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Driftin’ or Destination-Driven?

Bushwhack of Slip and Slack
November 30, 2021
Experience is Priceless
December 14, 2021

Chance encounters can often be a fork in the road of one's life. On the other hand, perhaps what we call "chance" is sometimes not random at all but the simple, inevitable unfolding of God's divine purpose. Occasionally I ponder on the "chance" meetings in my life that have brought enduring gifts. Similarly, words from others that were said in casual conversation have, again and again, had a big impact on me. There are are several offhand phrases, uttered in some incidental way by folks in my past, that steer me now years later. I wonder at times what I've unwittingly said to others or acts I've carelessly modeled to another that might stick with them. I pray that, if I have generated such moments, my impact has been positive.

Driftin' or Destination-Driven?

I'd had a rough time for sure
Trying to find a place to settle
I'd been outta grub a day and a half
But this weren't the first test of my mettle

I was driftin' north outta Wyoming
'Prob'ly shoulda' headed south to winter-up
Somewheres yet south of Bozeman
The snow was starting to build up

I saw a flicker of light far off
I thought it was a campfire at first glance
But, lookin’ through binos, I smiled to see
I'd found a small cabin by chance

Steppin' down from my saddle half frozen
I shuffled stiffly to the door
My gloved hand made a knock
Silently praying they wouldn't ignore

The door opened slowly with a creak
There stood a tall hombre with a gun
I reckon I looked a might used
Fact is I was pretty well done

After a quick once-over assessment
The man softened his eyes, relaxin' some
He called something over his shoulder
And smilin', invited me to come

From the cracklin' stone fireplace
Came a God-send of welcome heat
Rushin' right up behind that
Was the savory smell of cooked meat

He had himself a handsome wife
Two daughters and his son, a tall lad
Plus a white-haired, grinnin’ old-timer
Who they affectionately called Grandad

Without askin' the lad donned his coat
And went out to give my horse care
Sayin' he'd put him up in the barn
And give him what grain they could spare

Expressin' my heartfelt gratitude
I offered my name was Pete
The man introduced his family
And, slidin' a chair, offered me a seat

Without asking nary a question
At their small table they set another place
Grandad dragged over a nail keg
Then the man bowed and said grace

Served up with love and laughter
That meal was a comfort indeed
Yet bein' short on companionship
Their kindness filled my bigger need

Having no room in the cabin
They let me sleep in a stall
On some straw I spread my bedroll
'Mongst my horse, a milk cow, and all

They sent me off after a breakfast
With a loaf and jerky in a flour sack
Me and my 'paloose moved out slowly
Mostly just wantin' to go back

I'd spent my whole life a'driftin'
Orphaned by a fire in Illinois
I'd worked my way west from camp to camp
Livin' the unencumbered life of a cowboy

Never really had family connections
Of such things I'd ever lived wary
Having tragically lost mine in my youth
I'd found it prudent to just not marry

Now I began rethinking that scheme
Due to them folks back by Pine Creek
My shying away from such bonds
Now looked foolish and weak

Without benefit of family burden
I'd spent twenty-some years all alone
That so-called burden brings comforts
As that three-generation family had shown

That man back there in that cabin
Radiated considerable pride for his kin
He protected and provided noble
His role had gotten under my skin

That got me thinkin' of Fort Benton
And a pretty redhead named Anna
She'd always had a fancy for me
Was she why I was driftin' to Montana?

Then that’s when I up and cinched
A better-late-than-never decision
I smiled ponderin' me and Anna hitched
It was a comfortin', beautiful vision

I'd been gone something less than a year
Fort Benton was now my aim
I was going to lookup sweet Anna
And rekindle that happy flame

In time I would take a knee
We’d build us a life and a clan
Out on Montana’s shortgrass range
At last I finally had me a life-plan

by Rik Goodell

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