September 5, 2011

After that, the Rest is Easy

Most of my days are spent with folks of all ages and perspectives. It’s energizing. They help me keep one foot in the present and the other poised for the next challenge. However, I seem to have a third foot, firmly anchored in the past. Like a three legged table, there is usually balance. When the call of the past is strong, balance is harder to achieve. 

Today my table tilts. I hear hoof beats, voices, stories, songs. See sweat stained shirts and brows, saddle weary bodies. Feel in my gut the exhaustion and satisfaction of their hard work.

From a distance they were under-estimated, counted on, chastised and romanticized. Up close they were cowboys, ranchers, dirt farmers, ropers and rodeo champions. Before fencing and subdivisions, they annually drove herds to grass, across vast sections of the San Joaquin Valley in CA and up into the Sierras. Kept watch, protected. Defended when necessary.

Most, not all, lived full lives. Married, had children, grandchildren and greater. Passed on lessons of hard work, stepping-up, leadership and self-discipline. Each one was honorable, humble, serious, humorous and kind. Maybe that was luck, but I doubt it. They earned the respect of many without seeking it. Shared bonds of family, community, hardship and success. And, they all understood a good horse could save your life.

These men have been gone for a long while now. Those of us remaining that remember them, do so with respect and love. One of their nephews carries their stories on to others through Cowboy Poetry. They left many for re-telling. We each have some.

Who were these men? They were my uncles, family friends, first love and my father-in-law. Shortly before passing away in his twenties, while juggling college and cattle, that first love said to me, “Chris, I love this work. My favorite time each day is watching the sunrise from horse back. After that, the rest is easy.” Seems a good thing to remember on this Labor Day.

The nephew I mentioned earlier sent me a link to a video that I have been saving to accompany this post. (Thanks Dan) I've seen it so many times, it may be worn out: The Vaquero Song. The wonderful photography is done by David Stoecklein and perfect song by singer/songwriter, Dave Stamey. Thank you both for your generosity and the marriage of your work for this piece. The other photos were taken in Eastern, WA along the Palouse.

Okay, I think my table is back in balance now.


Teresa Evangeline said...

Well. This is simply beautiful. The images you've taken. And the words. You are a true wordsmith. Really. You write beautifully.

The video is full of images I love. Every one. The song I've never heard. Thank you so much for introducing new music to me.

Outstanding post.

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Can't tell you how much I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. Thank you sweet sister. Having a long weekend and not rushing may have some bearing on the outcome. :) Felt good to listen to these voices again. I'm guessing blogger is registering high numbers simply due to my repeated self-edits.

So glad you enjoy the video. Afraid I can't watch it without something nearby for mopping up after. Does the same thing to Rick.

Dave Stamey and David Stoecklein were both new to me, by name, until this video. I think I've have seen a couple of David's photos before. Especially the one with the rider heading to right screen, no hooves touching the ground. Horse flight. Amazing images.

Many, many thanks.

Towanda said...

Hi Chris, I found your blog from your comment on Teresa's post.
As she has already said, this is so beautifully written. It is also such a great tribute to those you've loved.
I've never heard this song before, but it is really beautiful!

Cassa X said...

That's the goal of my life.I used to think there'll be such a place or places waiting for me. I used to think I find it. However,after living for a while,I would find it's not what I thought about. There's beauty,as well as something we don't like.
On the other hand,every place can be extraordinarily beautiful or peaceful,as long as there's such an eye.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I wanted to add, Chris, your mention of your first love is so poignant....

Basket gal said...

What a beautiful way to start my morning...thank you. It brought back many memories of my childhood in Montana being around the cowboys and the cowboy wannabees. A beautiful tribute:)

P.S. The word verification to enter my comment was "vapersam"! I'm sure their is a cowboy with that name somewhere!

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Thank you for your visit and kind thoughts. I've circled around this post since i started the blog, wondering where to begin. They were such fine folks, working hard with a changing way of life racing up behind them.

I agree about the song and so glad you enjoyed it. Don't imagine I would have found it on my own.
Enjoy the day,

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Cassa X,

You said, “every place can be extraordinarily beautiful or peaceful, as long a there is such and eye.” I agree. Our perspective changes and we find it is possible to find beauty, not only in those dreamed of places away, but within and around us. We are all a part of the beauty and the not so beautiful. It gives us that needed perspective.

There is a traditional Night Chant done by the Navajo Native American Tribe. The background and full chant aren't going to fit here, however an excerpt from the chant will.

With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.

The Navajo translation into english, along with being only a portion of the chant, may leave some of the meaning less clear. It is about finding and being in a state of balance or beauty within the universe.

I like it. Find it helpful. It runs through my mind often, though maybe not often enough.
Thank you Cassa. I very much enjoy your contributions.

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

He was a good guy, straddling a slowly vanishing way of life and the future. He had zest for both.

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Mornin' BG,
You, your dad and Montana came to mind as I wrote this. So glad a few old memories were rekindled. Vapersam gave us a good chuckle.

Wannabees. Seems most are simply people living in the wrong time. Stepping back a 100 years or so, there would have been plenty of work to go around. Even for the least skilled. And enough time to get those duds broken in. :) The allure of a less chaotic time is appealing. It's back to work tomorrow.
Love knowing your over there.
Hugs and love,

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