Monthly Archives: January 2010

Ice in Trough

My first winters in Texas in the 1940s were in Brownwood, central Texas, but other winters fell upon me in Austin, Amarillo, and Mingus.  Snowshoes and skies are not required in Texas, but gloves, long underwear, waterproof boots, field coat, and hood or toboggan cap are accouterments imperative to outdoor work or play.  Chaps of wool aren’t optional, they don’t even exist this far south in the West.  Wooly chaps would snag on brush and mesquite down here, spilling rider into the cactus and spooking the horse to bolt.  If you insist upon wearing a hat, it must be felt and if it cold and windy, stampede strings are required to hold the hat in place although I have seen few strings in my lifetime.  Usually, a hoodie is worn and a neckerchief is tied twice around the throat for warmth.  The hoodie is hardly ever pulled up about the head.  Too urban.

Most often these days the tending of cattle during a Texas winter is performed in a pickup, stopping to throw hay or chop ice from a trough.  Mechanized feed bins on the back of flatbed pickups allow cattle cake or cubes to be dispersed without leaving the warmth of the cab.

This winter in the 2010s I must feed two horses in the stable area, then load hay and grain in the pickup and drive to the Well House corral to feed the other three horses.  Before daylight in the morning, I shuttle the grain and hay into two feed bins without separating the horses.  The horses sort themselves out, the alpha mare Sweet Hija makes the other two horses move aside as she chooses.  I get out of the pickup with a flashlight and have the headlights beamed into the arena so that I can climb over the corral fence and chop ice.  For the last five mornings I have taken the hatchet to the ice in the trough and chopped through two to five inches of ice.  The water splashes up on my coat and glasses and freezes immediately.  I become partially caked in ice and as I climb back over the corral fence, my gloves stick to the piping and I have to pull my hands away from the railing.  I think of the movie Christmas Story and the boy whose tongue stuck to the flagpole.  Nothing that serious here.  Only gloves, not tongue.

I finish the chore of feeding horses before 6:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and drive around the Poprock Hill pasture, through the pasture gate and up the hill and out on the county road.  Other days of the week I can feed later at daybreak, not in the dead of night.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a lecture at 8:00 a.m. in Abilene and I must be at the bottom of Ranger Hill by 6:15 a.m. to keep with my schedule on Interstate 20.

I drive to Abilene, my gloves are drying out on the dashboard, I’ve unwrapped the bandanna from my throat, taken my toboggan cap off and have my coat hung behind me.  The Ford F-150 cab is warm.  I think my lecture to the first class will be….

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Old Joe Clark

In 1953, my uncle Nathan Valentine Morris played fiddle and called the dances at Bend schoolhouse, Bend, Texas.  We danced the round dance in a large classroom and ate potluck stew in the schoolyard beside the bell that had tolled pupils to their lessons for generations.  The bell could heard across the Colorado River into Lampasas County.  That night, I understood community.

The narrative is coming soon, but until then, listen to Old Joe Clark:

Old Joe Clark, performed by The Resonators.

 

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Filed under Bend Texas, Colony Road, Dancing, Recollections 1942-1966

Duncan Steele-Park Lane

South Poprock Hill Pasture, Flying Hat Ranch, January 7, 2010

By the calendar it is January 7, 2010, and I am in the pickup, near the barn.  Looking east from the Well House corral in south Poprock Hill pasture, the early morning sky configures a cold day for livestock and young men and women on horseback who manage them.  Currently, we have no cattle herd to tend, but five horses need our daily attention.  I rose early before daylight and planned the first feed of the day for Lilly the oldest mare and alpha, Star the gelding-son of Lilly, Sweet Hija the King Ranch legacy mare, and Shiney the colt of Sweet Hija.

Presently, I do not tend the fifth horse.  The fifth horse is off-site, at Duncan Steele-Park’s place near Weatherford, Texas, going to school in the round pen of equine education.  This horse, Fanny, is with ten others in her cohort, learning and gaining confidence to join-up and toil with cowboys and cowgirls that must use horses that are strong and even-tempered.

Duncan has a philosophy about horse training.  Before we even unloaded Fanny from the stock trailer, he stated his way of working with young horses.  Duncan grew up in Australia and his methods presage directness, no frills, no nonsense.  He spoke clearly, precisely, in clipped tones of the Down Under, and with the authority of a thousand rides upon young horses needing guidance to confirm man as a friend, not predator.

