By Lyn Moncus: QCS Columnist
Those of us who had an older brother were very fortunate, even though they might not have agreed because they have fairly constant shadows during our early years.
Clough, my brother, was eight years older than I, but he was the only one who knew the difference when we lived in the canyons because I thought we were the same age and same size from the beginning. At first, he carried me all over those canyons and kept me entertained when he wasn’t in school. He taught me the joy of sliding down those sand rocks before I could walk and would carry me across the canyon to visit Grandmother.
Once I learned to walk, he was in real trouble because I became a major tagalong. We became rather good mountain goes as we moved about those canyon walls and rarely ha major accidents because he was very careful to see I didn’t fall off the taller bluffs. When we would be climbing some of the steeper sides, he would stay behind to catch me should I begin to slide backward, and when we would be going down, he would lead so I could roll toward him should I lose my footing.
Neither of us ever outgrew the need to be in the country and in those canyons particularly. When I’d come home from college, he would often take me with him to hunt artifacts and would try to prove I was losing my agility because of sitting at the desk too long. Of course, I wasn’t about to let him know that he had a good point and would push to keep up with him, no matter how much it hurt.
I have a feeling he used those later years to get even with me for all the problems I had caused him in our youth. After I was teaching at NMSU, he would plan major hikes when we would be home at the same time. As we both became a bit less agile, he would blaze trails across more even ground so we wouldn’t have to do much climbing and would promise we’d find many unique artifacts at the end of the trail. Sometimes I had the notion he had already found all artifacts in the area because he would describe things we certainly never came across during our long treks.
On one occasion, we were going to scout around an area where a wagon train had a little trouble, and we had to cross a section of quick sand. He told me to follow in his footprints and not to stop until we reached the other side. Being more than a little uneasy, I hardly let him put a foot down before I was in that disappearing track and nearly ran over him before we reached solid ground. He always knew when I was scared silly and would laugh as we clashed along or would stop just so I would run around him in order to reach safety. On occasion, I would even find a few chips of flint he had left behind on earlier trips, but I didn’t really care because we were having such a good time together.
Whenever we could find a large flat rock, we would sit on it in order to spend an hour or so recalling our years in the canyons and the many adventures and misadventures we had together. We always recounted the story about his saving my life when my horse had a runaway as we were going down a canyon road.
We were riding bareback, and my horse got excited when he didn’t have the lead so he decided to race down the hill while I was yelling at top voice. Clough managed to ride alongside and jumped from his horse to stop mine. He was not happy because I was echoing the canyons but began to laugh when we finally stopped and I hadn’t fallen off. He said he didn’t know I could ride that well, even with a saddle, and I told him I wasn’t about to fall off because I could have been hurt. We had many laughs about that incident and how he was in far more danger than I when he landed in front of Spud and stopped the race.
Yes, an older brother was a great companion and often a hero.