The sound of my old Ford almost drown out the radio as I rattled down the dirt roads that wound away from my home in Cheyenne, W.Y. To the ranch on the outskirts of Grover, CO.
I had my two cow-dogs riding next to me, both abnormally observant, intently looking out every window of the old ranch truck. We were on our way to spend the weekend at my boyfriend's for the first time since we had begun dating.
After a little over an hour drive, the small two lane dirt road finally dropped down into the meadow and the white two story farm house came into view. It was surrounded by tall bonny trees and looked like something straight out of a horror flick. Even the moans of an old rusted windmill added to the already spooky setting.
As quickly as the chill had hit me when I hopped out of my pickup, it disappeared as I ushered my dogs and self into the kitchen where my boyfriend and his friends were playing cards and eating supper. The evening was absolutely wonderful.
After the last of our friends had left, we finally made our way to bed. I was exhausted but couldn't shake the feeling I was being watched. I was sound asleep when suddenly my little Border Aussie mix awoke me with three loud barks. I barely half heartedly yelled across to her to lie down and go back to sleep. She lay down and stopped barking but continued to growl lowly.
My boyfriend slept through the whole thing, and I myself fell back asleep only to find myself in an odd dream. I dreamt I walked out of the bedroom, into the living room, and saw an older man sitting in a chair. He was a large man, but the evidence of an illness was etched into his body. His eyes were deep and sullen... Hands calloused, his clothes, although not high dollar, were neatly pressed as those of an early cattleman. He looked at me, expressionless.
I awoke the next day and couldn't shake the odd dream. My boyfriend and I were out doing morning chores when I asked him who had lived in the house before. He explained it had been his grandfather's and that he had passed quite a few years earlier from cancer, in his chair in the living room. The same blue chair he had sat in my dream.
In wide eyed excitement I explained my dream to him in detail only to be met by a simple shrug of the shoulder and short reply "He's still around to keep an eye on the place".
The next few months were filled with odd happenings, noises, shadows, things moving from one place to the other, and my reoccurring dream. The dogs eventually stopped growling and barking and all was chalked up to Grandpa "keeping an eye on things".
For any that have ever been to the Pawnee Grasslands in Northeaster Colorado, I'm sure many have felt the sorrow, the oppression, but the hope and glory of the countless men and women who have fought the barren land for survival. For some, it is a dream to leave the vastness of the bluffs, but for others, like Grandpa, it's a land that enslaves the soul with its rugged beauty and history. As I look across the corrals to the vast meadows and beyond to the Pawnee Bluffs as they paint a pastel mid-west sunset, I can't blame Grandpa for wanting to stay around.