Running in the lush green meadow and feeling the breeze blowing through her hair, Jenny could not feel luckier for being alive. Her bare feet felt the coolness of the grass as she ran in the breeze, relishing the wind as it softly touched her cheeks and sifted through her golden blond hair.
Off in the distance, Jenny saw Kayla waving to her and motioning that it was time to come home. Supper was ready. She quickly pulled her hair into a loose bun, securing it with a silver comb before slipping on her shoes. She slowly picked up the book that she had been reading before she'd had the urge to run and dance in the field.
She regretted leaving her place of solitude where she could read, meditate, and feel the tranquility of nature; where her dreams were created and future goals were formed in her mind.
Jenny was a beautiful young woman with hair the color of wheat and large blue eyes that were the color of Bear Lake. She was nearly twenty years old and had fine and delicate features, giving her a look of youthful innocence.
Tucking the book under her arm, she took off toward home. She had a natural grace about her. Her mother had stressed the importance of grace and poise at an early age, probably because she had been such a tomboy in her youth.
She knew that everyone was waiting for her at the dinner table. She rushed through the door, dropped her book on the cabinet, and ran to get washed up. After scrubbing up and feeling refreshed again, Jenny brushed her long wavy tresses, pulled them back with a ribbon and tied it. She smiled at herself in the mirror, and then rushed to the table.
Gilbert and Melinda's home was a comfortable place. The living room and kitchen were situated in one large room with the kitchen and dining room on one side and the living room on the other. There was a sofa and an overstuffed chair that faced a rock fireplace.
Melinda looked into Jenny's large blue eyes and said, "Jenny, you seem to lose track of time whenever you go to the meadow and read."
She knew how much Jenny loved reading and readily encouraged it. Melinda was Jenny's stepmother, having married Gilbert eleven years before, just before Jenny's ninth birthday. Melinda loved and adored her new stepdaughter, and Jenny had responded readily to her affection. It did not take long until Jenny started to confide in Melinda when her father was not available.
Gilbert constantly worried about Jenny and was very protective of her. He had taught her how to ride and take care of her horse. He taught her how to shoot a rifle at a very young age and she was quite the marksman. She used to help her father with the chores while growing up, but after she turned sixteen, she was considered a young woman and was not expected to help with the rounding up of the cattle any longer.
Gilbert and Melinda had two more children after their marriage. John, at ten years old, had dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. He had a quiet demeanor and loved reading and school. He was the spitting image of his father and Gilbert beamed with pride whenever the townsfolk would mention it.
Kayla's personality, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. Her full name was Makayla, but it seemed like a big name for such a little girl. She had strawberry-blond hair and golden brown eyes. She was a very active little four-year-old with a vivid imagination. Melinda could barely keep up with her. She was a pretty little imp with a dimple in both cheeks. If anyone suspected her of being spoiled, they were probably right. Her father was the worst of them when it came to spoiling his little girl.
Gilbert walked in from washing up and sat at the table. He had neatly combed his hair and refreshed himself from the work of the day. He smiled at Jenny, folded his arms, bowed his head, and gave the blessing on the food.
As they began passing dishes around, Kayla looked up at Jenny and asked inquisitively, "What do you do out there in the meadow, Jenny?"
"I dream, I read, and I meditate."
"What is meditate?"
Gilbert answered, "To meditate is to think or reflect on one's life. Sometimes we plan our lives out that way, Kayla."
"O-o-oh. What do you meditate about, Jenny?" Kayla asked with curiosity, as she stuffed a small piece of potato in her mouth.
Melinda tapped Kayla on the shoulder and said, "Please swallow before talking, Kayla. I'm not sure if we want to see your masticated food."
Kayla's eyes widened. "Mas-cated? What's that mean?"
Gilbert chuckled warmly and then explained, "Sweetheart, masticated means already chewed up stuff such as food. Do you understand?"
It was so hard for Gilbert to not burst out laughing as he looked up at Melinda, taking delight in their little daughter's innocence.
"O-o-oh." Kayla swallowed and asked once again, "Jenny, What do you meditate about?"
"When I read my books, it describes all the wonders in the world and places I've never seen before. So, I dream about what it would be like to live there or even to visit. For example, what would Paris, France be like compared to our home here in Paris, Idaho? Are the mountains as rugged as our Rocky Mountains or are they smooth and rounded hills? What are the people like? Are the men more romantic than Americans? And what would it be like to see the ocean or ride on a ship?"
