It was after dinner. I announced to the girls that I was heading to the field to irrigate, and that they could go out to play.
"Can I come with you?" Littlest One asked. When I agreed, she disappeared in a flash to change from her party dress and princess crown into more irrigating-appropriate attire.
I headed out the door to fetch my shovel. When she met me at the driveway, she was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, with her little hot pink irrigating boots, kid-sized leather work gloves, and her very own kid-sized shovel. She looked so adorable, I wish I'd had the camera with me at that moment. She slung her shovel up on her shoulder, marched her little muck boots across the lawn, and said, "I'm ready to go!"
And so I joined her, wearing my own boots and leather gloves, and carrying my grown-up sized shovel. I walked along, using the shovel like one might use a hiking stick, trudging along through the knee-high grass. She copied me step for step, through what was waist-high grass for her. When I got tired of swinging the shovel along, I put it across my shoulders. I looked down, and there was my little blonde helper, with her own little shovel propped across her shoulders. She looked up at me and grinned. "Where are we goin'?" she asked.
We got to the first tarp we needed to move. I put my shovel down and stepped on it so it would stand. She promptly put her own shovel down next to mine, stomped on it, and it stood there - her tiny little shovel next to my big one. She watched carefully as I worked the dam out of the ditch. We both laughed at Huck as he chased the run-away water. Then I carried the tarp and my shovel downstream. She watched as I put the tarp in its new position, sending water flowing over the edge of the irrigation ditch to water the pasture below. Then she skipped back to the second tarp and heaved and struggled until the tarp was free. She dragged it to the spot I pointed out, and then set to work trying to get that little shovel to press the plastic into the mud. "Um... I think I need help." So we worked together.
Then we walked down to see how the next set of tarps were doing. The grass got longer. It was up to her elbows, but she didn't complain, she just clomped along with her shovel up over her shoulders.
"Mom, do you get very lonely when you have to come do this by yourself all the time?"
"No... mamas actually enjoy quiet time. Even when they are working. It's nice to have your company, but I don't mind doing it alone, either."
"Well, just in case, I'll make sure I come out here with you every single day so you're never lonely again. Okay?"
Clearly she can't yet fathom the beauty of a quiet hour spent walking through a pasture. But her generosity was quite moving - she was offering to give up an hour of play time to come work in a hay pasture, just so I wouldn't be lonely.
When she asked where we'd water tomorrow, and I explained that we'd have a lot of work to do because we have to really move water around a lot, she vaulted over a big clump of grass and said, "then tomorrow's going to be the best day of my whole life!"
Back we headed to the house, gloved hand in gloved hand, shovels balanced over one shoulder.
I said a desperate, silent prayer for God to please make me the kind of person I want this little girl to be... because she obviously watches every single thing that I do and copies everything down to the last detail. And then I said a little prayer of gratitude, for this amazing little girl that delights so much in work, that thinks of others and is so willing to help.
I am blessed.