Another Man’s Trash…

From junk heaps on the side of the garage, to landfills and junk yards, we’ve all seen consumerism left behind. We call it junk, garbage, trash and a plethora of other synonyms for the word, “waste.” Most of it goes by without any thought and it gets heaped up in dumps, whether large or small.

But, what if you are a wanderer? Or a collector of treasures? Then, you understand that there is beauty in the abandoned. A place where progressive action hasn’t wiped out history can be a place that someone like me gets to cash out. I don’t find myself in modern landfills, but I do find myself in places old enough to have been replaced by the up and coming newest trends.

Rarely do I take a sampling of my finds, because I prefer photos, and to leave things be, for a day when another stumbles upon my trail of treasure. Archaeologists a thousand years from now will need something to find, right? But, with photos, I can take something to share with others that may never be where I’ve been.

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A pickup abandoned in a field thirty years prior, a piece of tin blown many miles in a Colorado wind storm, an old brown medicine bottle, even a building that is falling down, gives way for a roaming imagination to place a new perspective into the atmosphere. In that moment, it may not be a functioning object, but it is beautiful to someone that sees it differently.

Attitude is within. You can treasure something unkempt, and polish it again to give it a new life, or you can sneer at its unpleasant appearance and toss it to the side and never give it another thought. The choice is yours. One man’s trash, isn’t always trash at all….

 

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A Cowboy’s Identity

If you’ve ever been in the presence of a group of cowboys, you may think they’re all the same. Boots, jeans, long sleeved shirt and hat. They are a stand alone culture, that have survived style trends through the decades.

At first glance, to the untrained eye, they do mostly appear the same. Until you see them in their element, maybe they are all the same? Nah… look a little closer… They are as different as different gets.

Many a cowboy define their unique identities in an unexpected place; their feet. Not their boots per se, but their spurs. There are more styles of spurs than there are cereal choices at the grocery store, and most outside of cowboy culture have no idea.

Some proudly wear their granddads, passed down from one generation to the next. These were likely custom made, and carry the family ranch brand etched in them. They have survived the same feedlot and corrals for many years, because like the ranch, they were built right the first time and are meant to withstand the changing times.

Others belong to horsemen, also custom, and you may see the name engraved on the side, as an advertisement of the trainer who is riding horses at a show. Many of those are like tattoos, and although the body they’re on is similar, the art work is unique and one of a kind. They have inlays of silver or copper, situated in a way that defines the person atop the steed.

Then there are roughstock rider spurs, which aren’t always fancy, but they’re built to with stand a 2100 pound bull or 1000 pound horse from collapsing them, if the rider gets stepped on. They have different pitch than the spurs of other riders, to help with the sheer force of riding bucking stock. Their rowels have a lot to say about them as well.

Vaqueros, buckaroos, rodeo, horsemen, equestrians, ranch hands, cattlemen (if they ride), and everything in between, has a defining character, and it’s on their feet. It’s their spurs, spur straps and rowels.

If you ever see some that really catch your eye, take a moment to ask that cowboy about their choice of metal. You might be surprised what kind of story is behind the dirt caked steel, and it might be a story that person loves to tell. I have yet to find a rider of any type ask me not to photograph their foot style. They are proud of what they wear, and always for a good reason.

Not many things in this life are permanent, but quite often the money spent on a custom set of spurs is a deeply considered and permanent investment, to explain that person’s character without words. They are an unspoken code of the culture, that easily says, “We are not all the same.”

Emptiness

How many of us have had days where we feel like we have nothing left? If you so desire, and you’re feeling down, look into your hands. Are they empty? Look around and find something wonderful to hold. A delicate flower, a pretty rock, someone’s groceries that is struggling to get them into their car. There is always something that can fill the empty places, all you have to do is look. Your hands may be empty for a reason, and they may be meant to be filled in a way you hadn’t expected.DSC01313_1

Retirement Community

My daughter had just moved to a farm in Northeastern Colorado when she told me to bring my camera, when we came to visit and see where our son-in-law would be working.

The drive took us through many farm road gates, past the stubble of harvest, beyond the cattle, in a big circle to a long shed. Jordin was so excited as she led the way around the corner, to show me “The Retirement Community” at rest in there.

I’ve seen a great many pickups and tractors resting on ranches and farms, and most don’t get to use up barn space. They get hauled to the field, lined up and forgotten, until some guy driving down the road drools over the 64 Ford sitting there doing nothing, pulls in and asks a rancher, “Would you be interested in selling one of your old pickups?” To which the farmer or rancher is most likely going to say, “No. Not for sale.” Yes, I’ve seen many of those rows of pickups, tractors and farm implements.

But, this one was different. There are several in a shed, tucked in their spaces with farm rubble all around to keep them cozy. My favorite is the old Oliver tractor with the Pontiac hood ornament. I’d guess it was a farmhand joke, as he dreamed of a smooth suspension and weather tight cab, to get through harvesting and planting, and getting out of the sun, wind and rain.

These machines have earned their rest. Their steering wheels surely filled with stories of farm life during their many years of providing extra man power to the ever growing needs of the community. Sun up to sun down, sometimes under moonlight, they would go, working to get the seed planted, or the harvest in.

It was hard to walk away, as the sun began to fade for the night. They would sleep once again, only to overlook the farm ahead of them the next day, and cherish the life they once lived.

We can only hope that we will not be tucked away and forgotten, but that someone will come along and enjoy our stories again. As these pieces of equipment have done, we have also lived. Bigger and newer may be more functional, but older and smaller will always have more character. Don’t lose the elderly before they have a chance to share their stories. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Dirty Your Boots

What are your dreams?

You can hope from the grandstands of life, but you’ll never have a chance to be a contestant until you step into the arena. Will you walk through that gate and step into the sand? Will you walk the walk to get to the chutes?

Maybe you aren’t ready to ride just yet. That’s okay. Get in there anyway and stay on the ground. Breathe the air, feel the dirt, listen to the sounds, and observe from a new place of perspective. Don’t just buy your ticket to watch, earn your right to ride.

If it’s really in your heart, you’ll never tire of working for it. It won’t matter how slow you get there, as long as you’re learning from every contestant ahead of you as you make your way from thought to action. Don’t just think it, begin to be it.

One thing is certain…

        “You can only get there, if you get your boots dirty…”