Monday, November 3, 2008

Winter is Coming

You can see it in the clouds. The "horse tails" are whipping to the southeast, as seen in this picture taken yesterday out on the road to the lake southeast of town. They indicate a cold front is about two-three days away.

Don Morgan, a New Mexico rancher taught me that. I worked for him outside of Fort Sumner when I was 21-22 after dropping out of college. In the Great Southwest there's little else but the weather to talk about. I needed that simplicity at the time. It was good, clean, healthy work and my horse was a better horse than I was a cowboy. You can imagine how humbling it was to sit on a horse like that and let him make all the decisions about cutting and herding without interference. It was like being powerless.

It was really, really like being powerless when that horse spotted the barn from high up on a ridge. The cattle herding was over. He headed straight for the barn and there was no stopping him. I just had to go with it.

It was a relief that nobody made fun of me when I finally made it back out to the branding in the old Jimmy. But then, ranchers and their cowboys are so notoriously stoic, the polite grins I was getting when I got back probably would have been interpreted by a native New Mexican as a denigrating laugh-fest worth a good barroom brawl after-hours. To a boy from the city like myself, I was just happy they all kept their mouths shut and left me alone.

How was I to know you were supposed to beat your horse for that kind of impudence? At any rate, the horse seemed to intuit that he'd never get a beating from a city slicker like me. I even tried twisting his ear. Nothing short of a beating was ever going to deter that horse from his destination and if I had tried, he'd have probably kicked my ass.

But I'm having the last laugh you see; that sombitch is long since dead and pecked over by buzzards of "the high chaparral." The "better cowboys" knew not to even ride him. But what a cutting horse he was! You could have put Howdy Doody in the saddle and that horse would have done his thang.

You can barely make her out, but my dog Honey is pictured nose buried in the earth about a half-inch up on the far right edge of the windmill photo -- black fur with the white shoulder. She's just a spot really. Click-on the photo for an enlarged version.

This windmill photo was interesting without the added effects, but a little color saturation, some sharpening and lots of added grain to give it the look of an old painting and folks around here will soon be thinking I've been working in oils. It's amazing what a Nikon D80 can do to get an old timer out of the house and into the sunlight, even at sunset, even if photographs of western windmills have long been a cliché, even if admitting the cliché is cliché, and so on.

The really good thing about windmills though, is that they remind me of water. Some days, cues and triggers like this can be very important.

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