Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Trail

When I was a kid we called it “the cattle drive.” The most anticipated event of the year (except for Christmas, of course). The Pratts, the ranch I married into, make a similar trek each spring. They call it “the Trail,” the 5-6 day walk to summer range. 
The first half of the herd made it to their destination by Saturday. On Wednesday it was a light day, so Seth and I took them by ourselves from Boosies to Cedar Creek, up Womach Hill, and on to White Slides. Every curve and mountain, every creek, every natural marker has a name on the trail. Seth rode Classic, his 4-year-old colt, and I rode lively 14-year-old Birdie. Kate and Cassie went along as well, our border collie dogs.

At Cedar Creek we stopped to water the herd for an hour or so. It’s a special place to me because it’s the site of my Mom’s childhood home. Grandpa homesteaded the ground and made a meager living dry farming. They were forced out eventually, as were all the other homesteaders in the hills. Drought and late frosts doomed the farmers in the end. A fenced marker commemorates the spot where my grandmother served as postmistress of the community of Alridge. All that’s left of the once thriving neighborhood is a rusted combine and a few fallen down cabins.

Several trees still stand at the old homesite. I’ll bet grandma and grandpa planted the silver leaf maple. It provided shade and shelter to their family; now it harbors cavity nesters in its aged trunk. A goldfinch sings from the top of the elm. The creek flows. The breeze rustles the grass. Life continues.

They took their turn and now it is mine.

Grandma's maple

lounging at lunchtime with Kate

done for the day

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