My littlest sometimes asks me to get down his "horse's shoes" – a pair that we found in our yard during the regular course of gardening and playing, years ago. Suburban archaeology.
They're heavy and rusty and usually reside on a shelf in his cowboy-themed room, but sometimes he just wants to sit and hold them and talk about what used to be.
He finds it amazing, satisfying, awe-inspiring that there were once longhorn cows here where our house now stands – great horned cows in in an endless scrubby field. There were little houses too, just behind our yard. I know because their Daddy has said that as a boy he use to peek in the windows and even went in a few times. He said there were canned goods, things left on the table, as though the ranch hands had just up and left one day, right after breakfast. They were long gone by the time we dated, but then, and now, I wish I could have seen them – those earnest, brave little houses.
Along with those settlers, there were Cherokee and herds of buffalo – lean brown bodies and great wooly beasts rolling across this land. It is hard to imagine buffalo grazing the hallowed ground where Wal-mart now resides.
My little man and I like to sit in the grass and close our eyes and let the homes and toll roads, office buildings and strip malls just melt away. We like to hold those horseshoes and wonder how they wound up here. Was the barn where our yard is? And what became of that horse and it's rider?
I imagine those shoes dropping, as a ranch hand held a hoof between his knees, brow furrowed in concentration. I imagine the horse's warm breath making trails of smoke in the chilly air has he waits, patiently, for his new shoes.
I think about that day, decades ago when a pair of work-worn boots walked away, leaving in the dust behind them a set of heavy iron horseshoes that someday a small dreamer would hold in reverence.
We sit, us two, and we let the wind take us back to the days when this land was not broken by fences and scarred by asphalt.
Sometimes if we listen hard enough we can smell a campfire and hear the far off sound of hooves pounding, wild across the land.