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Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I'm Reading

Been wanting to get back in the saddle here..., and ironically enough..., Sean Paul Kelley over at The Agonist asked in a post what folks were reading.

It gave me an opportunity to post this response.

Right now? Thomas McGuane's “The Cadence of Grass”. One of my favorite books is Tom’s book of essays, “Some Horses”. When I had Amazon send my dear old Dad a copy…, I think he was as tickled with it as anything I ever gave him. More so than with the custom made pair of chaps from the Diamond “C” Saddle Shop, or the handmade elk horn button belt buckle with the inlaid silhouette of a cowboy leading two pack mules through the mountains, or even the border stamped George Lawrence saddle. Sad to say that I have the book, the chaps and the saddle now. Haven’t found the belt buckle. Anyway…, I wish the old cowboy was still around to share a seven page passage from “The Cadence of Grass” with. It’s a shame to have to leave out so much of it…, but here are the highlights.

“We had just got our horses up for the year. They was out all winter and the saddles didn’t fit and them horses would buck all hell west and crooked till we could get ‘em rode. I was down in the ranch yard and Leo, the illegal worked for me then, said some old-timer had arrived on a wild horse and rolled out his bedroll under the loading chute, put his head on his saddle and gone to sleep. I had an idea it was Robert Wood, and it was. Course I didn’t find him asleep, just caught his eye and told him I would see him in the morning. I pretty much knew what he was after. He had a band of mares up on the bench behind our ranch, you know, Ev, where that tank went dry, mares that was running out with wild horses there, not real mustangs but just cayuses folks had turned out when they went to war and they’d reverted and was all outright broncs. I’d promised to gather ‘em for Robert when we had a full complement of help, because it wasn’t going to be easy in any way, shape or form. Well, Robert lost patience with me…”

“Robert Wood was just an old puncher who’d outlived his day. Thought the Old West could be brought back if they’d just quit dammin’ up water to make alfalfa. He hated alfalfa and would go a long way out of his way to keep from seein’ it. I suppose he was seventy-five years old ‘cause I seen in the papers when he died about ten years ago he’d made ninety or better. Wore a Stetson right out of the box, no crease, no nothing’. He wouldn’t wear a straw hat in the summer, said it was a farmer’s hat.”

Continued in the comments section..., wish you could edit them !

1 comment:

  1. "First off, we had to get crooked old Robert on his horse. He led his sorrel mare out of the pen behind the scales and tied her to a plank of the chute. She was a little sickle-hocked, which I’m sure he preferred, and she had good withers, short pasterns, kind of coon-footed, low-croup cow-horse look to her, ears pricked forward, even whickered at him quick as she seen him.
    “It was just painful to watch him saddle this horse. He threw the Navajo up all right, but when he lifted that old slick-fork saddle, we felt how it hurt him and yet knew we ought not to help. He bridled her up in a little grazer bit and led her around to the front of the chute. He threw one rein around the horn and wrapped the other around the corner post of the loading chute. She stood all right--I mean, he’d dare her not to stand--but that wasn’t no kid’s horse, bad as anything he’d force O.C. onto, nose blowed out and white around her eyes. Cross a horse like that and she drives you into the ground like a picketpin.
    “Then Robert walks around to the holding pen, squeaks the old gate open, goes inside and next time we see him, he’s crawling up the chute, out the end and onto his horse. She snorted and backed away and he hung down around her neck to catch is other rein. When he sat up in the saddle, he had both reins plaited through the fingers of his left hand and just lifted his hand about three-sixteenths of an inch and she sat down on her hocks and backed clear across the ranch yard in a cloud of dust. Then he straightened up, threw her some slack and she stood square to the world, ready for work. Had of been O.C. his ass’d be over the granary. I rode a dun gelding I’d broke and was hopin’ Robert’d tell me what a great job I’d did, but he didn’t say nothing’.”

    “Presently they came boilin’ back and we whooped and hollered. Leo took down his slicker and got them bunched up once more toward the trail, where they did not want to go and Robert’s yellin’, ‘Drive ‘em boys!’ till they advanced his way like a bright-colored little cyclone trying’ to break right around him. We almost lost ‘em right there. Robert stretched up over his mare’s neck and she closed on that crack just burnin’ a hole in the wind, and when she reached it she soared up into the air, Robert easing back into the saddle with his stirrups pushed out in front toward the landing he hoped they would both make.”
    At this, Bill stopped and went across the room to the fireplace, where he rapped the grate with a poker to make the cold ashes fall through.


    Thanks for asking what I’m reading now Sean Paul…, and odds are…, I will be reading “Some Horses” again next.