Stories from Home11/24/2020 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.
| BY JAMIE LYNNE BURGESS
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”
| BY JEN SUMMERS
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
Soaking in the hot springs
Lysol wipes on fully stocked shelves
Sending in birthday treats
Margaritas with friends
Volunteering in the classroom
Manicures and pedicures
Hell, dentist appointments
Gatherings of more than five people
Where hugs are allowed