Some Nice Fitting Boots
Today Jer bought a real pair of cowboy boots, the kind you wear forever and ever and pass on to your son or daughter or daughter’s son. The kind you wear in until you wear them out. I’m a big fan of cowboy boots (B I G) and supported this purchase wholeheartedly. Jeremy actually, almost singlehandedly, operates this establishment and definitely wrangles cows on a near daily basis. He earned them. However, at the little mom-and-pop shop out in The Middle of Nowheresville, TX where we made the purchase, the salesman greeted us like fragile city dwellers who probably had never stepped foot into boots. I’m guessing he saw us drive up in the Subaru, made a quick judgment based on Jer’s jogging shoes and my Dansko clogs – two precious Austinites out for a country drive on Black Friday. He gently asked if we were “from out of town?” and sweetly told us how to test for a good fit in a boot. We smiled and nodded. Picked a pair and headed home where Jer promptly pulled on his work boots and put up a new stretch of fence for the cows to give them access to the big red barn. I came out to help and thought of the salesman as we stood under a sky spitting ice, braced against wind from the north while we scratched the backs of animals covered in the weather that just blew in, stamping our own feet against the cold. He was a nice man who meant well, but over these long years, we’ve learned how to check for a good fit. Thank you.
Lately we’ve both gone all nostalgic about this place. I think it’s likely because of our recent progress on the new land , 25 acres of which are now successfully converted into 3 new pastures for rotational grazing for the cows. It’s where we will also start letting our little wethers out to browse in an effort to slowly, slowly clear away the overgrowth. Although the land still requires a huge amount of work to convert it into true grazing pasture, this is a victory for us and represents the end of a lengthy first attempt at cutting into this wild space. Jeremy started the process over a year ago. His work was interrupted by all the usual kinds of drama (day job, historic flooding, day job, historic flooding, day job, twin babies, etc). Now we strap the babies against us many nights each week and trek out into the original portion of the farm through the gates recently added to let us onto the new land, a tangled expanse where Jeremy has painstakingly carved paths, planted grass seeds, installed fences. It’s where Lollipop died. It’s where most of the fences have been damaged and torn (then repaired. then torn. then repaired) over the course of this treacherous past year. It’s where we hike up hills, look out over wild spaces and talk about what it will be. It feels sort of like the beginning all over again.
An absolutely lovely woman contacted me recently with some questions about getting started, about the very, very early days, and decision-making. It was a small request and one I was happy to help with in my small way. Then it occurred to me: I was her a few years ago. I still am her although my questions are different, but still…starting from scratch, all of that. That was me, that was us. Now I’m answering questions, acting as cheerleader and will hopefully be a small part of someone else’s foundation. For her, I edit the story enough to be encouraging, not too much that I’m false. I want to tell her everything about the ethereal glow of sunrises, the haunting beauty of coyote song, the gripping fear of animal entrails, the worries about weather, about parasites, about birth, about death. But that’s not practical. And it’s not the same, either. She has to want it enough to try for herself, then do it. Then someday she’ll get an email with questions, too.
Thank goodness you can’t read someone’s story just by looking at their face, their clothes, their car, or their shoes. I’m grateful for the man today who saw us as tourists in the country. He made me want to look back and remember how far we’ve come, then realize how far we’ve got to go.