I’m on my way to Alisal, the upscale dude ranch (and resort) half an hour north of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. I get there Tuesday afternoon, just in time for cocktails at the Waggin’ Tongue Lounge . My host has advised me that the suggested attire for dinner that night is “casual Western.”
I’m not sure what that is. Jeans and a clean shirt, perhaps? Since I don’t own any boots or cowboy hats it better not be any more complicated than that.
Wednesday morning, I’m getting up early to go on a breakfast ride to the Old Adobe. I wrote about this recently; how I was assigned an uncooperative nag who refused to budge so I ended up riding in an old pick-up with Jake Copass, Alisal’s in-house cowboy poet and long-time wrangler who passed away in 2006. Jake and I had a good chat that day. It was because of Jake, and our little talk, that I ended up going to Arizona Cowboy College. And it’s because of Jake that, for better or worse, I’ll be getting back on a horse to get myself out to the Western breakfast at the old adobe Wednesday morning.
Anyway, in honor of Jake, I thought I’d reprint a poem he wrote over 20 years ago, called It’s Always Home, that was published in his book of cowboy poetry, It Don’t Hurt to Laugh.
It’s Always Home
We all drove down the old dirt road,
My sisters, my brothers, and me.
It wasn’t too easy to figure it out,
Where the old home used to be.
Guess the old house had been torn down,
The windmill and the old corral.
The little tin chicken house is still standing there
In the brush, there is still a dim trail.
You could hear the Bobwhites in the distance,
Cows munching grass up to their knees,
I’d swear that’s the same old mockingbird
Perched high in that old apple tree.
No matter what else has happened,
There’s some things you cannot erase,
The joys we all had together,
On our folk’s little sandy-land place.