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Once Upon a Time in the West


Because daily road trips are not possible, even for me, I’m going to let you all in on how all of this began for me.  It was simple, really.  I was born in a covered wagon, somewhere in Kansas, with wheels under my feet.

No, really.

My parents owned a sheep ranch outside Hugoton, in the far southwest corner of the state, and in the way of such things, shepherds live with sheep and a dog and need groceries delivered from time to time.  I read a book recently, by Laura Bell called “Claiming Ground” in which she talks about her experiences working as a shepherd in those high, lonely places.  It helped me understand a lot.  Even nearly full term pregnant, it was my mother’s job to jolt and jounce the Jeep over frozen ruts and endless acres to the places where there were men needing food, conversation and reading materials.  This day in early February, she brought along a whole new kind of entertainment…I had reached the end of my patience with bouncing about on my head and by the time she reached the camp of Basque Serillo Martinez, I had prepared myself for an entry into the world.

It was perhaps not the best decision – the rule I had not yet learned was “put no woman through natural child birth who does not plan ahead for that experience.” Rending, searing “this had better be a kidney stone” pain is perhaps not the best first impression.  Another story.

As my mother tells it, Serillo did not, initially, feel up to the challenge, flapping his hands and doing (from what she says) a passable impression of Butterfly McQueen with the whole “Don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!” routine.  I find it somewhat difficult to believe.  Look at this guy.  Does he look like a hand flapper?

Actually, all of that aside, he did a fine job birthin’ the baby and I remain grateful.  I’m also happy to have this photo – there are lots of people who don’t have a photo of their delivery doctor/nurse and hospital.

I have to say, that as I look at this picture, I’m glad he was a reading man.  My only regret is that I ruined the newspapers my Mother had toted up the hill for him that day.  He probably regretted that too.

I had a chance to meet him a few years after, when I was still very young.  I remember a dog who was not the dog in this picture, and a campfire, and a small man who was the same brown as the autumn leaves near the creek.  He had kind eyes, beneath what I’ll bet was the same hat as the one he wears in this photo.  And I remember the smell of beans cooking with bacon over the fire.  To this day that smell makes my mouth water.

So there you have it.  I came into the world on a short jaunt that became an experience.  It has given me a taste for that kind of adventure ever since.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in the West

  1. Such a great story. I’m glad you shared it.

    Posted by Betta | August 23, 2011, 7:34 am
  2. And the photos.

    Posted by Betta | August 23, 2011, 7:37 am
  3. What a terrific story (your words 😉 and pics, thanks for sharing! Such an appropriate beginning for a “wayward pioneer”!!

    Posted by Joyce Cole | August 30, 2011, 5:10 pm

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