I head north, a bit reluctantly, but only because it’s still very cold and much snow remains on the ground the further north I go. I am finished with New Mexico’s talks. My “vacation break” in Truth or Consequence’s was much too short.
I have completed work with W+E1 Film Productions and now face the second half of the book tour, about 30 talks (I’ve already done 50). I’m looking forward to the many new faces I’ll meet, but also the touching moments when someone from the past, someone I met on a previous ride presents themselves unexpectedly.
This happened a week ago in Roswell, New Mexico when I spoke at Roswell’s enormous, newer, very busy public library. I have said it before–the book tour has taken on the feel of a “reunion book tour,” giving me the opportunity of sharing with these people who came into my life with smiles, “How can we help,” food, and encouragement.
I’d ridden through Roswell in 2009 on an ambitious 6000-mile ride, riding Honor and leading Essie Pearl with Claire Dog on board–our “dog-and-pony-act rides into town.” Now I find myself ten years later, minus the dog and pony, in Roswell on a book tour.
In 2009, I spent five days or so at the Roswell Fairgrounds and met Steve and Cecilia Ortega, who at that time owned a landscape/garden business, and Dale and Kay Rogers who owned (and still do) Roswell Feed & Livestock. One meets many people, but these families were front and center.
Steve and Cecilia took me to dinner, brought food out to the fairgrounds, and checked on me daily. Now in 2019, here they were, older after 50+ years together, retired, happy, and such a joy to see again. The Rogers, Kay and Dale, are long-time figures in Roswell. Roswell Livestock and Feed not only provided hay on my stop, but had a worker (whose name we can not remember) who rebuilt and helped design a new doggie box for Claire. Also, Kay and her granddaughter, Desiree, led me on a tour of the town.
There was nothing “alien” about Roswell.
Another sweet memory from 2009, is when I rode out of Roswell–rested and fed, but the weather remained cold, and Christmas was only a week away. Days are short but steady when traveling in winter months. I’m usually not up and packed until 9 or 10 am. Because it’s cold, I move continuously the entire five to six hours until I stop and set up camp at 3 or 4 pm.
A low spot just off the Pecos River east of the small town of Hagerman called out to me. It had an offering of water, enough grass, and shelter from the wind. Okay, we’ll take it, thank you.
The horses were on picket lines, tent set up, and my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea when a pickup truck stopped. A small woman with dark hair, my age, an outdoor working woman–you could tell by the way she came walking toward me–approached. My initial thought… “I’m being evicted.” I did not know I was being rescued!
Terry Gomez introduced herself, “No, no you are fine here, my family farm is just over the ridge,” pointing to buildings in the distance. “You know they’re predicting snow don’t you?” “I’ll be fine, I’m from Montana,” my bold, confident voice spoke. We talked a bit more about my rides and where I had come from–the usual talk. Then she left.
I am sure her folks and extended family must have said, “GO GET HER!”
Well, long story short, Christmas with the Gomez family unfolded. I spent five or six days with the Gomez’s in 2009, and in 2019 we spent good time together again. I had the opportunity to once again say, “Gracias, thank you, thank you!”
I think what I want most to say in this post is how touched I was by the enduring love in these families. All three couples had been married 50-60 plus years, had aged like fine wine, and had children that supported them in their declining years.
In 2009 they simply had no idea how much I needed their help or how hard and alone long riding was.
Now I return with a book, but mostly with heart-felt gratitude for what they did for me, my horses, and Claire, which goes beyond words. My heart was touched then by their generosity, and today by the love they spread throughout their families and communities. Gracias!