The most important lesson you must teach a young horse, who is having his first few rides, is to go forward which is why I don’t spend much time in a round pen because there is no where for a horse to go in an arena.  I find myself a fence line or a lane and kick the latch of the arena open and let my young horse just run.  You see if you leave a young horse’s feet free you keep his mind free.  And if things are getting a little radical,  just one-rein stop him and then let him go and before you know it he begins to relax.  People and clinicians now days take too  much of the impulsion out of young horses because they spend too much time doing groundwork [in the roundpen].

I think I’ll play with Fanny this afternoon and see what she does [1].

My grandfather, J.W. “Jake” Parks trained or as they used to say, “broke” horses.  My mother told me that her father would use a forceful technique to train horses and that the “screams” of the horses upset her as a child and caused her to resent the method Jake used, even Jake.  My grandfather did not have a coarse or abusive nature; he loved jokes and took my mother and his sisters fishing along the Colorado River.   He was, unfortunately, taught to use the aggressive method by his teachers and peers; that was what he saw in the 1910s and 1920s in central Texas.  I think if my grandfather had seen another method to train without force, he would have used it.  Those methods were not present in his background, although the method of respectful, non-forceful training has been around in recorded history since Xenophon, the Greek cavalry officer, 5th century B.C.E.  General Stephen W. Kearny who marched American troops through New Mexico to California in the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848, reportedly used non-abusive techniques in handling horses.  My grandfather probably never knew Xenophon’s way or Kearney’s.  He was, like us all, a man of his times and it ended badly.

In the 1930s, while working on the Sorrel Ranch in Sonora, Texas, my grandfather was critically injured riding a horse named Hell’s Canyon as they popped brush for cattle.  Riding fast, he struck a low-hanging tree branch and was knocked unconscious.  Unfound for three days, he almost died before ranch hands rescued him.  He never regained his health following the accident.  I do not believe Hell’s Canyon delivered a mystical counterforce to Jake, re-aligning balance to horse screams and my mother’s pain, but rather the accident came as both horse and rider delighted in the chase of cattle for round-up.

The story of my grandfather and Hell’s Canyon was heaped on me when I was a child and I was told I favored my grandfather in body, but I never saw him.   In the family narrative, horses and and my grandfather were always joined, wedded, symbiotic, tragic.  I was never expected to follow my grandfather’s path.  That was just as well because I grew up in a small town, my country experiences were inconstant and we had no land, no cattle, no horses.

Time passed, I inherited horses, my grandfather’s inheritance was passed down to me and I bought more horses, good horses, fine-bloodied, and beautiful.  I bought land and I began to work with horses without force, without pain, and with respect.  And, when it is time, I take them by the halter and give them to a teacher who will help them grow in ways that take them to high places, wind-swept and sunlit that call out their strength and delight to help tend livestock with humans in the West.

Duncan Steele-Park has a fenced lane, about fifty-feet wide, that angles from his round pens into the Texas brush and trees and pasture.  Though I have not seen it, I know where the lane ends.  I can tell you where it begins.  For the horse, the lane begins with respect and it must end in a land of fun with Duncan Steele-Park.  Jake would be pleased; he would be changed.

Fanny in the Grove, Winter 2009

Notes

[1]  Conversation of Duncan Steele-Park to Jack Matthews, Weatherford, Texas, December 22, 2009; email of Duncan Steele-Park to Jack Matthews, Weatherford, Texas, January 8, 2009.

An an object lesson in writing and fact-checking, I sent Duncan an email on January 7, 2009, for him to fact-check my recollection of our conversation on December 22, 2009.  My recollection was:

I let them gain a confidence before I ask anything of them.  Some trainers just put them in the round pen and round and round they go, boring them and not letting them be.  What I do is let them go down the lane, down the lane, learning for themselves and gaining confidence before I ask anything of them in the round pen.  Then as they go down the lane, after awhile I ask something of them in the round pen.

As you can read, Duncan’s correction of my recollection carries specificity about training that my later recollection did not.  His words have greater clarity about his philosophy and present his training style in definitely his own words.  I can hear in his writing, the down-under Australian accent.

Duncan Steele-Park’s email address is duncansteelepark@yahoo.com.

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Filed under Bend Texas, Colony Road, Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Recollections 1942-1966, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

Gray Sky With Duck

Ducks Flying Over Flying Hat, January 7, 2010

After feeding the horses, I go farther into the pasture south of the arena to check on corn I have scattered on the ground for deer in the grove and dry creek bed.

