September 02, 2009

This God Forsaken Land

Summer has now passed and the days are getting shorter and darker. Though I regret the passage of time, I have taken good advantage of these past three months. After the spring round-up in Grantsville and a mid-June trip with Kathie, Erika my daughter, my mother, sister and brother-in-law to Cornwall and Somerset, England the summer began in earnest. I managed to squeeze in as much back-country riding as possible based out of our cabin and small ranch in Idaho just minutes from the continental divide and Montana. Together with family and friends, we laid down wagon tracks or hoof prints or both in Utah, a good part of Yellowstone National Park, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area and adjoining National Forests - from the petrified forests of the Gallatin to the Spanish Peaks overlooking Big Sky and Moonlight Basin to the magnificent alpine Hilgard Basin and beyond. We joined a wagon train to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Gunnison, Utah, danced the night away at the Victorian Ball in Virginia City, where I was asked to recite a little poetry and finished off August with our traditional “Evening in the American West” show where I mixed it up for a large audience with the cowboy trio “Latigo.” While in Virginia City, I came across the following poem. I liked it and thought I would include it here. Montana is indeed a special place.

This God-Forsaken Land

This God-Forsaken Land, they call it,
As they gaze with pitying eye,
Nothing here but sagebrush,
And a vast expanse of sky.

We don’t know how you take it,
Those city folks declare,
And how do you make a living?
Or do you live on air?

They wonder at the twinkle in our eye,
And the smiles we try to hide,
For in all this lonely windswept land,
They can see no cause for pride.

But we could tell them of our ranches,
Where great herds of cattle roam,
And of the flocks of bleating woolies,
That claim Montana as their own.

We could show them our oil wells,
That pour forth liquid gold,
And in those places they call “barren,”
There are deep, rich veins of coal.

They may not see our fertile ranches,
With their fields of hay ad grain,
But nestled there among the hills,
We have them just the same.

This “Loneliness” they talk about,
To us is God’s own peace;
There’s so much of beauty all around,
That our thanks shall never cease.

Our streams are filled with rainbow trout,
We’ve antelope, elk and deer,
We’re a mile up nearer heaven,
And the air is pure and clear.

Our sunsets glow with color,
And in the pearly dawn of morn,
The pungent scent of sage drifts down,
On a breeze that’s mountain born.

We don’t know much of city life,
Or where they seek God there,
But we do know in Montana,
That we find him everywhere.

So to them we’ll leave the cities,
Where the living is so grand,
And we’ll stay in Montana,
In our God-Beloved Land.

(poster for sale in the Virginia – Madison Country Historical Museum, autor not cited)

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