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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Just a Stranger Passin' Through...

                                           "I've got a gun in my holster,
                                             A horse between my knees.
                                             I'm goin' to Arizona,
                                             Pardon me boys if you please."

                                                                            Randy Newman
                                                                           "Rider in the Rain"

The Valley. It has been a tedious winter to date, and dangerous too, like the morning I slipped on the frosty deck and like a poleaxed steer, came down unceremoniously across the top steps. If it hadn't have been for the winter padding I'd donned prior, I might yet be wearing plaster clothes, tangled in a web of ropes and pulleys, being served up those mystery meals catered for the hospital bedridden. Now the bruises have faded and my right arm protests only a little when I put it to use.Yes, cold snaps and a couple of snow episodes have made this Valley winter seem interminable.

But not today. I'm afoot in the Valley. The sun has the upper hand. The sky, blue, anticipates swallows. The Valley is green, flush with early spring. It's one of those days, as my old dairyman neighbor Herman Zylstra put it, "When you get new hope."

In a Valley where routines and scenery might, to hurrying passersby, never seem to change, I almost always see something different, a thing of interest directs my thoughts in a strange direction: say, for instance, that heap of boulders Ed Broers has piled like a terminal moraine from an Ice Age past in the field below his "movie star" barn. Yes, the Valley always seems to serve up something of interest....

Today is no different. As I stroll homeward, I see movement far ahead and out of that movement a horse and rider emerge. As they mosey toward me, I hear music. "A musical horse," I think. "Now this is something...." I can see the rider now, a young woman, wearing heeled boots, jeans, a white hoodie, and as if it were a gun and holster, a water bottle at her hip. Her horse, a big black with its tail in a half braid, carries her gently along. A cap topped with a jaunty tassel covers her head and ears. It is a woolen cap of many colors, hand knitted, it appears. I look at her face. High cheekbones, prominent nose, and bronzed complexion bring to mind "Castillan" ethnicity: Spanish. She is no stranger to horses and, as Louis L'amour might say, rides "tall and easy in the saddle." As she passes I give her a friendly smile which she does not return. Nor does she nod a greeting but maintains a stoic pose as she continues. It's as if she's in another world, this stranger, the Argentine pampas, perhaps, instead of Werkhovens' field of grass. On down the road she and her mount continue, tunes billowing out of her clothing.

I can only stare after her and it's then I notice the small backpack. Poking its head out of the pack was the head of a small dog, brown and furry like a koala, its perky ears bobbing with sway of the horse. Mouth open, tongue lolling out, the pup seemed to be smiling as if to say: "Aren't we a sight?"

And indeed they were. I continued on, my thoughts now occupied by what I'd seen. "Who was this stranger on her high horse," I wondered, "this stranger just passing through?" Print this post


  1. Hey that sight looks familiar! :)

    1. So you've seen her, too? Wonder what range she's ridden in from? She looks like she may have lost her lama herd. TMJ