“You may have experienced a glistening morning with dew dripping from the tree leaves, sparkling on the grass, and sunlight glinting off each precious drop, but until you’ve witnessed a morning in southeastern Colorado, you’ve never been inspired.” I remembered the discussion and the quote as I arose shortly before the first lights of dawn fingered their way across a clear sky this morning.
My grandmother was telling about their arrival in Colorado on the first day of April, 1916. With the wagon parked outside the dug out grandpa had helped build the summer before, they’d arrived after dark the night before. There was no lush green grass to greet them, it was early spring, the prairie was still gray from winter and the nights were still cold.
Inside the dugout grandpa had built a fire in the stove and invited the family in from the covered wagon, only to be met by my great grandmother’s refusal to go ‘down in that hole in the ground’. She wasn’t impressed by the half dug out that proposed to be their home, five steps down below the prairie floor. Nor was she impressed a few hours later by the wolves howling around the wagon where she slept alone, grandpa waiting at the entrance to the dug out where he and the kids were safe.
Even today, I can imagine the conversation as it might have been.
“George Walter? Do you hear those wolves? You brought me here to the middle of nowhere and we’ll be eaten by wolves before the morning.” Effie might have said, straining to see in the darkness.
“I’m here, Effie.” George Walter Venn might have answered, raising his gun to the air to shoot, intending to scare the wolves back from the wagon. “I’ll send them away, stay low.”
The riffle would fire into the night and the wolves would leave. Effie, with the help of her loving, attentive husband would step over the railing, come down the wheel from the wagon, and safely walk into the home he’d provided. With the wooden door closed against the beasts of the night, Effie probably curled beside him on the feather tic to sleep the rest of the night away.
“It’s a magnificent morning!” I can hear grandpa opening the door to the early morning dawn. “There’s snow on the prairie and deer in the front yard. This is a lovely place to live.” His announcement probably brought most of the eleven children from their beds to see snow on the prairie. “April Fools!” His announcement rang for nearly sixty years, every April First grandma remembered.
While I may not even agree with grandpa’s proclaimation about mornings on the prairie, there’s one thing I do agree with, ever day of my life…
“It’s a magnificent morning!”