It’s spring – already?
It seems like we just got settled in for the winter and now spring has poked its head out, begging to be reckoned with. It was a coincidence, I guess, that it all happened so fast, going from the announcer’s booth at the Junior Olympics and beautiful spring skiing to a world of animal husbandry and production. As the seasons change, our circle of friends changes and we readjust our thoughts.We made a relaxed dash for southeastern Colorado on Sunday (my daughter Lauren, Ty, Sara and I) just in time to have a huge, late lunch with Lauren’s mom, Francesca, and Willie Fender. Soon, it was time to move along to the big city, and, you might not know this, but Pueblo has a “right-on” symphony orchestra, under the direction of Chinese-born Dr. Jacob Chi. If you haven’t seen Chi in action, your appreciation for the hidden ballet found in orchestra conductors is lacking. He is poetry in motion, and, I have to admit, watching his intensity brought tears to my eyes.We spent some time with yodeler, singer and poet Gary McMahan, an old saddle buddy of mine from years ago, and got some heart-wrenching words of wisdom from storytellers Baxter Black and Waddie Mitchell. Throw in some guys I’d never heard of and mix ’em up with stalwarts like Don Edwards and Michael Martin Murphey, singing along with the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra, and you could say it was a helluva night. I think we raised near a million bucks for the 2007 blizzard disaster relief fund for southeastern Colorado.The show was about friends and neighbors helping each other through tough times, and that feeling of camaraderie stayed with me. You get done with a big get-together like that, there isn’t much to do but go home and get back to the life you live, alone mostly, with the exception of a coterie of companions that might make a different man shake his head.I dunno, but the horses seemed glad to see me, the skies were blue and the weather warm. It was a great day for spring skiing, a day that couldn’t miss, but something held me back, kept me from heading to the mountain in my trusty red Jeep. Some things are better not fought, and along about 11, after arguing with myself for a while, I headed out to the corral and caught a horse. Soon, the three I have at home were standing around me as I worked the shedding blade and brush, removing dead hair from their now-unneeded winter coats. They know I get generous with the horse candy when I’m working ’em like that, and they tolerate me real well at grooming time. My daughter’s dog, Earl, who I’m sure can’t live without me and is a fair-weather mutt to boot, was excited to be my assistant, lying in the warm grass by the pens and feeling like the true master of his domain that he surely is.Everyone has wintered well, and there is a calmness that wasn’t there last spring. The horses don’t fight as much over the feed, and I’ve noticed lately that the young horse, Drifter, lets one of the old boys, Donald, nudge his way into his (Drifter’s) feed, just a bit. The other old trooper, Telby, who you couldn’t drive off a feed bucket with a case of dynamite, is left to fend for himself, which is the way it needs to be.It’s a long way to spring branding time, it seems, and I haven’t even got the buck out of these broncs yet, but before you know it, we’ll be riding the fall cattle range with our hats pulled down hard, faces into the wind-driven snow, rounding up the last of the hard-to-find SOB’s and wondering where the hell summer went. And hoping the ski mountain will open early.Tony Vagneur sure seems hard to please some days. Read him here every Saturday and send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For the past five-plus years I have sat in a big chair in a small office on Hyman Avenue watching life in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley play out in front of me.