Have you ever awakened to the smell of coffee, bacon, and fresh bread? Or, awakened with the smell of pine in your nose? Have you ever been rolled up in your bed roll, with a camp fire, snapping and popping, as it dies out for the night? With the stars so bright, and so many, that it seems that you can see the heavens go on forever.
Have you ever watched the sun rise from the back of a good cow pony? Or watched as trout jump in the early morning light on a beaver pond? Or awaken to the sound of a breeze blowing gently through the aspens? Have you ever listened to cows as they settle in for the night? Have you listened to the sounds of the forest as it starts a new day? Or the sounds of the forest as it readies for nightfall?
The sound of a small stream as it rolls over stones and tumbles over on small water falls. It makes for a lazy late afternoon of dangling your feet in the water. As you prepare to head back to camp for a supper of homemade biscuits, beans, steak, and apple pie fresh form the chuck wagon cook. The sound of someone chopping wood and the voices of men who are gathering around to fill their plates after a hard day of rounding up cows.
These are the things that I grew up with and the hunting, fishing, and camping all those years ago. I was just being on the ranch that I spent so much time on with family and friends and the men who worked on the ranch. They were so kind to me and my sister, all of them teaching a youngster the things he should know, like how to ride, rope, mend fence, and all the other things about ranching and being a cowboy.
They also taught how to see things from their eyes. Like, how to know when a cow is about to calf. Or when it's time to bring in the herd. And to cut out the yearlings that need to go to market. They also taught us how your word and a hand shake meant something. And, they taught fun things like how to play mumbly peg with a pocket knife. And how to roll a smoke. (I never could get one to roll right.) Horseshoes, poker, ( I always lost my allowance), riding a yearling calf (before mutton busting), how to saddle a horse (which is really hard to do when you are only about seven years old.)
They teased, and joked, and picked on me. And I enjoyed every minute. All I ever, really wanted to do was to be a cowboy. But times changed and I got older. The ranch is still there. It's owned by some big shot rich guy. All the places that I roamed, fished, and hunted are still there. Over the years my family and friends have been to these same places and have enjoyed some of the things that I enjoyed as a child.
But, people pass on and things change. The places of my youth are still there, but you can no longer get to them. Condos, cabins, and ranches are now on land that I use to roam. Beaver ponds that gave me so many hours (years!) of fishing are gone, drained, covered over, or destroyed just so some rich person can have their BIG cabin in the woods.
Before they closed it all off. I was able to do a little fishing in a beaver pond that I used to fish in when I was 17 or so. And not too far from this beaver pond was a group of aspen trees, and behind those was some heavy timber. This is where I got my very first deer. Now the aspens are gone. The heavy timber is gone. In their place is a road and a big metal building (a workshop, I think.) Someone has placed a mobile home there.
I wish that I could go back with a good cow pony and some cows to a place that I can call my own.
I just wanted to be a cowboy.