There was a muddy hill that led to the creek bottom.
My dad drove the old truck to check on cattle, crops, or the creek. He like to check on things. Part of it was his job. Part of it was the simple enjoyment of seeing how things grew and changed. He liked and appreciated nature.
The road that led to the bottom is no longer used, but it was the only option before the wooded hills were cleared.
That road got muddy.
That’s an understatement.
Getting down it wasn’t too much of a challenge, although I could often feel the truck slipping and sliding as if we were a clumsy skier trying to balance on an icy incline. Coming up was a completely different story.
We’d have to get some momentum from where the road turned to directly face the hill. Then my dad would give that old truck as much acceleration as he could. We’d start up the hill, and gravity would begin to slow us. Combined with the lack of traction in the mud, we’d gradually lose momentum until dad knew we couldn’t reach the top. So, we’d slide backward, ready ourselves again, and go for it.
There were times I’d lose count at how many times we’d attempt to climb that hill. I’d get confused in my excitement and nervousness. Sometimes we’d slide to one side or the other, and I’d wonder if this would be the time we’d crash into a tree or have to climb up the hill and back home on our own.
As far as I remember, neither of those things ever happened.
Somehow, we always reached the top eventually. Dad would figure out where he was most likely to slide, then try a slightly different approach. He knew where he needed to accelerate, and where he needed to let up on the gas. He learned every time even though the hill and mud and water changed a bit.
No matter how much mud there is, how slippery our path is, how many times we have to start again, we can learn. We can try again. We can hope.