Posts Tagged ‘broken fingers. Jarbidge’

Jarbidge. Mahoney Ranger Station. 1957-1959.

Mahoney. Ma-HOE-nee. Irish. “Descendant of the Bear”

Jarbidge. Shoshone, probably. Tsahabits? Giant in the cave. Site of the last know Stage Coach Robbery.

The best mud pies can be made in a gravel drive as long as the fire crews aren’t expected any time soon. If there are fire crews, you can’t play in the driveway.

I liked to pick the rocks out and mix the white dust with the old rain water until I reached a moldable texture. It was all in the feel of the mud, cool and brown between my fingers. I picked wild yarrow and Queen Anne’s Lace and pulled the tiny florets off to mix into the “dough”. I didn’t know the flower’s names then, those came with age.The idea was to make the pies pretty, but the mud enveloped the florets and turned them an icky brown.

I wiped my hands on my top and looked around. If there was an adult watching, I was blissfully unaware. In retrospect – not in memory – my mother was probably by the picket fence, holding my infant sister, and watching. My brother was probably getting into trouble.

There was an empty pasture to the west of the parking lot. The barn to the north, with the corrals. Eastward, where the ridge came down and the aspens mixed with pines, there was a pair of pastures between parking lot and tree line. In the southern pasture, a lone horse was held. The palomino.

There was something wrong with the palomino, but I didn’t understand what. He was wild? Crazy? Hurt? Today, he was antsy, pacing his pasture and nickering. When I turned to watch him, he suddenly reared up onto his hind legs and pawed at the sky, whinnying loudly. Sunlight glinted off of his cream mane and tail. He reared a second time and then bucked a little in the grassy pasture.

I was delighted. He’d done this just for me. I clapped my hands and bobbed on my legs, “Pretty!” I had my very own Trigger, in my very own back yard, even if I was supposed to stay away from him!



I looked around at the fetlocks and hooves. The smell of horse was overwhelming. Dust swirled around me. I was so happy.

Then I looked up.

Maybe it was the voice that prompted me to look up. There was a face in the little window of the barn loft, a face pale and ashen. It was shouting my name. I didn’t know who the face belonged to, but he sounded upset. I froze. Was I in trouble?

“The baby! The baby is in with the horses!”

Somehow, I knew I was in trouble.

Then I was not in with the horses and the memory disappears.

My father confirmed that yes, I did walk into the corral while they were feeding horses once. Yes, his heart stopped. Yes, he thought I would get kicked. It never occured to me or to the half-wild remuda that circled around me, fighting for hay.

I have a crooked middle finger on my left hand. I asked my mother about it once and she blinked. “I think it was the cow,” she said, quietly. We were both nursing a glass of wine. I was 17 and she was my best friend.

“The cow?”

She nodded. “I sat you down. We were watching them rope or something. I forget. We were so far away that I didn’t think about it, then the cow bolted. It came straight for you and I couldn’t get to you in time. It stepped on you. I think. I think it broke your finger.”

I don’t remember the cow. She swore I was no more than 6 months old. She didn’t know if my finger broke or not. Who took kids to the hospital from remote Jarbidge, Nevada?

Sometimes I wonder if the horse memory isn’t mixed up with the cow charging. But I could stand when I toddled through the horse corral and the fire crew freaked out. And I only remember the smell of horses, that wonderful hay-y smell of horses. Hooves, shoes, fetlocks, and dust.

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