"Windy's Helping Day"


    Windy looked out the window. A great day for helping. Windy Wilson sets one day aside each week for helping others, you see, and this was helping day.

          Mrs. Morris, he thought, checking on the calendar. Yes, Mrs. Morris’s poor ol’ shed that’s leaning dangerously to one side.

         “I can just whup over there today and see that gets fixated,” Windy said, smiling. “By dark, she’ll have a perp-up-and-dicular shed she can be proud of.”

         Windy talks like that. A lot.

         Armed with enough tools to recreate the city of Troy, Windy arrived at Mrs. Morris’s house and set to work. He rigged a come-along to a tree and used it to straighten the shed. Then, while he had it straight up, he attacked it with bracing.

         Mrs. Morris brought him coffee a couple of times, and later had him in for lunch. Mr. Morris passed away several years ago, and some of these bigger chores were beyond her abilities.

         Windy hadn’t asked Mrs. Morris about fixing the shed, because that’s part of the fun for him. You just show up and do it. Do it until it’s done. And … you do it right. Fortunately, Windy has always been pretty handy with tools.

          By three o’clock, that shed was up and braced, and several loose boards had been nailed back in their homes again. He brought the can of paint out of his truck and started painting it the same light green it had always been.

         Inside the house, Mrs. Morris looked out upon the wonder of a reconditioned shed in her back yard. She picked up the phone.

  “Mr. Johnson? This is Mrs. Morris. That’s right. Look, I know I’d asked you to take down my old shed, but I’ve changed my mind. No, I don’t think the old shed will fall on anyone. Thanks so much anyway.”

  Nothing like a good helping day, Windy thought, rinsing out his paint brush and dancing a little jig carrying the tools back to his pickup. It has been what he’d call a fantasmaserious afternoon.

 Life is good.


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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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