Half of the corn I dispersed last night has been consumed and deer hooves have stabbed the ground in delight or hunger.  Leaving the deer prints behind, I turn north on the pasture road and drive past the stock pond next to the Blue farm, the family east of us.

I frighten nine ducks that take to the air from the pond, shaming me that I had disturbed their morning feed.  I open the door of the pickup and snap a shot of their flight upwards, then circling back to the pond.  A momentary interruption at their table I was.  Tomorrow I will walk to the deer-stabbing feed ground in the grove.  Better for me.  Better for the ducks.

______________________________

Notes:

11/18/2010.  I am going to set up a duck blind.  I have cedar posts and brush that will allow me to stand behind and photograph.  I hope to identify the ducks that come to the pond by the end of the Winter season.  That is my intention.  Not a promise to anyone, but it is my intent.

11/15/2010.  Two days ago as I drove to the Grove to photograph our solitary cottonwood, I scared at least fifteen ducks from the pond.  I had forgotten about them in my mission to write about the cottonwood.

7/30/2010.  A pair of heron fly often to the pond.  They give one call when they leave the pond — just one call.

3/19/2010.  Ducks were on the pond this morning.  A blue heron flies to the pond late in the afternoon.


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Filed under Cedar, Deer, Ducks, Flying Hat Ranch, Juniper

Diana of Taos

Diana of Letherwerks, Jack

I had rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than spend money.  Last Christmas I looked for a leather belt in Santa Fe and refused to spend the money.  My wife, Brenda, insisted that I buy a new belt this year because my old belt was “plain awful,” in her own words.  So, since I had purchased knives from Letherwerks of Taos two years ago and knew they purveyed belts, and we were dining at Doc Martin’s anyway, why not mosey down to Letherwerks?

I bought a bison belt with silver-plated nickel for a few pesos that I was quite happy about, and so was my wife.  On the quest for a belt, I was feted and prevailed upon to purchase the item by Diana of Taos, who could absolutely sell mesquite trees to Texans.  What a personality!  And, when I shook hands to make the sale, she went behind the counter to the crafting table and put a new buckle on the belt, tacking and pressuring the ornamentation into place.  No shrinking violet there.

I insisted that my picture be taken with Diana because she is a wonderful, outgoing, person that personifies the sun at midday.  She and Brenda wanted me to purchase a silver buckle, but I refused.  Diana said, “Well, everybody needs a silver buckle before they die, Jack!”  True enough, but I have a few more years to go, and I’ll come back to Taos.  Not to buy a silver buckle, but to see Diana ply her wares at Letherwerks.  Maybe look at a knife, another belt, or maybe that buckle, after all, Diana.

Notes

I have to show you a photograph I took inside of Doc Martin’s to finish off this post.  It was in their dining area just to the immediate right as you go in the restaurant and the photograph was shot intentionally at that angle.

Doc Martin's Restaurant, Taos, December 2009

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Andrea of Santa Fe

Andrea of Ortega's and Brenda

Going to Santa Fe entails many activities, including that all-important task of shopping.  In this age of over consumption, we must be conservative in our use of finite resources and be especially attentive to the labor that produces goods we admire.  To that end of being sensitive to the environment, even in the purchase of jewelry, one must discriminate between what one can live without and what object will bring admiration and be regarded as an heirloom or treasure by one’s descendants, hopefully passed on for several decades if not a century.  My wife, Brenda, has been given and she has purchased for several years, silver necklaces made by Maggie Moser.  Buy quality, keep quality.

Ortega’s of Santa Fe purvey Maggie’s work.  Brenda is wearing necklaces, five strands of them, purchased over the last five years, and pictured with her is Andrea of Ortega’s. Andrea is modeling some of Maggie’s necklaces.  Andrea is a persuasive salesperson and devoted resident of Santa Fe.  This year, for the first time in twenty years, she went to the farolito evening along Canyon Road on Christmas Eve.  “Oh, it was so beautiful!” Andrea said.

Brenda will be pass her necklaces down to our grandchildren along with lessons of conservation because this year we did not purchase any new items from Ortega’s.  We looked, but did not buy.

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Inn at Loretto

Inn at Loretto

I am not paid to write this post.  Living with the land and people in the American Southwest has included camping at Holy Ghost Canyon near Pecos, New Mexico, as well as staying in a hotel near another holy site, the chapel at the former Catholic academy, Loretto Academy, now closed.  During Christmas, we stayed at the Inn at Loretto, December 24-26, Room 445, overlooking St. Francis Cathedral and the La Fonda Hotel.  The restored bells of St. Francis rang at midnight, Christmas Eve, for ten minutes.

