Don’t Sit Back…Make Tracks
By Kylie Lehrer
“Come on Kylie, we gotta go check the cows!” my grandpa said. He was always in a happy mood when it came to his cows.
I’m coming Grandpa!”
I hurried down the stairs to get my winter clothes on. For my five year old self, that was a huge task. Snowpants, boots, jacket, cap, mittens. It was a lot.
When I was finally ready, my grandpa and I walked out the cabin door into the December air. It was bright and sunny, definitely a nice change from yesterday’s blizzard. We walked over to the Arctic Cat snowmobiles, and got ready to go.
“Time to make some tracks!” my grandpa said enthusiastically.
What? Make tracks? We already did. There’s my boot prints in the snow right there.
Throughout my entire life I have always been told by my grandpa to “Make tracks.” It’s one of his signature quotes. As a five year old, I did not understand what that quote actually meant. I figured it meant, go outside, walk around a little, and there ya have it. A track. It was as simple and easy as that. However, leaving a track on the ground is not what my grandpa means when he says, “Make tracks.” Little did I know that it would take me years to figure out the true meaning of that phrase.
“Kylie and Alex, what are you two girls doing?” my grandpa asked my cousin and I. He looked at us in shock.
“What?” we both asked innocently.
“Why are you watching TV?”
That’s what most 10- and 8-year olds do.
“We like this show,” Alex said.
“Well you should be outside playing! Making tracks!”
Here we go again. Make tracks, make tracks, make tracks. As a 10-year old, I had heard this about a million times by now.
“We’ll go outside when the show is over,” I said, hoping that would please my granpa.
“Good! You can helm me wash the tractor. After that you’ll have made some really big tracks!”
Huh? Whatever you say Grandpa, whatever you say.
“Make – to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about.”
“Tracks – footprints or other marks left by an animal, person, or vehicle.”
Looking at the definitions of these two words from Dictionary.com, my 5-year-old mind doesn’t seem so dumb. “Make tracks” does mean to produce footprints. Humans and animals produce footprints, while vehicles leave a different sort of track. My grandpa’s snowmobile leaves a track in all the ditches at his ranch in the winter; four wheelers leave tracks on gravel roads, etc. All of these things leave some sore of a track. That’s not what my grandpa means however when he talks about “making tracks.” He doesn’t mean go out there and make a path. He means something entirely different.
“I need you to help mow today,” my grandpa said to me as he walked into the cabin.
“Sure,” I replied. I actually didn’t mind mowing. And the weather was finally decent for a change. Nice, sunny and no wind. I wouldn’t worry about having little grass bits getting blwin into my eyes, causing me to go blind.
I grabbed my iPod, and headed over to the shop. I backed out the John Deere mower, fueled it up, and I was ready to go.
Listening to my favorite playlist, I went back and forth, and back and forth on the grass. I moved from one area to the next, mowing in as straight of a line as possible because my grandpa expected it. He loved when his lawn looked like a park.
Three hours of jamming out and mowing later, I was done. I cleaned up the mower, fueled it back up for the next person, parked it in the shop, then went back into the cabin.
When my grandpa came in for supper that night, he was all smiles.
“Kylie you sure made tracks today! The yard looks beautiful!”
“Thanks Grandpa,” I replied happily, and smiled. Getting a compliment from him was always an awesome thing.
And then it clicked. Right then and there it made sense. After hearing him say it throughout my life, my 13-year-old mind finally put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Making tracks wasn’t as simple as making a track with your boots in the snow. Yes, you left a track, but what good did it do? All you had to do was walk around. What actually got done?
Making tracks means to do something. Instead of sitting around accomplishing nothing, you need to get up and accomplish something. What good are you doing sitting on the couch watching a television show you’ve already seen? Why not get up and start being productive? You have to forget laziness if you want to make tracks. Also, once you have done something, you will feel good about yourself. You can look back on your work and be proud of it. Just like when I mowed the lawn, or helped my grandpa wash his tractors.
“Make tracks” isn’t just a phrase my grandpa says anymore. For me, it’s become a motto. While I’m in high school, I want to make tracks. I want to be able to say I did something, and in turn I left an impression. Whether it be through my school work or my involvement in activities, I want to say I did something great. I will always have this motto in my mine in the future too, as I believe it is a great motto to have.
It was already 11:00a.m. when I walked into the cabin. I knew what my grandpa would say about that.
“Kylie, you slept half the day away!” my grandpa said immediately.
“Yeah I guess I was tired,” I replied, still slightly groggy.
“Well grab some breakfast,” he said. “Then you and I will go check the herds.”
I followed his orders, and poured a bowl of cereal. I tried to eat quickly because my grandpa doesn’t like waiting.
When I was finished, I put my dishes in the sink, then put my boots and coat on.
“Ready to make some tracks?” my grandpa asked.
I smiled inside. This was now a phrase I loved to hear.
“Yep, I’m ready.”