Growing up on a horse and cattle farm in Northeastern Ohio had a lot of benefits. It taught me the value of life, the sorrow of death, work ethic, and shaped my character. We had a lot of work to do on a place that was about 150 years old. We worked hard, but there were also times where we played hard. I can remember the warm summer days getting up early before the deer flies were bad, saddling up, and going for a ride in the woods. There was a natural road that had been built who knows how long ago that divided the property. Just before it dipped down into a small creek was a left turn toward where you could gallop through a grove of trees. And then it got a little mysterious.
Legend had it that the Indians had tied down those trees making an archway leading to a sacred place (which I imagine were the several mounds in a low area leading down to the creek). The other side of the sacred place led back to the creek. There, my dad had dug out a ramp where he could change truck beds or load livestock. The dirt from that was piled up right beside the creek. We could canter on back to the main road, circle through the woods and come back to the barn, keeping a tight rein on whatever horses we were riding because they always wanted to run like Triple Crown winners back to the barn—another set of stories! That was just one fun ride on the 100 acres if the deer flies weren’t biting too bad.
If that mound of dirt could talk, it would tell a lot of stories. My best friend Sonny and I labeled it the Gold Mine. In Sonny’s own words, “We had many adventures at the gold mine! You were the Lone Ranger. And with all my Indian blood, I was Tonto!! Sometimes we switched and I was the Lone Ranger and you were Roy Rogers! We always shot straight not to kill but capture the bad guys. Justice always won and we got our man. At the end of the day we were hungry, dirty and tired. Your mom would tell us to clean up and get ready for supper. After supper it was time to watch the Green Hornet on TV. Those were good times especially because good always defeated the bad.”
To Sonny and me, it was a place where many adventures took place—sword fights, gun fights, sinister hidden plots that were revealed, bad guys captured, fortunes made. Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, Cheyenne, Matt Dillon and more played out their exploits there in our imaginations. To the naked eye, that high place that overshadowed the creek was just an old pile of dirt. But to us it was a gold mine! Like in Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.” There were many times and secret places on that farm where Sonny and I were thankful for the hidden riches God gave us when we were growing up into the men we would become.