By Wendy Pratt
We spent the last five days in the mountains moving the herd. It was a route we hadn’t taken before and I had worried about it for weeks. I should have saved the stress because it all turned out fine. The cows were very obedient and went exactly where we guided them. We took them in two bunches and had enough cowboy help which made all the difference.
When the cattle were delivered safely and all the help went home, Mark and I stayed overnight in the mountains to make sure the herd stayed put. We had a lovely, quiet evening. The horseflies and deer flies are done for the season and we didn’t encounter one mosquito! I went for a walk and found a bunch of plump serviceberries (or sarviceberries as my Mom would say). And even though my dogs, Dot and Kate, were totally spent after three days of herding, they went with me and lay in the undergrowth while I ate berries and filled a chest pocket for Mark.
As I walked back to the cabin I think I saw September sliding in. The plant life is looking a little haggard and the snowberry bushes have a sprinkling of gold.
By morning, three pairs of cows and calves had come back and found each other. Mark saddled up and took them part way back to the new field. After we loaded the horses, we stopped to make a phone call where we knew we could get service, and saw a biker in the distance pedaling toward us. It wasn’t a young man as we expected, but a “mature” woman all by herself. She asked us if we had any water. She didn’t take much, just topped off her water bottle. We talked about her route (which was crazy difficult) and how far she had come – and how far she still had to go. “And I’m an old woman!” she said. Old, maybe, but most 30-year-olds would love to be so fit.
We convinced her that she was taking the long way around, loaded up her bike and drove her a short distance to the top of the next grade saving her several miles of uphill toil.
When we drove home later we kept expecting to come upon her. I couldn’t believe she made it so far. She showered thanks on us when we finally passed her. She was very tired by then and knew how important the short cut had been to her.
We felt an immediate kinship with this stranger. She envies our horseback rides and our cowboy life. I envy her courage and tenacity – and her glutes! As off-road vehicle use skyrockets, we doubly appreciate a recreationist on a pedal bike. Oh, if only more people could enjoy the magnificent outdoors by natural propulsion.
I brought home a bouquet of dried wildflowers. The ones I enjoyed so much this summer have dropped their blossoms and are in full seed-bearing mode. Flesh colored buckwheat, golden yarrow and tan geranium. As a woman who’s working on my 60th year – and keeping the biker lady in mind – I like the analogy of maturity in nature, more subtle than the flowering season, but equally as beautiful.