From the moment I saw it, I though it was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen. I spent 20 years thinking that, too.
"Whatta ya think?" Daddy stepped back, folded his arms across his chest with the look of a satisfied, proud man.
In typical teenager form, I rolled my eyes rudely and sniffed imperiously.
"Daddy, whoever heard of putting an ugly, old windmill in the yard - the front yard - of a modern brick house? It looks awful."
He should have popped me right then and there. But, instead, he turned to me, the smile dripping from his face and sliding to the ground, and said, "Little girl, one day you'll see things differently."
At 15, I couldn't imagine that I'd ever see things the way my daddy did. He was quaire - in the words of his Scotch-Irish people - meaning sometimes peculiar in his ways.
For instance, we had a pasture fence that surrounded three sides of our yard. Daddy decided that by adding a chain-link fence to the front with a gate, he could extend the pasture and, therefore, board more cattle. Plus, if the cows ate it, he didn't have to cut it.
Many afternoons, I arrived home on the school bus to find the gate closed and a dozen or more registered Herefords grazing in our front yard, some lifting their tails and unceremoniously dropping dark remnants as my classmates watched.
So by the time the windmill arrived, I had had enough. Daddy, though, wasn't relenting. He probably thought that repeated humiliation would make me stronger in life. It did.
I didn't know until many years later, but the windmill had been a gift of love to his sweetheart. Mama, boosting his ego, had commented sweetly on a windmill he had added to the farm where he grew up.
"I wish I had one in my yard," she said, not meaning it at all. So, as soon as he could locate another one, Daddy bought a 25-foot-tall windmill and plopped it in our yard. What woman would want diamonds when you can have a windmill?
Over the years, I began to have appreciation for the windmill. I saw it as lovely folk art. It is quite majestic with the weathered red blades and the blue tail that spins it around. It's not dumb. It's a unique monument to one man's love for his wife.
I built a house up the hill and across the river from Mama's, and though there are trees between us, amazingly, there is a clear view of that windmill. Beautifully framed by hardwood trees that surround it with green leaves in warm months, stunning color in the fall and raw limbs or an occasional snow in the winter.
I am awed by it.
Mesmerized, I will stare at it from my favorite chair through the living room window or sip morning coffee at the triple window in the dining room and admire the mist hovering around it. From the balcony outside my office, I often take photos in its various states of season and position. And, always, I sigh with appreciation.
For the time has come that I do, indeed, see things differently.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)" and "The Town That Came A-Courtin'."