I am not a tyro in evaluating lodging in northern New Mexico.  Since 1967, I have stayed in hotels and motels in Grants, Santa Fe, Taos, and Raton.  When I taught at Amarillo College, I conducted field trips to New Mexico with students, sometimes twice a year.  Taos Inn, Dreamcatcher, Sagebrush Inn, Inn of the Governors, La Fonda, La Posada, the Holiday Inn at Grants, and Jack Something’s Trailer Park in Taos (now gone) have all been my rest after eating, drinking, touring, and climbing mountains.  The only time I have been frustrated beyond all reconciliation with the proprietor was at the Inn of the Dancing Bear in Santa Fe, some three years ago.  I got my money back.  The Inn of the Dancing Bear is out of business now.

Our stay this Christmas at the Inn at Loretto (it’s “at,” not “of”) was predictably hospitable, comfortable, and restful.  I think the only way our stay could have been improved upon would be if an attendant had been stationed outside our door.  And, I’m not so sure that if we had asked for one, and had been willing to pay extra, we could have had an attendant.

The Loretto Inn encourages conservation and sustainability.  “Destination Earth,” they call it.  The restaurant menu prints a green leaf beside items that are organically grown or products regionally acquired.  They have a special sparkling water in a reusable bottle that is obtained locally, cutting down on the carbon footprint.

Further, although the Inn at Loretto will change linens everyday if you ask, their rotation for extended stays is to change linens every fourth day.  Obviously, new guests, new linens.  This is due to a Santa Fe water conservation ordinance.  Towels left on the floor will be changed, but if you hang up your towels, they will be folded and left for reuse.

We arrived Christmas Eve after driving through the Texas blizzard.  We checked in and went to the Living Room, their large bar area near the swimming pool, to have Santa Fe Ale and Mistletoe martinis.  We also feasted on burgers served in the Living Room.  We had arrived late and missed our Casa Sena seating at 9:30 p.m.

The next day, Christmas, we had reservations to dine for lunch at Fuego at the Posada Inn.  The reservations were made through Open Table, an internet reservation site.  Open Table and Fuego boggled our reservations and when we arrived at Fuego for our lunch seating, Fuego was not open.  Our mistake not to call ahead and confirm reservations, but Open Table and Fuego lacked coordination of their schedules.  Much more can be written here, but this post is about Loretto Inn.  Why use Open Table if you need to confirm by telephone anyway?

We tracked back to the Inn at Loretto and made reservations for 4:00 p.m., Christmas Day dinner at their restaurant, Luminaria.  All would go well, spirits restored.

As we sat in Luminaria’s bar area, we were cordially engaged by the Executive Chef, Brian Cooper, and the Director of Food and Beverage, Dennis Marcinik.  The chef, harried as he was, spent a minute with us and Mr. Marcinik chatted amiably for several minutes.  Sergio, the bartender, poured us a Brut Reserva, Segura Viudas estate.  Erika Cooper, Restaurant Manager, frequently asked if our needs were being met.  We forgot about our Fuego problem and enjoyed the Inn of Loretto.  I told them of my first stay at the Inn back in the 1970s, when I took my daughter to Santa Fe.

The waitress for our dinner seating was Wendy, tall, brunette, former resident of Taos, now Santa Fe.  My wife had Blue Point oysters with guacamole sorbet as an appetizer, then onto turkey and dressing.  I had both the Blue Point oysters and the “crispy ancho ravioli stuffed with foie gras and oyster mushroom duxelles” for appetizers.  A grilled Pecos beef tenderloin was my entree.

For wine, a merlot by Pine Ridge, Crimson Creek Merlot, Napa Valley, 2006, was served.

On the center table of Luminaria (which was never seated), rose petals were strung about the surface.  We would look over at the table and see rose petals and seating for six as we dined.  Gracious and elegant.

Wendy, our waitress, was attentive, warm, and personal.  She had several tables to work, but seemed always ready to grant our requests.  By the end of the evening, my wife and felt like we had made a friend.  I am well aware that waiters must attend in style and respect to their guests, but Wendy excelled at a style that was engaging and joking, scoring smiles and laughter at her tables.  I watched her with other tables and she was personable and specific in repartee, conversation, and banter.  Wendy seemed to enjoy her work and hid whatever frustrations she had.  She knew I was taking notes, and remarked that she had been given a journal recently and wanted to join in the pleasure of writing.  I believe her.