Jenny knew that Kayla had never thought of such things, and the idea was perplexing to her. This was Kayla's home and this was where love and security abounded. Many times, Kayla had asked Jenny why she wanted to leave this little valley.
Kayla sat quiet for a moment and then smiled. "Will brought some eggs by today. He asked about you, Jenny."
Jenny hadn't met Will yet. She had been away at college since his arrival, but she heard a lot about him from Kayla. She had told her how nice he was and how he would give her a treat whenever he dropped by. In fact, Kayla had been teasing Jenny about him and told her that he wanted to meet her.
Kayla swallowed the last bite of her potato, gulped down her milk, and then politely asked, "May I be excused, please?"
John looked at his mother. "Me, too?"
Melinda nodded, and out the door Kayla dashed with John following close behind.
Like most mothers, Melinda was interested in Jenny's future happiness and well being. She noticed that Jenny had been quite restless since arriving home from college. She wanted Jenny to settle down in this little valley and live among the Rocky Mountains. She would miss Jenny terribly if she married and moved away, so Melinda had begun to notice all the available young men in town. If she could interest Jenny in one of them, then maybe she wouldn't use her wings and fly away to another part of the land.
Melinda looked at Jenny and smiled. "Will is a very nice young man, Jenny. He moved here a few months ago. I understand he has a small farm of his own and makes a nice living by selling eggs and milk. He's growing corn, wheat, and hay to sell, too. Some of the women told me that he cooks quite well for a bachelor and he's only twenty-four years old. He's a nice looking young man, too. He knows recipes I've never heard of before. He's traveled quite a bit because his parents have money. But for some reason he has refused any financial help and wants to make it on his own."
Jenny knew what her mother was doing and she grinned. Trying to stifle a giggle, she asked, "Are you going to be a match-maker just like Aunt Martha, Mama? Does it run in the family?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," she answered in an innocent tone, feeling a little indignant at the same time.
Gilbert burst out laughing. "You even have the same innocent tone as Martha does, Melinda. You've even perfected that."
Melinda concealed a smile, stood up quickly and began clearing the plates, ignoring her tormentors. As she poured water into the sink, Gilbert continued laughing. His teasing laughter was beginning to annoy and frustrate her. She just wanted to help Jenny find a suitable mate, and her husband was making fun of her.
Gilbert saw that she looked quite annoyed with him because he had laughed at her intentions. He knew she didn't like being made fun of. After Jenny had excused herself, he walked up from behind her, slid his hands around her waist, hugged her tenderly and kissed the back of her neck a few times. That did it!
Melinda's irritation subsided. She dried her hands, turned around and looked up into his eyes. "I don't want Jenny to leave us. We're a family. She's restless and I can see that she wants to leave. I don't want her to go, Sweetie."
"I know, Melinda. And I feel the same way, but she needs to make that decision herself. Look at you and what you did. When your parents told you to not leave Boston and come out West, did you listen to them?" Gilbert slowly shook his head and grinned. "No, because you needed to come out here and find me. Right?"
As Gilbert studied her face, he gazed warmly into her eyes. Melinda knew their love was stronger now than the first day they were married, and to be encircled in his arms brought her the utmost joy. Sure, they had their disagreements like any other couple, but they always talked things out. It was a rule they both had agreed upon the first day of their marriage.
Gilbert looked into Melinda's face and she saw the warm glow of love in his eyes. He gently pulled her close and gave her a tender kiss that warmed her heart right down to the tips of her toes. His kisses still held their old magic.
That evening, after the dishes were done and the kitchen was cleaned up, the Roberts family sat in the living room to read a book or play a game. Gilbert was comfortably seated in his favorite overstuffed chair, quietly reading. This chair was "his" and everyone knew it. Therefore, no one dared to sit in Gilbert's chair or they were promptly kicked out.
While everyone was busy, Jenny went outside to sit on the porch so she could think for a while. She noticed how bright the stars were and how golden the moon was. She always appreciated the beauty of the world around her, which others took for granted. She enjoyed watching simple things in life, like a sunset or a rainbow. These to her were some of the most marvelous creations in the world. She noticed each evening the sunset had a different hue that radiated beauty far beyond any manmade creation. These things seemed to have a touch of heavenly origin and it brought an incredible sense of peace to her world.
Being among nature was the only relief she found from the turmoil that was churning deep inside of her. She felt restless and she knew why. She needed to leave her past behind her, but she couldn't seem to do that. She felt sure that leaving home and exploring the world would solve her quandary. To run away seemed much easier than to face her problems or her past.