Tales from a Texas Ranch from a City Boy with a Cowboy Hat
I was working on another story about the Coke County cowboy, Vic Collett, immersed in my thoughts, memories, choice of words and phrases when I remembered I had an errand to run to the post office.
So, I jotted a few notes by hand on the tablet I always keep nearby to jog my memory for when I returned to writing, gathered up Sierra the Dog who goes everywhere with me, stepped through and locked the front door.
Locking the front door in San Angelo is not really necessary but old habits from living in the big city are hard to break (not that I really want to because I tend to the paranoid).
The weather was still with overcast clouds; about 85 degrees.
As I opened the pickup truck’s door to load up Sierra, I noticed the dark sky off to the west.
Rain!” I said to myself, and gazed through the neighborhood trees at the dark gray clouds covering the western sky that only a few hours earlier was pure azure blue and cloudless.
“Hot ziggity, rain!”
As I drove to the post office, I kept an eye on the western sky, anxious to get back to my computer to call up the latest weather report.
When I finally did get back to my studio office and log in to the weather, up popped an alert – severe weather warning…with yellow and red on the map moving from west to east over San Angelo and Coke County to the north, where my family’s ranch is.
“Uh oh…” came the thought. I had left windows open in several of the buildings at the ranch to let the mostly ever-constant west Texas breezes air out the dwellings after having been locked up tight over the winter months. “Uh oh…”
Hastily, I gathered up some gear and, and as I loaded it into the pickup, it began to rain. Big raindrops that fell hard, stinging my shoulders as they fell and making a racket on the metal of the pickup.
Sierra the Dog sat on the covered porch, watching.
With my gear loaded up, I coaxed her to get in, which she did in a flash, dodging the raindrops which were falling more thickly now, sounding almost like bullets as they hit he hood of the truck. I wondered if there might be hail a coming.
The thunder thundered and streaks of lightning creased the dark clouds above.
I scrambled into the drivers seat, cranked up the engine, pulled out of the driveway and proceeded to follow my route to the highway to the ranch, windshield wipers brushing the welcome rain from the truck’s windshield.
As I made it to the ranch highway, I ran through large puddles of street water sending sprays both right and left with that squashy sound. Not that they could rival street rainwater puddles in Houston when it rained there, but impressive for San Angelo.
I sped my way north on the highway, thinking of those open windows in the buildings at the ranch.
Now, there’s a high ridge of buttes and mesas that separate the Concho Valley (where San Angelo is) and the Colorado Valley (where my family ranch is).
As I ascended that ridge (we call it “The Pass”), the rain lessened, although thunder and lightning seemed to be everywhere.
When I hit the top of the Pass, the rain had dwindled to nothing more than a mist. I turned the windshield wipers off, but noted the lightning bolts clobbering the ground in the distant valley.
When I reached the front gate, there was no rain. As a matter of fact, after crossing the cattle guard and cruising down the entry road, a glance in the rearview mirror revealed that my truck was kicking up dust.
Dust! And here I was minutes before nearly having to float my way through street puddles in San Angelo!
A short expletive escaped my lips (having once been a sailor, I know how to curse). Sierra the Dog cowered a bit, thinking I was unhappy with her. I reached over and scrunched her ears and everything became okay.
Regardless of the dust swirling around the truck when I arrived, first thing was to scurry around and close all the open windows in the nearby buildings, just in case. The wind began to gust…and there was thunder and lightning all around.
No rain though.
So, I broke out the laptop and tried to continue writing. Couldn’t concentrate and decided to check out the deer feeder several hundred yards from the house, with Sierra the Dog reconnoitering.
When I got there and lowered it for inspection, that’s when the rain hit…in bucketfuls.
Sierra made it back to the house with what I would say was “alacrity”and was toweling off when I arrived on the porch with small splashes of rainwater spilling from my boot tops.
“Here!” she said, offering the towel with a smile.
Soaked as I was, I enjoyed the better part of another hour of rain, thunder and lightning.
Ah…I do so love West Texas! Even with the heat, rattlesnakes, scorpions, skunks and the all-too-seldom deluge.
Drop by sometime…perhaps I’ll tell you a story.