By Baxter Black: QCS columnist
It’s the kind of day every cowboy dreams of. Almost makes you wish they weren’t numbered. When the desert is green, it’s like Wyoming when the wind’s not blowing, or a sunny winter day in Ohio. It’s early fall. Still supposed to be hot today but we’ve got morning cloud cover so at 8:30 it’s not bad.
Two days ago we dumped a handful of cows in this canyon pasture. They haven’t found the water yet so our job this morning is to push ’em back to the water trap and start over. First trick, of course, is to find ’em. Not as simple as it is in some places. Several ridges, arroyos and big bosques of mesquite look from the top of a ridgeline like green lakes amongst sandy hills and rocky fords. I always empathized with those cowmen in Missouri and elsewhere who run cows in the woods. Especially since they don’t even have any high ground to ride up on to take a look.
Lo and behold there was a flash of white in the sea of mesquite green. Maybe the white cow. I’d like to say a Charolais but I suspect she’s not purebred. The white spot disappears but we’ve got their location. This saves us riding clear to the backside.
The monsoon rains have been plentiful, grass is abundant, and though it’s still green it’s beginning to go to seed. Down in the brush where the mesquite, cat claw and white thorn rake at our leggings, we ride as the horses pick their way like pole bending porpoises.
The wild flowers are rioting, so fragile they melt in your hand; yellow daisies, orange poppies, delicate white blossoms with petals no bigger than a grain of rice, purple morning glories, little blue cornets, giant ivory jimsomweed trombones! Guajia with its feather dusters. And starring in its fall bloom, the bulbous porkypinish barrel cacti with their slashes of deep red that gleam as your eyes constantly scan for tracks and cows.
Even the light green and rust colored lichens decorating the rocks are reveling in the day. Jackrabbits are fat and the deer are everywhere you look. All the four-footed grazers and browsers are enjoying the heavy mesquite bean crop and the giant stalks of many century plants have been gnawed to a ragged stump.
I don’t know if the deer or coyotes or javalinas, cow dogs or hawks, rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, quail, mountain lions or cows appreciate what a glorious day this is, but I know one cowboy who understands, this is as good as it gets.