The behavior of Wendy and Sergio personifies a dynamic of service, a culture of attendance to guests that is the Inn at Loretto.  Room attendants stand out of the way when we go down the hall, waiters stand aside as we arrive and depart.  Even Chef Cooper shook our hand and briefly chatted, stressed as he was.  I know it must be hard to be courteous all of the time, but the Inn of Loretto staff did just that.  Sergio said to us at the Luminaria bar, before we sat down for Christmas Day dinner, that the staff was trying “to create a pleasant memory for their guests.”    Yes, a theater and acting, but plainly, in my view, successful to its audience.  Sergio, it worked, you created a pleasant memory for us.  And, yes, we will return.

Further, our valet knew how to start a diesel F-250 truck, waiting until the coil light on the dashboard went off.  Paul, the valet for the Inn, has worked there for twenty-five years and knows us, our pickup trucks, even the history of our horses and pets back in Texas.  Paul is happy working for the Inn, it seems, and we know that when we get to the Inn, after a trip of 570 miles from Mingus, he will be there to help us settle in.

The Inn is not all perfect, but what is?  But, the Inn at Loretto is the least imperfect of all hotels in Santa Fe.  There will be room at the Inn on Christmas if you call ahead, and the staff in all areas will provide that memory:  warm, helpful, friendly.  Could strangers to the city of Holy Faith ask for more?  I think not.

To repeat, I am not getting paid to write this.  I promised Wendy at the Inn at Loretto that I would write something on my blog.  And, I have.  As a friend, she deserves a pleasant memory from me, just as she gave us on Christmas Day.

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Neda Kindles Fire

Neda in Life

I came to blog because of Neda, Twitter, and the constraints of 140 characters.

The Iranian election this past summer erupted into mass demonstrations, one result being the random murder of Neda, a university student in Tehran.  Outraged at this murder and failed election, I joined Twitter in late June 2009.  Information from Twitter was contemporaneous, edgy, and peremptory of newspapers and television.  My first ID was CodeLegionaire, reflective of my background and creed.  CodeLegionaire, however, was a bit misleading for I never served in the French Foreign Legion, so I changed my Twitter ID to NoRedDeer, a reference to the Greek philosopher Archilochus and Homer’s The Iliad “roe [red] deer” or coward as it was written and interpreted in those bygone days.  No Red Deer indicated a bravery, an act of defiance against the despotism and fascism erupting in Iran.  “noreddeer” is still my Twitter ID.

Twitter, however, limits users to 140 characters and I had to write more.  I started a blog under the Google format named No Red Deer.  That blog is closed and integrated with Mustang Latigo (read on).  My posts were quite specific about Iranian politics with some risk analysis entwined.

The blog No Red Deer, however, was Iranian-directed and I had more to write, more things to say about the world, my life out here in west Texas.  So, I started another blog that would not have Iranian content, but would focus on my past, my present in the Southwest.

My second blog I named The 27th Heart, so called for Unit 27 of Angus stocker calves I ran on my place.  The 27th Heart became ill and as I tried to load him into the stock trailer, he became stressed, wobbled to the corral fence, and knelt down in panic, hysteria, a kind of shutting-down.  He had become partially blind.  I am a gentle stockman, so I backed off and let him be.  I ached and grieved for him and the whole process of streamlining stocker calves to the feedlot I questioned.  I take care of my livestock in a non-violent fashion; I always have.  If I encounter a problem, say, a panicked cow or a horse that is wild-eyed and nervous, I walk away for there is another day to herd, to saddle and ride.  Coffeeonthemesa listed my blog on her site as The Gentle Stockman.  I like that brand-moniker and if my friends in the cattle and horse business disagree with my approach, then take some time and talk to me about managing cattle on foot or on horseback.  Talk to me about training horses.  There’s no screamin’ or yellin’ or usin’ Hot Shots on my place, and those that do, to paraphrase Pericles, have no business doing business on my ranch.

The 27th Heart blog site started slowly, but as I began to write for it, my interest in composing snatches of my past and present intensified.  And, as I wrote and became familiar with Google’s format I found other bloggers that shared my interest in nature, land, livestock, wildlife, and good writing about all.  (See Jerry Wilson’s blog, Observations from a Missouri River Bluff.  He no longer posts, but the archive for 2009 is worth reading.)

