We started out our morning with a warm and gentle breeze. I cinched up Stretch’s saddle. Who’d have known I’d almost freeze.
My father walked up to us said, “Your raincoat’s not tied on.” I gazed up to a clear, blue sky. Then mounted. We were gone.
I’d only worn a t-shirt, but my hat was pulled down tight. My hat would keep the rain off. Heck, I knew I’d be alright.
If I’d only known what really lay ahead of me that day. I’d have heeded all my father’s words. I darn sure had to pay.
By afternoon the sky turned black, for sure the dankest cold. I knew I was in trouble. Wished I’d done what I was told.
The cold dark clouds soon emptied out. They soaked me head to toe. The weather turned to hail and then the wind began to blow.
My mind was still coherent. I recalled what Father said. “Your horse will throw off heat. Just snuggle up. You won’t be dead.”
So, I wrapped myself around old Stretch. The heat was coming through. My saddle horse had saved me. Didn’t have to say adieu.
Just then I heard a tree branch snap. I saw my father’s face. He came riding in on Shortcut and I yelled out words of grace.
He didn’t have to say a word. His look plumb pierced my soul. He tossed a coat and slicker. Didn’t offer an earful.
Well, that was fifty years ago. It seems like yesterday. Now I always tie a raincoat even on a sunny day.
‘Cuz the coldest that I’ve been was 1969 July. The mountains ain’t forgiving and I dang near said, “Goodbye.”
And when the other cowboys say, “You carry too much gear.” I think about that day and know I’m lucky to be here.