Rekindle the Sensations of Freedom

Apache Story Teller

The great annual happening, the monsoons, are always eagerly anticipated here in the high desert, and the other day Danny launched once again into the annual conversation we all like to have at this time of the year, the discussion of thunder in the distance and the glimpse of faraway lightning, way down in Mexico. This conversation spans the centuries – I bet that the ancient people, who lived here all those years ago, were even more obsessed with weather than we are now – imagine that not only was there no faucet to turn on, but there was no well to get the water from, and, if it didn’t rain and fill the lakes and little water holes, you were pretty well done. It lends new meaning to the phrase ‘living from day to day’, doesn’t it! In fact, there is a theory that the people who predated the Apaches here from around 800 AD to about 1450 AD, were driven out by a 40 year drought. The alternative theory is that it was the Apaches who drove them out – I think either one would do it for me!

And today, finally, joy of joys, it clouded up and dumped half an inch of rain on us – and, while we would like to have more, any amount is welcome! Immediately, it seems, the country brightens up – the grime is washed off the leaves, the trees straighten up, and the dust settles – and, if you’re in the cattle business, you begin to hope that perhaps this might be a good year after all! And for all this talk of the desert, it was interesting, the other day, to see that the temperatures on the east coast were well over the hundred, while here in southern Arizona we were merely in the low nineties. Of course, by “here” I do mean here, in the mountains – it was hotter in Tucson, and hotter yet in Phoenix.

And Head Wrangler Sarah has just got herself a new dog. It’s a stray puppy that someone dropped off near our gate – just awful how people can even do that! He appears to be a mix of Labrador and something else, and seems a nice, loving little dog. Of course, the word ‘loving’ is entirely open to interpretation. My dog Tuffy begs to differ. She fluctuates between thinking he’s sort of OK, and perhaps a good addition to the play population of dogs here, which really only contains Carlos’ K9 to date, and then the horrid thought seizes her that perhaps the stranger is destined to come home with us! And, let’s face it, there’s only so much room on a queen bed, and by the time a dog lies across it, it barely leaves room for the human slave, so how would this work? As I write, Sarah has taken the yet unnamed new addition off someplace, and Tuff is lying stretched out in front of my office door, which she is prepared to defend with her life.

This reminds me of a story I told some guests the other day about a long ago guest from Germany, who came here without his wife, but with about twenty photographs of his dog. The dog was a large, handsome German Shepherd. As photograph after photograph unreeled before my eyes, I began to get a bit dizzy, but not so dizzy that I hadn’t noticed that there was no photo of his wife.
Bemused, I said “So – does he sleep on the bed with you?” The answer came fast and definite: “Of course!” I gulped, took another look at the huge dog and said, somewhat weakly, “And … do you have a king size bed?” The proud dog father paused a bit and then said “N-o-o-o … but” (triumphantly – “I have a small wife!” Ach, sehr gut!

Those of you who have been following my horse Tequila’s battle with squamous cell carcinoma on an unmentionable part of his anatomy will be glad to hear that we undertook yet another trip to the horse hospital, where the veterinarian again froze off little bits of recurrent cancerous tissue. Tequila, who knew very well what was coming, decided that he would not, under any condition, present the offending member for the treatment, but kept it nicely tucked up, so that finally he had to be given expensive tranquilizer injections, thus probably doubling the bill – and certainly the time it took! So far I have invested an ungodly sum of money in his condition, but I am so glad we found it in time and that it is responding to the cryogenic treatment. He is a special horse, my old grump, and he had, until now, never, ever, in all his years, been to a veterinarian – so I guess I owe him.


And, not to overlook my wonder horse, Comanche – he is truly an amazing creature! Last night, Jimmy, who lives close to the corrals, heard a loud banging on some sort of metal. He got out of bed and went and looked. The banging stopped and everything seemed quiet, so he went back to bed….and the banging began again. He took a light, and went out to the corral. There is a sort of alleyway through the barn building with a gate that leads to the horse corral. Comanche was standing at the gate, banging on it with his hoof. When he saw Jimmy coming he stopped banging and marched across the corral to the fence at the south east end, next to the goat pen, and began banging on that. Jimmy followed him out and what did he see – one of the goats had got his horned head caught in the gate and couldn’t get loose! Now is that amazing, or is it!

Here’s a nice quotation I came across someplace:

A trustworthy horse can provide invaluable therapy for people caught up in a hectic pace. Riding can help a person shed stress and stop the mental conversations that cause it. Few experiences equal a trail ride in the fresh air, especially if there is gorgeous scenery.… There is nothing quite like a rein-swinging walk to lull a person back into natural rhythms; nothing like a brisk trot with its metronome-like quality to invigorate one physically; nothing like a rollicking canter cross-country to rekindle the sensations of freedom. Cherry Hill

So true!! An extension of President Reagan’s saying that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man! And actually, not only riding one, just being with a horse is good for the soul. The other day, sitting there watching Tequila put away his afternoon snack, I defined the sound of happiness – the steady chomp, chomp, chomp of a horse chewing his oats, slobber, slobber, chomp, chomp. And I thought how nice it must have been in the old days, when, at the end of a day’s work, you could sit in the barn a bit, and listen to the quiet chewing, breathing, and general contentment of the livestock. Of course, that would be greatly aided by the fact that you were pretty tired from a hard day’s work yourself. Unfortunately, tired today isn’t the same as tired used to be. Nowadays, all too often, it’s tired in the head, which rather prevents sleep than helps it.

But, on second thoughts, I guess one always tends to romanticize what one doesn’t have, and this applies particularly to the past. It is so romantic to think of our forefathers, sitting cozily around the fire in the winter, mending the harness while the soup bubbled on the stove – the truth was that they first had to stagger out to the woodpile, lug in some wood, which was likely wet from the snow, stuff it in the stove whose chimney didn’t draw, so the cozy kitchen was quickly full of smoke…. perhaps we’d best settle for today. And I don’t think I would enjoy mending harness, either.

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3 Responses to Rekindle the Sensations of Freedom

  1. I think Angels take on all sorts of forms and Comanche is maybe one of them – either that or he has his own angels in attendance and can pass on their messages!

  2. Claudia says:

    kudos to Comanche

  3. h.w.kaleth says:

    Hi, since I visited your web site for the first time, I read your blog from time to time. It`s always fun and interesting to do.
    Btw, it seems as if you do understand at least a little german. So “hoffentlich bis bald” because I will place my reservation soon. Regards

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