Every summer of my childhood, my family left Los Angeles, and spent a week at a magical place called Rankin Ranch. Thanks to my Dad's initiative, we may have been one of the first families to stay at this new concept of visiting a working ranch. I was probably about 4-5 years old, which puts our visits starting around 1966-7?
Stays on the ranch included fresh air, the smell of the field grasses, feeding an orphaned fawn, petting lots of cats, Bill Rankin leading hayrides and picnics and telling stories, and the clippy cloppy sounds of horse hooves on the trail rides.
Lots of horses.
Horses. Horses. Horses.
As I got older I would help out the cowboys, the ranch hands, with brushing the horses as they got ready in the mornings. I would be at the barn as much as possible, knowing I only had a short amount of time there, and somehow I had to gather as much horse hair and dirt into each day.
One summer an old Cowboy named Darrell showed up. He worked there for years. This rough and leathered cowboy Darrell and a 10 yr old me bonded. He taught me all about horses and nature and life on a ranch. I would listen to all his crusty tales. We were friends for years. Pen pals even.
Those Cowboys, Walker Basin, and Horses fed a part of this city kid's soul. The wild and free part. The part of me that when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would answer that I wanted to live on a ranch.
The summers shaped what I know, what nurtures me to my core, what I miss.
My thoughts move me
Through the hot dry fields
Of childhood summers.
Open pastures in
The Walker Basin.
Dry Grasses. Gold Hills.
The smell of leather and cowboys.
And there was the sun. Oh, there was so much sun.
Those parched gnarled hands,
Cinching up a saddle,
Whose stirrups I could not reach.
I would put my small boot
Into those worn hands
And up and over I went.
My little body sitting on top of the world.
It was my heaven.
My summers sitting up so high.
Those misfit, misshapen cowboys of July
Leading children on horses and hayrides.
Shaping fifty year old memories.
July 15th, 2017 #rankinranch #summers #childhood #memories #horses #nature