Long-distance love

My cell phone rings and I glance down at the screen. It’s Dad, and I know just where he is: standing near his irrigation pump, waiting for his water truck tank to fill.

Water is often in short supply on his farm and ranch in northwest Kansas. Depending on where his cows are feeding, Dad drives a mile north from his house to the irrigation pump every day during the winter, and occasionally throughout the rest of the year.

Long DIstance Love It’s been more than 15 years since I lived on the farm, but back then, Dad spent all afternoon filling his water truck from the faucet out by the barn. More than a few times we forgot to turn off the water and ended up with a mud puddle the size of a small swimming pool.

But now he’s rigged up the irrigation pump to fill his two tanks in just 15 minutes. What better way to spend this time than by catching up with his daughter?

Like I’m back home

Hundreds of miles separate us. Three years ago, my husband and I moved our family to the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, a far cry from the plains of Kansas. Those phone calls from Dad keep me connected, and for a few brief moments I’m back on the family farm.

I can see the hay bales sprawled across the field. I can feel the wind tugging at my hair, kicking up dust devils and sending tumbleweeds bouncing across the road. I hear the meadowlarks calling and smell the buffalo grass.

There’s the smudge of trees lining the distant Smoky Hill River, which runs only when heavy rains to the west send water downstream. Across the road are the neighbors whose kids I rode the bus to school with each morning.

Long DIstance Love Now all those neighbor kids have grown up and moved on to raise families of their own. A few live on farms like the ones from our childhood, but many have settled in towns and far-off cities. I’m sure for each of them, though, there’s something that calls them back home, even if only in memory.

Moments from the past

Because for me, those calls are about so much more than hearing how my dad’s day is going. They’re about capturing moments I had almost forgotten in all the bustle of family and city life. Though I love where my life has taken me, deep inside a country girl still yearns for blue skies and wide-open spaces.

Cell phones can be more of an intrusion than a blessing, but I’m grateful the signal is strong at Dad’s irrigation pump. It’s just a little thing, but during those few minutes of catching up, the miles fall away and I’m back home, a little girl tagging along next to her father while he does the chores.

So when my cell phone rings and his number pops up, I smile and answer, “How’s the waterin’ goin’, Dad?”

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