...I can step my memory onto the backs of the big boulders and hear my boots scuff against the black and rust and corn-yellow lichens that covered them.
When I was a boy ... I lived on the largest block of unfenced wilderness in the forty-eight states.
- Mark Spragg, Where Rivers Change Direction
I knew the horses as I knew my family. ... We caught them, used them, turned them back into the kidney-warm manure cake of the corrals, into the ridden-to-dust round corral. They rolled and stood and shook and milled. When I was separated from them I felt wrong in the world. When I was separated from them I took no comfort in the sound of the creek. I felt chilled without the heat of them. ...
No one ever asked why we had no television, no daily paper. They came for what my brother and I took for granted. They came to live the anachronism that we considered our normal lives.
America was not yet rich enough for the coastal populations to buy up the hinterland and subdivide it into a patchwork of second homes. The Wapiti ranchers worked their land; they did not sell it. It was a life that lined the face, leaned the body, and satisfied. We knew our neighbors.
The parking lot is gravel, rutted from a recent rain, grown up at the edges in tire-broken weeds. The pickups are mud splattered, most of them hitched to trailers, their grills and windshields uneven fields of smeared insect body. There is a row of stock trucks. A semi is backed to a loading chute.
... a single dun gelding. His mane and tail, muzzle, and stockings darkened as deeply brown as wet earth. So is the line that dissects his back, from his mane to the base of his tail. His ears are pricked. His face alive with intelligence. He’s well muscled and put together like a cutter.