A few days ago the local cattle drive went by. Because it is timely, and the novel excerpt was already in place, I’ll just shoehorn a brief observation in between Cost of Empire posts.
I have mentioned the drive before; it is an institution in the corner of the foothills where I live. Every spring about this time a local cattleman drives a few hundred of his cattle from pastures here in the lower foothills to others higher up the Sierra. Local cowboys and would-be cowboys (and cowgirls) volunteer to ride. Wouldn’t you?
A few dozen of us who don’t have horses always line up to watch. Every spring, and every fall when they return, my wife and I jump into the pickup, watch the herd go by, the drive backroads to leapfrog their progress and watch again. We usually manage a third time before they move out of range.
It may seem like cheap entertainment to you, but I grew up on a dairy farm, and every farm boy wants to be a cowboy. No exceptions.
This year, on our third stop, about a dozen dairy cows in an adjoining pasture ran to the fence, bawling, to watch the herd go by. It was almost as if they were saying, “Take me with you!”
I had a vision of a half dozen ill-dressed farm kids in the 1860s, standing outside their sod schoolhouse, watching a covered wagon moving west and wishing that they could share in the Great American Adventure. I’ll never write it, but I’ll bet there’s a good novel in there somewhere.