"Each Morning"


     Spring mornings are a lot like Christmas. Each day we get up and go out into the yard, or walk along the creek or visit the horses in the pasture. And each day, each morning, we find something new the sun has brought us.

  Pinfeather leaves of an unbelievable green now start showing on cottonwoods that have stood like stark ghostly frames all through the cold winter. Hopeful blades of grass peek through clumps of brown left over from last summer’s verdant pasture. Everywhere we look there is something new and different.

  A lot of this Christmas-in-spring is kept just among us, because we might be accused of being ... well ... poetic if we told people why we were really carrying that coffee cup out into the yard. So we say lame things like “I think I’ll get some of that fresh air this morning.” What we really mean, of course, is “I want to see if Richardson’s bay mare has had that foal yet.”

  Some of us have worked very hard last fall and winter to prepare for this spring. By grafting. OK, we have a Granny Smith apple tree. Let’s see if we can’t get a branch of Rome Beauties or Jonagolds to grow on it, too. And we understand completely that where we live no olive tree can survive the winter. That isn’t supposed to stop us from trying, is it?

  Nature pitches us a boatload of challenges each day that we’re alive. This plant needs more water than falls naturally here. That tree can’t take the temperatures we get. This little tree needs soil with more organic matter in it.

  And those challenges are the stuff winter dreams are made of. We do the best we can to cure the lack, the freeze, the drought, and then we wait for April. We wait impatiently until we can come out of the house some morning and check the grafts on the apple tree and see tiny green leaves coming on the grafted branch. We search the bare ground where we planted that new kind of seed that won’t grow here - to see if it’ll grow here.

  It is a continuing feast of green, a triumph of anticipation. An April morning can make us want to sing.

Brought to you by Strange Tales of Alaska, available now on Amazon.com.


Newspaper columnist Slim Randles, who writes the weekly Home Country column, took home two New Mexico Book Awards in 2011. His advice book for young people, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right,” took first place in the self-help category, and “Sweetgrass Mornings” won in the biography/memoirs category. Randles lives and works in Albuquerque. Home Country reaches 3 million hometown newspaper readers each week

Slim Randles learned mule packing from Gene Burkhart and Slim Nivens. He learned mustanging and wild burro catching from Hap Pierce. He learned horse shoeing from Rocky Earick. He learned horse training from Dick Johnson and Joe Cabral. He learned humility from the mules of the eastern High Sierra. Randles lives in Albuquerque.

Randles has written newspaper stories, magazine articles and book, both fiction and nonfiction. His column appeared in New Mexico Magazine for many years and was a popular columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and the Albuquerque Journal, and now writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country,” which appears in several hundred newspapers across the country.


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