re in the middle of a crisis but try telling that to a cow. 

When the calf drops on the hay, I feel the heart-swell of a new mama’s pride. She licks him and nudges him to stand. Life and death brush close here, and there’s no time to think except about the work ahead: feed and water, tag, sort the calves. They talk about quarantine like the cows will wait. I say, quarantine? What quarantine? It’s calving season. 

“Things I Took for Granted” 


The magic of a crowded dive bar 

Driving through the loop for school drop-off 

and watching my sons walk into school with their peers 

The resort packed on powder days 

Free concerts with the whole town 

Lines to get into restaurants 

Having a babysitter 

Seeing my parents 

Sidewalk sales 

Soaking in the hot springs 

Extra-curricular activities 

Lysol wipes on fully stocked shelves 

Sending in birthday treats 

Birthday parties 

Any parties 

Margaritas with friends 

Volunteering in the classroom 

Real classrooms 

Manicures and pedicures 



Hell, dentist appointments 

Gatherings of more than five people 

Where hugs are allowed