This blog, published free of charge since September 2007, is a way for me to stay in touch with seasonal bookstore visitors from afar and with all customers and friends when I am closed during the winter. My annual seasonal retirement will begin this year on November 1, and I expect to be back and open again by June 2021. Meanwhile, thank you so much for following Books in Northport and for supporting Dog Ears Books.
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Monday, February 23, 2015
In My Dreams, I Have Always Been a Cowgirl. Was That a Singing Cowgirl?
Ready for ME?
true. Ask my mother. My very earliest career aspiration was cowgirl. Later came
veterinarian, poet, singer, actor, writer, philosopher, and, finally,
bookseller. But girlhood cowgirl dreams are like creeks during drought times:
they may go underground for years, but they never die.
there anything on earth that smells better than cows and hay and fresh cow
manure? How about horses and hay and fresh horse manure! What about combining the horses and cows? HEAVEN!
David read about a weekly livestock auction in Willcox, he knew that expedition
had my name on it, and we drove over a couple days beforehand to make certain
of the location. Cochise County leads the state of Arizona in cattle
production, making Willcox (and not Bisbee, the county seat) the Cow Capitol, so
I guess that makes the Willcox Livestock Auction (WLA) Arizona’s Cattle White
finally came! Auction day! I wish I could include here the feel of the hot sun,
the sound of calves bawling, and the smell of the dust and the cattle and the
horses and the hay. I
wanted to be everywhere at once – watching the riders and horses work the cows,
where the calves came in one side to be auctioned off and then scrambled out
the other side when the gate was opened,
by the pens where groups of calves awaited their turn in the auction house,
especially in the outdoor stall shelters where the cowhorses, in turn, took
breaks from their demanding work.
I wanted to be on a horse, too, and
also flicking a flyswatter at calves to move them from one side of the auction “ring”
to the other, and I wouldn’t have said no to opening and closing an auction
sat indoors a while to watch the buying and selling and at first weren’t sure
about the prices being knocked down. Per lot, or per animal? Because sometimes
as many as eight would come through at once. Light dawned at last: the calves
were being sold by the hundredweight. So if a 500-lb. calf brought in a $120
selling price, that calf would cost the buyer $600. It made sense.
went outdoors again, into the sunlight, to watch the horses and riders work the
cows (Midwesterner that I am, it’s hard for me not to put that word in “scare
quotes,” when we’re talking calves and often steer calves) through a
complicated system of pens and gates on their way to the auction ring. A man in
a cowboy hat, walking by the pens with his little grandson at his side, asked,
“You folks buyin’ today?” “Not today,” David answered. “Just lookin’ today.”
David was wearing his cowboy hat, and his boots were appropriately scuffed and
dusty. Two little boys looking for adventure caught their mother’s distant but
vigilant eye. “You boys get outta that pen right now!”
we were leaving, I was surprised to see one truck pulling out with an empty
livestock trailer but quickly realized the driver must have been selling that
day, not buying. We left in a Toyota sedan with a Michigan license plate. What
did people conclude from that?
could have stayed all day. I could go every day and stay all day!
As we came back down Haskell Avenue into town, I noticed the new custom T-shirt
shop open in an old gas station. “COWGIRL IN MY DREAMS,” I told David. “That’s
what my t-shirt would say. And I bet a lot of other women would love it, too!”
Happy girl, living my dream
the day was not over yet. After a lazy interlude of iced tea and corn nuts at
Railroad Park, we went home to rest, have a light supper, change clothes, and
not kidding. It was Les Noces de Figaro, i.e., “The Barber of Seville,” a
videocast from the Opera de la Bastille in Paris, France, and we saw it at the
Willcox Historic Theatre in Willcox, Arizona.
The tickets were only $5 each!
Never could we have seen such a show at that price in Northport or Traverse
City, let alone in Paris! But yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s true: for a mere
$10, the artist and bookseller on winter sabbatical were transported to Paris
for the evening. I couldn’t believe it was happening!
was the handsome, urbane but enthusiastic announcer (whose name has escaped
me), introducing the production in French (with, as you see, English subtitles
for export audiences), and indeed, after a magnificent orchestral overture, the
curtain rose, and we were there, in the Opera de la Bastille, watching Damiano
Micheletti’s electrifying 20th-century staging of this well-known
didn’t take any photographs during the opera itself. Even though the performers
were not, in person, onstage in the theatre with us, it just didn’t seem right.
Here, though, is the barber, a perfect Figaro!
And here is the chorus, taking their curtain call, a shot that shows you part of the two stories of the fantastic four-storyrevolving stage set.
heart had wings, there were stars in my eyes – and yet, on the way home, I kept
an alert eye on the road ahead for javelinas and coyotes. We’d seen two dead
javelinas on the side of the road the morning before, and they didn’t look like
anything we’d want to run into ourselves.
– what a day! Quelle journée!Époustoufflante!