Purple Cowboy sat down at the small rectangular table by a window in his cabin kitchen and listened as rain crinkled leaves and thunder rumbled in harmony. It was July and even in the mountains it had been a hot, dry couple of weeks. PC had a serious look on his face — almost sad, I thought. I didn’t say anything. Just started eating a slab of baked salmon PC placed in front of me on a small plate at the opposite end of his table. I ate quietly — except for what I considered to be extra loud crunching made by crackers I used to transport a bite of salmon from plate to mouth. I’m not used to seeing PC so quiet and introspective. I know, however, that when he is that way, its best not to ask “What’s up?”
I have not seen Purple Cowboy since before Christmas of ’17. He’s been on the trail opening new territory and shoring up some outposts that were in a bit of disarray. He sent me a message to join him at this cabin. I arrived early Sunday morning after riding all night. PC fixed us a breakfast of beef and eggs with strong black coffee. We ate on the deck watching the sun come up then PC showed me my room and I crashed until late afternoon. I wanted to know what was going on, but figured I’d learn in time. He did not invite me here for company. PC made his famous pancakes for supper and served them up with some blueberry honey made not far from his cabin, milk from a nearby dairy, fresh squeezed orange juice and another round of strong black coffee.
After we cleaned up the pancake plates and makings, we walked to the barn, brought our horses in and gave them a good currying and brushing. Ace’s dark liver coat gleamed almost black with a light patina of sweat and enhanced the silky flaxen mane that lay on the right side of his neck. PC picked up my saddle and took it out to his split rail saddle rack just outside the barn door. His large saddle was already astride the rail and he placed mine behind his. PC pitched me a bar of glycerin saddle soap and we went to work on our leathers. PC’s saddle must be over 60 years old. I could see where new latigo and been laced into new leather that was patching the old. Some of the leather was worn so smooth it glistened without polish. I could barely make out what had once been hand tooled flowers and initials. Mine wasn’t quite that worn, but it was well “broken in” and curved to caress my butt, thighs and knees, not to mention each fender was twisted at just the right angle for each leg to fit comfortably in a stirrup. PC had taught me that lesson early on. “The better care you take of your equipment the more comfortable you will be as the two of you get older.” Of course, back then, getting older was not a prominent thought. Now it is!
Monday morning, after more good steak and eggs, we saddled up and rode the 2.5 miles to Climber’s Family Country Store. We loaded our saddle bags with supplies and made the trip back to his cabin. PC asked me to put the supplies away and told me he’d be back mid-afternoon. I joined him at the barn when he rode in on his blazed faced dark bay gelding Pilot. PC unsaddled and carried his saddle to join mine on the saddle rack. I led pilot over to the water trough where he drank a nice long draw of the cool mountain water. PC dipped a water bucket in the trough a couple of times and poured water over Pilot, He used a special carved and oiled piece of teak wood to scrape off the water warmed by Pilot’s body heat. I laughed when I saw the salmon PC pulled from his saddle bags. PC just walked on to the cabin and started his stove and fixed the salmon for our supper. We both finished our filets about the same time. I took our plates to the sink, washed them off and set them aside to drain. PC, eerily quiet, was looking out at the rain.
“Doc?” (Oh shit! When Purple Cowboy calls me “Doc”, things are about to happen — or at least some things are about to change.)
Purple Cowboy is my muse. He’s been awol for awhile. If you want to see how things are changing, clap (like) and share with your friends.