Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 1 at the Ranch: Prayers and Curses.

Today I´ve invited a special guest blogger to Southern Evolution, only, it´s not really a guest blogger, it´s me, in a different time and place.  I´ve been embracing my creative side more and more lately.  Ever since I dropped out of grade 9 art class in favour of taking another science course, I´ve repressed my inner artist.  Art was risky and flaky.  Science was reliable and responsible.  This dicotomy hasn´t been serving as of late so,  I´m allowing my inner artist out of the arts supply closet.

All this repression of the Artist has resulted in some procrastination.  I´ve had a few ideas, and I´ve had not much follow-through.  After an extraordinary 3 week stay on a horse ranch in Southern Alberta last spring, I had big plans to write a series of short stories out of it.  So far, I´ve only completed this one. It was a birthday gift for a friend.  I wanted to share it here, and give myself an extra public push to finish the rest of them.  Time on that ranch was truly an experience of a lifetime.

Let the colours flow.

Day 1 at the Ranch: Prayers and Curses
In late March 2010, I arrived at Sid and Marge’s ranch near Nanton , Alberta with some trepidation. After attending a colt-starting clinic with Sid in 2008 and following that with an exhilerating day  with him and my friend Jen in December riding on the open range, I had basically invited myself to their ranch for three weeks for an intensive working “vacation” riding horses and sponging as much as I could from them about horse training and cattle ranching, and they had agreed. Catching Sid for a brief conversation at the Ray Hunt Memorial event in Texas, in February, I had had to remind him that I was going to be at his house under his direction and mercy in less than a month’s time.
“You won’t fall off will you?”
“No guarantees.” I had said. I did at least get a smirk out of this typically stone-faced 60-something man.
Though I had spoken with Marge a few times on the phone and prompted her to lay out some of their expectations of me during my stay, my efforts were not hugely successful. I’ve had roommates before. I’ve had good, and very bad, roommates. I was trepidatious.
The first evening, we bowed our heads in silent prayer and dug into our dinner. I can’t remember the specifics of that meal, but I know it would have been delicious and hearty and delicious. I was about to begin physical work for up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and had hoped that I would come out a little slimmer for it. I actually gained weight. It was a little like starting livestock on free-choice feed I guess. Always they gorge themselves, then reach an equilibrium. My equilibrium kicked in at about day nine, when my pants were tightening by the hour and I realized that I’d better smarten up with the second helpings of ice cream and rhubarb crisp because this cold Alberta spring required long-johns to fit under my jeans without question. I digress.
At that first dinner, I brought up the topic of expectations and pet peeves, seeing as I’d be living in the same house as these folks for almost a month. “Oh, I can’t think of anything.” Marge gaily chirped, youthful with her head of silver hair cut in wisps just above her shoulders. I prodded a bit further, “Well, for example, is it ok if I shower after you have gone to bed?”
“Oh, yes, that would be fine. Just please turn the fan off when you are finished, because it’s right below our bedroom.”
“Ok.” At this point I decided it was time to head for the heart of the matter. Taking a deep breath, I said, “I am a little worried about something.” I tripped into my next sentence. “Sometimes, I’m a bit of a potty mouth.” Sheepish expression.
They stared at me, blankly. I tried another approach. “Sometimes, I swear.” Then I rushed into the next bit about how, here, I was really going to try not to, and I want to be very respectful, but it might slip out, yadda, yadda.
Very quickly, their previously warm, then blank expressions, became very serious and grim ones. “Oh, we do not use bad language here.”
“I know [you don’t use bad language here], and I’m going to try very hard not to while I’m here. But if I get startled by a horse or something, it might slip out accidentally.”
“It won’t [slip out] if you think about it.” Marge, the sweet old lady had suddenly become a stern, fierce crone.
Of course, the thought that immediately flashed through my mind was, “I am so fucked.”

1 comment:

  1. Now if you could just add a few pencil sketches to the story you'd have a best-seller!! I can see you sitting at the table now....