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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ceremonies of the Horsemen

When the Tom McGuane book, "Some Horses" came out in 1999..., I had Amazon send a hard copy edition to my dear old Dad.  I got a call from him soon after.  He said that he was surprised when it unexpectedly arrived in the mail and that he opened the package up at the post office..., then went straight home..., and read it through.  Well..., if the old boy was still around..., he would be getting another book in the mail.  The one pictured here.

Yeah..., I was first exposed to Tom Russell by his writing on his old blog..., and that drew me to his music..., which I have written about..., here..., and..., here.  I even fashioned a few YouTube video slide shows..., here..., here..., and here.

About five years ago Tom started writing a column for an online magazine called Ranch & Reata.  It was a high class and beautiful production..., though a bit slow and clunky loading for those of us still stuck in the dial up dark ages out on the ranch.  I only got to read a couple of the essays before the magazine hid behind a pay wall.  So I was pretty excited to see that the essays had been collected in book form..., and I was not disappointed.

From the opening essay about the famous bronc rider Casey Tibbs and scattered though out the book I was having flashbacks of that dear old Dad of mine.  I don't recall us specifically seeing Casey ride at The Lewiston Roundup..., but it is a distinct possibility..., and I certainly knew his name as one of the great ones. And I pretty much grew up with a Johnny Cash sound track in my head..., along with Marty Robbins, Tex Ritter and Hank Williams...., all of whom appear in book.  And Tom writes of the pack horse men like Rayburn Crane in the high Sierra and Russ Knox in the Grand Canyon that bring back hunting camp memories. 

OK..., not all of the memories that Tom brought back are so fondly remembered..., I wish I could forget an incident of my own that involved the subject of Tom's essay on Tequila...,
After reaching the bottom and eating the worm I thought my chair was dancing the cumbia.  I toppled over backwards, spun a few times, and passed out.  I was ushered into a long and nightmare laden sleep, broken only by the sounds of six a.m. garbage trucks at first light, and the smell of bagels steaming up from the shop below.  I was alive.  There were no mystic revelation in the journey.  No Aztec maidens or curanderos named Don Juan.  My tongue felt like it had swept the bottom of the Sonora desert.  Lesson learned.  From the worm.
I haven't been too fond of Tequila since I did my own tongue sweeping of something way worse tasting than any desert sand.  But it is a testament to the quality of Tom's writing..., that I find myself wanting to seek out a 100% Agave Reposado..., maybe..., after I get this posted and the chores done today.

Yeah..., if you are a fan of anything western in nature you will find something that will utterly delight you in many of the 25 essays found in "Ceremonies of the Horseman: The Ranch and Riata Essays".  And those that don't utterly delight you..., will certainly be more than pleasing.  My only disappointments..., were running out of stories..., and not being able to share them with my dear old Dad.

So I will share them with you..., get the book.