Thursday was officially the first day of spring! A few signs of which have been visible for a while.
The arrival of spring birds; robins, blackbirds, starlings, bluebirds, meadow larks, geese, swans, to name a few and the few brave pussy willows that have triumphed by bursting forth from their winter shells despite intemperate cold.
Calves abound, wee creatures with no inkling of the inhospitable chill that hinders optimum birth, however, remaining in mama’s cosy-womb on a bad day is not a checkable option. Too bad, as weather can swing wilding over the course of a day. Yesterday newborn calves frolicked about the pasture in early morning sunshine. By noon, however, they were sodden, shivering and in search of any available shelter as they were battered by a raging spring snowstorm.
Such is life out on the rangeland; often wild and unpredictable, sometimes calm, though generally out of the control of mere humans. Cowboys roam pastures, aiding any situation where human intervention is helpful.
The hours spent outdoors in the saddle afford those who ride invaluable, intimate close-ups of seldom viewed snippets of nature at its very worst, and in its ultimate glory. Most are aware of the privilege of that marvel, memories inked indelibly in the mind. Amazingly though there are a select few individuals who can ride the same trails daily and see nothing, they remain startlingly oblivious to every nuance of nature (no age-emption).
The forever-in-memory factor was well illustrated two weekends ago at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in a set by singer-songwriter and working cowboy, Ryan Fritz (Saskatchewan). Fritz, some 20-odd years ago, spent some time cowboying on three major B.C. outfits; Douglas Lake, Gang Ranch and Alkali Lake and his cumulative cowboy experiences are now immortalized in song.
All of his material is self-written. One surprise on the weekend, was one of his newer tunes, a ballad about “Riding the Alkali.”
Sometimes, home follows you down life’s highway.
Liz Twan is a rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.