Wintertime could be tough in the country
Officially, it has been winter for several days, but the temperature doesn’t know it!
Yes, I know that in Texas, anyone that predicts the weather is a newcomer or a fool. So, this is not a prediction, it is just fact!
“Don’t put away your long handles just yet!”
Wintertime could be tough in the country, and I sometimes think back to yesteryear with the devil-may-care attitude of a kid. We lived a far piece from the well-traveled trail, but in the winter, drifters still came by pretty regular.
You see, there were a lot of cowboys, but not so many winter jobs. These cowboys would drift from place to place hoping to get a meal in exchange for news and gossip that they’d heard. And they would cut firewood or do the occasional odd job that had popped up.
We all looked forward to these visits because in the wintertime, you got your chores done and hunkered around the fire. These drifters or, as they were sometimes called chuck-line riders could help while away the hours with their talk and windy tales. Some were better at this than others and we all had our favorites.
One, that I have never forgot, was older than the hills that he rode through. He went by the moniker of “Shadow,” though he wouldn’t cast much of one. That ol’ gent was wrinkled as a fresh dried prune.
He was brown and sun-dried, so bowlegged that his pants could never fall down on their own, and showed he’d been around a lot and moved on quick, like as not! He’d grin, showing gaps where teeth should have been and say, “Well howdy girls!”
Then we’d call him “Grandma” or something like that knowing that he would reach into his shirt pocket and produce a handful of peppermint candy.
Then he would just squat down! Today, I am envious of his ability to do that every time I try it and hear my knees go to popping like the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. But he was comfortable, and he would start to telling big windys that even us kids had to raise our eyebrows, though we insisted that he tell us more. And he would until suppertime, then he got plumb serious. Where he put all those groceries is still a mystery and he never turned down an offer for a second piece of pie. I’m guessing that he just dried up to nothing and only his tales are left.
Much like the Princess Echo who loved a feller that only loved himself, so she pined away until she was completely gone except for her voice. She is still out there, because when you shout “Hello!” Far in the distance you can hear her say, “Hello, hello, hello, lo, lo.” And the Shadow, well, only the Shadow knows.
Fall drive was finished, winter would soon come,
Most fellers found it mighty tough,
‘Cuz job prospects would be shore ‘nuff slim for some,
Gettin’ through winter would be rough.
He’d heard they was hirin’ at the Quarter Circle C
Good cowboys were in short demand,
He’d rode for some good spreads, of that he would agree,
Yes, he always rode for the brand.
Shadows retreated ‘fore a bright morning sun,
His fire heated his coffee pot,
His pony had graze an’ his dog out for a run,
Soon he’d head out in a trot.
The glare of that sunshine brought a thought to his mind,
As it glistened on that frost,
This thought was of his youthful days long left behind,
Yet, some things are never lost.
Then his eyes focused on the ridge ahead,
With its rough and narrow trail,
And his life opened like a book that he had read,
As his thoughts began to assail
Some made him smile as his pony jogged along,
Young pards he’d had in days gone by,
Many memories caused him to break into song,
Some of them just made him sigh.
There was the time in Ol’ Torg’s watermelon patch,
Torg’s dog barked, they pert near got caught,
An’ the time watchin’ that nest as young eagles hatch,
They were quiet like they’d been taught.
Then he thought of all the purty girls he’d once knew,
He’d pulled their pigtails an’ then run,
They might want to kiss him, put him in a stew,
Soon he found kissin’ was fun!
He thought back to his beautiful Mama’s sweet smile,
Brighter than the morning sun rise,
An’ she could spread joy for more than a country mile,
With that twinkle in her eyes.
Takin’ her to Sunday church’ with faces all aglow,
To learn of Jesus great love,
That was a good time, but a long time ago.
Fleeting, like the flight of a dove.
Then he heard the clink of his horse’s hoof against rock,
It brought him back to where he was,
His ol’ pony pickin’ his way in a tedious stalk,
Amblin’ through the break an’ the draws
He’s come a long way, as the day nears its end,
But he knows he’s pert near there,
He breathes easy, knowin’ it’s just around the bend,
An’ to the Lord he sends a prayer.
He’s thankful that his way was guided by the Lord,
That his trail was not so rough,
An’ that this wintertime would not be so hard,
An’ he reckoned he’d said enough.
He topped the ridge to see a valley spread out,
An’ he shore liked what he could see,
He put his pony in a lope, there was no doubt,
He’s ridin on the Quarter Circle C.
© Ol’ Jim Cathey
Ask our Lord to help you get a good start on the new year!
God Bless you and God Bless America!