Juan the Basque.
I am of the Basque stock--
Sheep and our coexistence therewith.
Our ancestors left the Old Ways and territories--
North of Spain and the wonders of that place,
To the rough wilds of mountainous Nevada.
Sheep were the source of meat and wool:
Work to butcher; work to shear; work to move for ever-new pastures.
I remember as a boy our movements from place to place in Nevada--
From Duck Water (near Ely), north, to Mountain City (north of Elko) in the Spring
And then back south to Duck Water in the Fall.
All the mountains were nicely arranged,
Their spines protruding North to South.
They guided our directional herding very well.
Now on the trail: dogs, horses, with thousands of bearers of wool.
I remember the sounds--bleeting and baahing:
The smell of dust and urine, and faeces and lanolin.
We moved slowly North and South, time after time.
Camped; the dogs managing the animals.
Our fires warmed us and gave us heat for cooking.
Coyotes occasionally crying out mournfully, beautifully in the distance--
Sometimes not so distant.
Vigilance; and human responsibility for those coexisting.
The final times of herding were always
A relief as well as a loss of a magical existence.
Back to 'civilization' and those fellows
Who comprehended nor felt nothing of what we had done.
Each time I touch an article of wool,
Now in my urban life,
I longingly recall those marvellous days
Which, except in far places of the earth,
Will never be repeated in my time nor place.
Frank Maurer 19 March 2023
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