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March 21, 2007

Second Day of Spring

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Mother nature wants to keep us on our toes here at the Vineyard Ranch just south of Contact, Nevada. It wasn't too bad until the breeze came up; the earth's early morning deep breathing exercises before getting about the business of the day. Animal and man will wait for the sun to return which will probably take a big wind to roll the storm on out toward the plains states.

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March 14, 2007

Time is on our side
There’s no time like the present
Make time
Time is of the essence
All in due time
Time after time
Marking time
Time and again
Stitch in time saves nine
In the nick of time
Time flies when you’re having fun
Split second
Just a dog-gone minute
Times, they are a changing
Time is running out
Time on your hands
Time heals all wounds
Time is up

Since the Gathering in Elko in late January I have spent considerable time contemplating how we slice and dice this man made invention called time. Our relationships, jobs, mornings, afternoons and nights are digested by the minutes and seconds that tick away as we go through our lives.

For right now, I am standing in a different time. My mother died last week after a thirty-five month illness that left her in a wheel chair and later bedridden. Recently, as I was going through a pile of recipe cards, many in my mother and grandmother’s handwriting, I realized how little I had listened to my mom. Tomboy to the core, my memories are of the time spent outdoors, and time with my dad. Growing up, little did I think about my mother’s life in the house. It took getting married, raising a family, and being expected to cook for a ranch crew when needed that brought an appreciation for her role. Becoming the ranch cook almost the day after my wedding I realized that through osmosis I must have absorbed more of my mother’s skills than I realized.

She taught me how to do things right, not fast. That is one of Bud William’s messages that when working with cattle, an extra half an hour on the front end can save you hours in the end. Mom was like that. She wasn’t big on short cuts. She could work me into the ground up until her life’s work caught up with her.

Over the past few years as we traveled through the labyrinth of hospitals, rehab facilities, and care centers, her physically demanding life became more and more apparent. The knotty knuckled liver spotted hands that struggled to hold a coffee cup steadily became a symbol of her life. They were not the hands of idleness, manicured and pristine in their old age, they told a story of outdoors, hard work and activity.

As I look at my own hands I see Mom. I see a long strong line with the beginnings of knots and spots and old scars that tell of my life. Seeing, I know it is not just a genetic code that I pass on, but the choice to watch baby calves being born renewing us after a long winter sojourn, and the privilege to listen for the blue herons return to the meadows in spring. It is a gift to pass on to my children, her grandchildren, a way of life and work that she lived and loved.

As the cold dreariness of winter passes with the teasing and ticklish pleasure of sunshine, the ranch New Year begins with a new calf crop that starts to drop with the lengthening days. A hint of green grass, and the growing strength in the afternoon sun heralds the beginning of a newness and freshness. It is a cycle of endings and beginnings, of rebirth and death as old as time itself: a mysterious drama at the center of man’s creativity that is reassuring.

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Betty Johnson and grandson, Nathan Boies

The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.

About Robin Boies

Robin Boies
Robin Boies is the product of a northern Texas cattleman and a city-bred girl from Boulder, Colorado. As a child Boies remembers Sunday's marked by church school and the weekly sermon, followed by an afternoon of Pitch or Twenty-one with red, white, and blue poker chips stacked neatly in front of her. When it came to culture it was sublime opera in the house and Hank Williams in the green Chevy pick-up truck. Boies found herself in Steptoe Valley north of Ely, Nevada, at age seventeen. For the past 28 years Boies has lived 45 miles north of Wells, Nevada, at the Vineyard Unit of Boies Ranches with her husband Steve. There they raised three children, Teema, Nathan, and Samuel. Teema enters Gonzaga University this fall to pursue a graduate degree. Nathan is back in college when not at the ranch after a service engagement in the 101st Airborne, and Samuel graduated from high school last year and has been in New Zealand since September 2005. While tending to the needs of the ranch Boise works to understand and tell the stories of contemporary ranching culture through writing and videography.

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