Tag Archives: Three Rivers

‘Spry’

 

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JEG:

Despite January rains and El Nino prognostications, we’ve hit a typical winter dry stretch. Instead of 2 weeks warm and 2 weeks cold sometime in February,
the month has been warm, half the days thus far over 70 degrees. Relative perhaps, the trend is dry with expectations of an early and short spring. Stock water resources have nearly recovered, with more grass than cattle after four years dry, we should survive the coming summer and fall well, a familiar concern more normal than not for spring. Our country looks good, wildflowers spreading like wildfire upon the green, snow in the Sierras 1,000-1,500’ higher than we’d like to see. It will change quickly if the mid-70s, without rain for the next ten days, come to pass.

Garnered from branding photos, my ‘looking spry’ has connotations reserved for the old, the aging and antique that startle me, yet somewhat gratified that I can
still rope and ride. I was the old man in the branding pen yesterday with Brent Huntington’s uniformly big calves. Once untracked, I roped well, probably better than when I was younger worrying about how my horse and I would perform in the corral. Nowadays, the challenge is to be some help. On the way off the hill looking down on Three Rivers, Robbin and Terri compared my ‘style’ to that of the old timers, the generation before me, a compliment. To have an effective ‘style’ is beyond any expectations of the last forty-five years of branding calves, what has become more of a mindset apart from just catching that favors first the horse and calf.

Now sorted-off with the elders in this business, what did I have to impart over steak sandwiches and beer instead of politics yesterday? Be grateful that you don’t have to punch someone’s time clock in town, or commute to work, or have to listen to the noise of human neighbors, sirens, traffic. How much of the politics of the world actually touch us here in these hills, change how we have lived and worked over the years? This is another world, a forgotten world we adapt to, and no matter what the majority decides, what laws it passes, it has to eat.

So yes, I have been granted a little luck, to ‘look pretty spry whether tossing a loop or wielding an iron’.

J

 

THREE RIVERS CEMETERY

Naked slopes, steep manzanita red
with rock and leafless oaks, fall
into the slow Kaweah and reach

into the blue from the headstones
of pioneers, terraced family plots
facing west, all looking up

as generations gather, heads bowed.
How many times has Earl sung
to this timeless skyline, how many

of his cattle calls still reverberate
in these canyons? No cowboy song,
he picks “School Days” for her childhood

chums, gray octogenarians recalling
the twinkle beneath jet-black hair.
Simple sendoff with simple words,

everyone of us believing she will be
welcomed “In the Garden”—everyone of us
converted for a good, long moment.

                                                  for Barbara Brewer Ainley

 

 

Obituary