The wind steadily blew this past Thursday afternoon, but it didn't deter two hikers from Pratt in reaching their destination: Kanopolis State Park. Wind swirled through the hills and a cascade of yellowing and green leaves spun to the earth on the drive to the trailhead for Buffalo Track Canyon and Horsethief Canyon. Years ago, [...]

The wind steadily blew this past Thursday afternoon, but it didn't deter two hikers from Pratt in reaching their destination: Kanopolis State Park.
Wind swirled through the hills and a cascade of yellowing and green leaves spun to the earth on the drive to the trailhead for Buffalo Track Canyon and Horsethief Canyon.
Years ago, a dog had joined the two on a similar hike. That had also been a fall day, although earlier in the year, and their four-legged companion had explored this chunk of Kansas paradise, enjoying an idyllic day and all the excitement and peacefulness that this brought. While exploring, the fur of this long-haired Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix had harvested over half a dozen seeds from as many plants, and his owners spent hours and hours on the drive home and even back at home removing them. As tedious as that seed-removal process was back then, today it brings a smile. That was when their dog was with them still.
So they hiked together, at times quietly thinking about, at other times speaking about, their walking and hiking buddy. It was windy, yes, and the sky was just as blue as it was back then, but something was missing this time.
Often, though, God has a way of filling in the empty spaces in our lives.
About a quarter mile from the parking lot, the man noticed another man atop a horse, still, and apparently waiting for the pair to pass. As the duo rounded a corner, the man and his horse appeared in front of the hikers, and greetings were exchanged.
As well, two dogs ran out to greet the couple. 'The one is a Border Collie and the other an Australian Shepherd,' the man on the horse said.
The male hiker told the horseback rider that these were the same two breeds of the dog which the couple had to put to sleep last week. The man on the horse said that he was sorry about that. The man and woman petted the dogs a little longer and then it was time to go. The pair headed for their car, and the man on horseback continued on into the canyon with his dogs in tow.
It was a gift from Kanopolis, yes, but we knew where that gift really came from.