Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rocky Mountain high

posted Mon, 02 Aug 2004

Harpo’s people are ranchers in Oklahoma. He was two years old the last time he was on a horse, but it is clear that he has horses in his blood. (Not literally, of course. That would be painful.) But he did right fine yesterday when we went riding with my aunt and uncle at their ranch in the mountains.

If you listen to him, he will tell you that he was roping and branding and fighting mountain lions and bears, but the ride wasn’t quite that adventurous. We did see elk and bison way up close, but they left us alone. We also saw hummingbirds and wildflowers, if that gives you any idea of the level of danger.

The biggest difficulty for Harpo was being offered a sausage sandwich. He is a vegetarian who does not like to offend his hosts, so it was uncomfortable for him when Mary Ann gave him the sandwich. I wasn’t bothered that he didn’t eat it because it meant more for me. The sausage is my uncle Larry’s venison summer sausage and it is delicious.

The most treacherous part for me was getting to the ranch, which involved driving up that twisting dirt road into the mountains – the same one we took to my cousin’s wedding. I tried just closing my eyes for the more terrifying parts, but realized that not knowing we were about to plunge over the edge was worse than watching it happen. Harpo scoffed at my apprehension, telling me he was a licensed pilot and that if we went over the edge, wouldn’t he be the best one to be at the wheel?

We rode for about three hours – which is not hard to do really when you consider that the horse is the one doing all the work. On the steep paths, I just leaned back and hoped my horse didn’t have a death wish. You really have to trust that the horse knows what it is doing – at least I did, because I sure didn’t know what I was doing. I had to fake it for the horse, of course, because you can’t let them sense any fear. Or maybe that’s dogs.

Back at the stables, we sat and watched while Eve and Chad got a group of about fifteen riders ready to go. The Broadmoor Hotel sends tour groups to the ranch. (The Broadmoor is one of those old-fashioned swanky hotels where people who use “summer” as a verb stay. Harpo has decided he wants to use all four seasons as verbs, as well as both equinoxes.) Most of these folks have never even seen a dirt road before, much less ridden a horse, so the ride is not a tough one.

We watched the tour group, then watched my cousin Laurie, who manages the stables, as she shoveled manure into a wheelbarrow. Just like my job, only in my case the manure is figurative. I think Laurie might actually have the better deal. She gets to call things by their real names; I have to pretend it’s all roses.

It turns out that one of Harpo’s bandmates is in Colorado Springs for the month visiting family. Tom had already found a bar with an open jam session on Sundays, so he had Harpo bring his harps with him, which Harpo always does when we travel anyhow. Every time the baggage screener at security x-rays Harpo’s bags, he has to ask what those weird metallic shapes are.

The house band was playing when we arrived, along with a few of the sit-in musicians. One of those was playing an accordion. “I’ve never seen an accordion in a blues band,” Tom mused.

“It’s quite common in the Colorado blues scene,” I assured him.

“Really?” he asked, surprised.

“No!” I answered. “I made that up!” I didn’t realize Tom was so gullible. Or maybe it’s just that I am so trustworthy.

Harpo and Tom were called to play at the start of the second set. Tom introduced a song that he had written. Of all the musicians on stage – one trumpet, two saxes, one guitar, one bass, drums and piano, then Harpo and Tom – only Harpo and Tom had ever heard the song before. The rest of the musicians just figured out what to play as they heard the music. They are at a completely different level of musical ability than I could ever have hoped to reach. When I played violin, I could play something that someone else had written, but I never would have been able to make stuff up as I went along to go with what everyone else is playing, even if it is all one four five.

The Teva count was high among the patrons, as was the tattoo, long hair and beard, and leather jacket and chains. Colorado Springs is apparently a place where old hippies go to retire. But then there were the high and tight haircuts from Ft Carson, too. Everyone seemed to get along just fine, despite a t-shirt that showed Bush and the caption “I’ll bet you vote in this election, hippy!”

I rolled my eyes at that. Tom and I got into an argument about politics. He is a college professor and – need I even say this? – a socialist. As Harpo said, “It would take a man of great strength and character to go against the strong peer pressure in academia.” I told Tom that one’s perception of socialism has a lot to do with whether one thinks he would be one of those from whom property was stolen or one to whom the property was given.

He then got onto the part about how Bush was so stupid, but could give me no specific examples showing Bush’s lack of intelligence. I think the reason all these self-appointed ‘intellectual elites’ don’t like Bush is the same reason they didn’t like him and his ilk in high school. How come the popular kids are running things? Shouldn’t it be the SMARTEST kids? It’s envy, pure and simple.

No comments:

Post a Comment