The Cowgirl and the Crime Writer: Chapter One

by | May 28, 2024 | Life Style | 0 comments

Saturday, April 20, 2024. Clio, California. 4:30 pm. I stood knee-deep in a stack of Bekins boxes piled almost to the garage ceiling, feeling tired, grumpy, and grumbly about unpacking another damn container jam-packed with the contents of our new mountain house. The trouble was that I’d packed that same box four months ago when we moved out of another mountain house a few miles away.   

“We must be out of our minds,” I told my husband, working alongside me. “Just a few months ago, I packed this coffee pot and butter dish into this same box. Now I’m unpacking that coffee pot and butter dish into another mountain house. Normal people don’t live like this.   

“We’re not insane,” he said. “Just a little impetuous. This was the right move for the right reason.”

Impetuous? No question. A good move for a valid reason? Agreed.  Still, I’d never heard of anyone selling their mountain dream house to buy another mountain dream house a few miles away four months later. The truth was – Jim and I had a love affair with the Sierra Nevada and a little mountain town named Graeagle: The dirt roads, winding trails, snow-capped peaks, a grocery store with a wood floor since before we were married fifty-four years ago. All good.      

“Tell you what,” I said. “We’ve driven past the Vinton Cowboy Poetry and Music Show for years but never went to a show. There’s one in two hours. Let’s ditch the boxes and go.”

What to wear? The Jane’s Clothes box featured tennis shirts, tennis shoes, and gym clothes. The box marked Jim’s Clothes had L.L. Bean no-iron shirts, a few golf shirts and slip-ons. There wasn’t a ten-gallon hat, cowboy boots, or pair of well-worn jeans in any of those boxes.  

In less than half an hour, the drive from our house, situated in a community of full and part-time residents, vacation homes, and a golf course, had become a visual panorama of open pastures and grasslands dotted with herds of grazing cattle surrounded by miles and miles of wire fencing. Jim and I let the power and beauty of the scene before us sink in. We were home in the mountains.    

A sign by the side of the road caught my eye: Yee Haw, Cowboy Poetry, April 19&20.   

The scene of about fifty men and women, boys and girls, dogs, a few goats, grannies and grandpas with their grandkids milling and mixing outside the Grange Hall in the early evening sunlight felt like a Homer painting and a community I wanted to be part of.   

We parked the truck and walked past several small groups of women in cowboy hats, cowboy boots, loose-fitting Levis and strings of beads around their necks. They laughed loud and long and boisterous like ladies having the time of their life. Yee Haw! Yee Haw! Yee Haw!

When Jim and I stepped inside the hall to give the lady at the door our tickets, I felt I’d just landed in another world. Forget order. Forget quiet. Forget chit chat. There were at least one hundred fifty cowboys, cowgirls, cow-kids, and cow-folks whooping it up with each other like best friends who hadn’t seen each other in years. But that wasn’t the case.

These folks felt like a community I wanted to be part of.