Howdy Friends!

I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the tiny white car with the local newspaper’s logo on the door parked halfway between the barn and house. Every once in a while they’d send an intern out to have a chat with Grandpop and write a story. I found them in the barn. From the looks of things, and the pale face of the young intern, it may have been his first venture into a horse barn, and first time sitting on a straw bale. I smiled at his attempt to settle in a way that the straw didn’t poke him.

Grandpop tossed a nod my way, introduced us, then went back to brushing Blue. I leaned against the saddle stand, back out of the way, to watch. And listen.

“So they tell me you were in the war.” The young man held pen to tablet. “Iraq?”

Grandpop stopped, laid the brush on Blue’s back and chuckled. “I’m a might older than that … World War 2.” He turned away briefly to tug on Blue’s mane, but I knew he was hiding his eyes. Thinking of those years is always hard on him. He’d rather talk about horses, ranching and family. The important things, he would say.

“Really,” the intern said. “Wow, I never thought of that war … don’t know much about it.” He made a few notes. “Where you always a … cowboy? How did you get the ranch?”

“A cowboy?”

“It’s not like I had it pictured, but sure, you’ve got land, horses, cattle. Seems like a cowboy. Except you ended up with a farm, or ranch.”

“Ended up with a ranch, did I?” Grandpop pulled his hat, scratched his head, pretending to ponder that one.

“Sure look at it all. I’ve only been here a few weeks, this is my first visit to a real farm … I mean you must have had some lucky breaks to get all this. That’s what I’d like to touch on for my story.”

Grandpop pointed to the big oak. “How would you like to take a little stroll?”

“How far. I mean, what for?”

“Oh I’d like to walk a little, stretch these old legs a bit, and show you the view.”

I followed behind as we made our way to the big oak, walked between the mares, who promptly fell in line behind us, much to the reporter’s worry. Grandpop had a little fun, respectfully, assuring him mares don’t eat humans. Even city slickers, I heard him add with a friendly chuckle.

We walked beyond the majestic tree and on up to a high knoll just outside the woods, pausing every now and then for Grandpop to lean on his cane and catch his breath. Grandpop used each break to point out one vista or another.

The young reporter made notes as he listened. Finally we reached our destination. A little campsite just outside the fence at the edge of the woods. I’d not been there for years, and from the looks of it no one else had either. The ring of rocks for the campfire was still there, waiting.

“From here you can see pretty near every bit of our spread. One of my favorite spots. Almost built the house up here, but, my wife liked the valley better. We used to come up here real regular for picnics, campfires and the like. Now not so much.” He grinned wide, “Next time I’d better ride a horse, this trek about wore me out … Our youngest son runs the outfit now, and he’s doin’ a mighty fine job.” Grandpop settled down on the log hewn bench he’d made decades ago.

“So there was no house? How did you live here?”

“Well, we were younger then, and bunkin’ in a tent that first summer was a high time. Yes sir, that was a mighty special summer. We had a 2 room house up by fall. Over the years we poured a lot of hard work, sweat and love into this little outfit, and by golly it sure was worth every effort. Hey, it’s a long walk back, how about a little campfire, since we’re here anyway. I should rest a bit, and we can finish up your story.” He pointed toward the woods, nodded to the reporter, grinned my way. “Would you mind gatherin’ a few sticks for us?”

Grandpop used his cane to brush the debris from the fire ring, settled back on the bench, then talked the young reporter through building his first campfire.

When the first tiny yellow flames licked at the twigs the young man rocked back, smiled wide at Grandpop, “I never did anything like that before! Look at my fire go!”

Grandpop leaned on his cane, stood up and offered his hand to the young man. “These days there’s too much talk about some folks havin’ more than others and being angry and jealous about it. There’s an old cowboy sayin’ … God put the firewood in the woods for everybody, it’s up to each of us to gather it and build our campfire.” They shook hands. “That’s the story you should write, young fella.”

Gitty UP ~ Dutch.

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