There’s another blog and another side to me, however, that few know.  I have a sarcastic, critical, radical blog called Mustang Latigo.  Its content revolves around the educationist jargon and cant that universities and colleges must endure.  My intent in writing Mustang Latigo is to eviscerate educationist concepts–without mercy.  Laura Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, in her inaugural address, stated that metrics measure, but she wasn’t so sure what they measured.  I agree.  If you have been out of education for a few years, I can tell you that the educational system has been hijacked by federal and legislative committees that are market-driven, business-dominated, and uniformly intent upon changing, even destroying, academic culture.  And, my critique includes bureaucracies-in-general.  To paraphrase Reinhold Niebuhr, all bureaucracy is evil, impinging the liberty of the individual.  Mustang Latigo is my Confucian side; The 27th Heart is my Lao Tsu side.

This brings me to my WordPress blog, Sage to Meadow.  Coffeeonthemesa wrote a piece on quail, using a phrase that described the quail she saw moving “from sage to the meadow.”  I liked that.  It describes plant and terrain, sage and meadow.  Sage configures for me, the purple-blossoming plant of the West, the scent after rain, and the crushing of its leaves to instruct the nostrils to attend desert heaven, the part of my life after I moved to Amarillo, Texas.  The meadow signifies my background in central Texas, the fields of paintbrush, bluebonnet that in the spring permeate the air, bringing me to heel at nature’s side.  And, so, I have the blog, Sage to Meadow, to carry The 27th Heart a little farther down the road in remembering and understanding land and people in the American Southwest.

All of my posts are composed on Sage to Meadow, but I will continue to enter a link on The 27th Heart.

Neda’s death prompted me and others to question the #iranelection, to enter Twitterverse, and start blogs of all colors and shades, black even.  That young woman, Neda, wanted to sing; she wanted to attend a protest rally against the #iranelection.  She should have sung; she should have raised her arms wrapped in green, protesting fearlessly the betrayal of the Persians.  But she could not; cut down, bled out, lifeless on asphalt in Tehran she became.  From her death, distributed on YouTube, Twitter, she launched a thousand ships bearing words that kindled fire.

And, that’s how I came to blog today.  Neda.

Neda in Death

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Happy New Year! What Are We Going to do Next?

In preparation for Christmas and the New Year, stock tanks must be filled to the brim for horses, cattle, and deer.  Olivia Gywn Needham poses while filling the Pecan Tree Pasture water trough.  On this day in late November, she incessantly asked, “What are we going to do next, Grandpere?”  I ran out of chores before she ran out of energy.  Chores are play at this time in her life.  Being with Olivia makes chores enjoyable, festive, and less burdensome.  I have seen, as you have, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, bring the child into the tasks of the day that must be completed before the dark.  Integrating the child with what we have to do gives them a sense of belonging and purpose to the day, and, I think, it gives us a sense of renewal that the world just might continue to endure with a piece of us after we depart.

This young woman is Jennifer Connell, my daughter-in-law, and she is engaging Star, Sweet Hija, and Fanny (looking over Hija’s withers).  Jennifer is in her second year of law school at Texas Wesleyan University.  Recently married to my step-son, she also works at Wesleyan to help defray expenses.  As we were walking back to the ranch house, she said that she wants horses again in her life, as she had been around them growing up in north Texas.  The New Year for Jennifer will be difficult, attending school, settling into her marriage, and working.  But, beneath the stress and grind, she prevails into the year, performing in class and rewriting her notes for clarity.  The New Year for her and Michael, her husband, will bring accomplishment of goals that will set their path for the future.  Star, the paint, when Jennifer visits, will lower her blood pressure and give companionship that only a horse can do.  “There’s something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a woman.”  And, a man.

This is Brenda, my wife.  While in Santa Fe she noticed that several shops had closed and that inventory stock was down at several businesses.  Our stay in Santa Fe this year was a rest from teaching and tending our ranchito (anything less than 2,560 acres is not a ranch, see John Wesley Powell).  The New Year for Brenda will be, like mine, sacred and profane, toil and rest, sky-high and ocean-low.  Like Olivia and Jennifer, in the photos above, we will endure and with some deliberation, maybe we can occasionally play through our days and nights, finding a self-loss in the rhythm of nature’s beauty out here in the West.

To my friends, to my fellow bloggers, to my family, to my dogs and cats and horses, trees and grasses, and the wildlife of the American Southwest:

Happy New Year!

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