In our Fall Issue we published an excerpt from the poem by Helen Reesor. Here is the poem in its entirety. Enjoy!
The Hillside Ranch
There’s a ranch house on a hillside
Where they lived for many years,
Where they worked and raised a family
It knew their dreams, hopes and fears.
Where they rose early in the morning
Oft’ in the dawn’s grey light,
And planned and toiled and sweated
Through each day ‘till it was night.
Memories of all the things they did
Through the good years and the bad,
How they faced the long cold winters,
Stuck it out—and were glad.
For spring always came, and with it
Came new life and springtime joys,
New leaves, new grass, new calves and colts
And throughout the years, the boys.
Memories that go way back in years
Of which great tales can be told
Of blizzards sweeping o’er the hills,
–Of cattle dying in the cold.
When there was no feed, and the icy wind
Chilled them, and drove them on,
To shelter in brush or coulee
Or to lie dead in the frozen dawn.
Memories of men who toiled for hours,
To care for the poor dumb critters.
It could break their backs as well as hearts.
It was sure no life for quitters!
For the elements are often harsh
In these old Cypress Hills
And a cattleman cares for his stock
Thought he endures heat, pain and chills.
Memories of roundups and brandings
Trailing cattle for miles in the cold,
Oft’ for a price, next to nothing,
When taken to market and sold.
Memories of breaking wild horses
It was all part of ranch work then
Bucking broncs and four horse teams
Separated, the boys from the men.
Memories that bring a smile to your lips
Some that call for a real belly laugh.
The wonders of spring on the prairie
Like the sight of a new born calf—
Oh, things could be so grand and peaceful
As you worked in the sun or the rain
It made you feel so good inside
You forgot all the winter’s pain.
Memories of caring for family and home,
A woman’s work was never done.
In sickness or health, or grieving
O’er the death of an infant son.
Memories of cooking and baking bread
In the old black cookstove’s heat,
Of branding crews, and haying crews
So weary—most asleep on your feet.
Memories of gardens planted and tended,
And those years when it didn’t rain,
You watched them, dry and wilting
–Burn like the hay and grain.
When feed was scarce and prices low
There wasn’t a nickel to spare
But you managed somehow to keep going
And they always “ate three square.”
Memories of visiting neighbours
Trips to town with buggy and team,
Being rich enough, to own a car,
For years, was just a dream.
Memories of friends and loved ones,
Good times that were fun for all,
Of picnics, stampedes and camping
And of dances you can recall.
Memories of schooling and teachers.
Of boys joining the army to fight
In a war far over the ocean—
This somehow didn’t seem right.
But they kept the home place going
And worked just as hard as before
‘Till they turned it over to their sons
At the ending of the war.
I’ve heard that as you grow older,
Good memories blot out the bad.
And I’m wondering—if this be so.
Would you—Dear Mother and Dad,
Turn back the pages of your lives,
Forget the sorrow and pain,
Come back to the ranch on the hillside
And do it all over again?
Lovingly Dedicated to Hazel and Frank Reesor
For it was indeed worthwhile!
Helen Reesor, 1969