By SLIM RANDLES
Albuquerque-based writer and former mule packer Slim Randles received The Rounders Award during a reception Oct. 16 at Gov. Susana Martinez’s residence in Santa Fe. Named for the classic novel by Max Evans, The Rounders Award is given by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to “individuals who have lived, promoted or articulated the Western way of life.” Former recipients include artist Grem Lee, novelist Max Evans, musician Michael Martin Murphey and humorist Baxter Black. Randles, whose weekly column “Home Country” reaches 2.2 million readers in 44 states — including the Williamsport Sun-Gazette — also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.”
Steve finished the ride up the mountain on Ol' Snort and just sat there in the saddle, looking at his cabin for several minutes. Each board had been personally nailed in place, and the epicenter of his delight, of course, was the turret.
After stabling Snort and feeding him, Steve went in, built a fire in the Home Comfort range's firebox, and then went up into the turret for a look at well, everything.
Down the long, timbered ridges to the valley below, and off to the hills on the other side of Lewis Creek, it was all there. Up here there were no worries about doctoring cattle or helping cows to calve. If a corral board fell down, well OK.
The other guys could handle it. When he and Snort came up here, all that temporarily went away.
Steve climbed down and put the coffee pot on, swept up some wind-borne dust that had invaded the place, and then went up the ladder again, this time with a cup of coffee.
The light of the late sun shining on Miller Pond, just out of town there, turned first a glassy brass, then a deeper purple as the world prepared to rest.
The lights in the town appeared and he looked down and smiled. Behind each of those lights was a friend of his. In anyone's book, that's a smiling situation.
It wasn't easy finding this hole-up spot. He'd had a bunch of false starts before finding it. It's never easy. The real estate sales piranhas don't like to deal with them because - if it's a real hole-up spot - there's no money in it. Basically, if lots of people want it, it can't be a hole-up spot.
Steve considered writing a book once, but he didn't like words, so he revised that plan. He thought of painting a picture once, too, but the result looked worse than what's on the wall at Parent's Night in the second grade. His 12 chords on the guitar didn't lend itself to becoming a composer, either.
But these were the kinds of things a guy can do in a hole-up spot.
He smiled as he sipped his coffee in his turret, in his cabin on his hole-up spot, with his horse, Ol' Snort, happily munching his supper out in his stable.
If he ever decided to become artistic in any way, he now had the perfect place to do it. But sometimes it's enough just being a good cowboy and sipping coffee and smiling at the world.
Brought to you by the national award-winning book, "A Cowboy's Guide to Growing Up Right." Read a free sample at www.slimrandles.com.
Home Country is a weekly syndicated newspaper column written by outdoors journalist and humorist Slim Randles.
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