Sunday, November 11, 2007

SJP, part 3

I'm gettin' there, I promise...

Way up in the northwoods of Idaho, not much comes between you and the mirror.

You know what I mean? How sometimes, a cloud of smoke might blur that space so that who you are and who the world thinks you are seems to be the same thing? With fresh air and no reason to even comb your hair in the morning as your only influences, your mind either gets restless and bored or you start spending time with some pretty profound thoughts.

If I ever had a profound thought, I never felt I could lay claim to it. I knew myself too well for that. Even when I didn't know the word for it, inspiration was filling the air around me and when you are spoon-fed inspiring thoughts, how can you take credit for that?

I rode a lot of colts during that time, anything that someone would pay me to ride. I remember one Appaloosa stud, about 5 years old, never ridden. His name was Lucky and he had striking color patterns on his grey and white hide.

I brought him home in our truck and starting riding him down skid roads, occasionally spotting bear paw prints in the mud around the puddles from last night's rain. I didn't have fancy places to break a horse there, I didn't even have any flat ground. No round pen or arena. No barn. Just a hillside corral, ride him a little til he bends his head left or right when you pull on the reins of the bosal, then open the gate and don't come home til he's darn good and tired.

The owners wanted to come pick him up when I got done my 30 days on him, but I said, "If he ain't broke enough for me to ride him the 25 miles back to your ranch, then I'm cheatin' you." And so I have a faded color photo of me bundled up for cold weather on a big Appy stallion, ready to head out over the back roads and mountains to deliver him to his owners. I think that was the last ride he ever had. Sad when that happens. Lucky was a good boy.

One thing happened you'll never believe, but I swear it's true. I heard a Bigfoot one night, bellowing outside our cabin. I'll tell that story another time, but that night will stay with me forever and I've heard many other stories about Sasquatch encounters since then and they all have a commonality with my experience.

We had some folks we knew who lived a couple of miles away and they would leave books in my mailbox all winter long. When I got done reading them, I'd put them back into their mailbox with a note. Starved for entertainment, as Too Slim from Riders in the Sky would say, I'd read anything that was left in there.

One day, I rode the old draft mare out to the box. Astride her broad, bare back, it was like riding on a comforter. Her name was Belle and what an incredible logging horse she was. She'd skid a log down to the "deck" of logs without anyone driving her, just pull right up to the side of the deck like she knew just where those logs had to go and wait for someone to unhook her. Then she'd go back up that skid trail alone to the logger in the woods, ready to pull down another log, log after log, all day.

I leaned over and opened the box to find an interesting-looking book in there. "Born Again" by Chuck Colson. I sure wasn't interested in anything religious, but I knew that the whole Watergate thing had gone right over my head when it was in the news, and I was interested in learning about it. Besides, as I said, it was winter in the northwoods and I was hungry to read anything that I hadn't already read five times.

to be continued...

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