An excerpt, to entice you further

January 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

So the spell of the West, cast already by Mr. Grey, settled about Swede like a thrown loop. There’s magic in tack, as anyone knows who has been to horse sales, and a rubbed saddled, unexpected and pulled from nowhere, owns an allure only dolts resist. Swede’s was a double-rigged Texan with mohair cinches, tooled Mexican patterns on fender and skirt, and a hemp-worn pommel. It was well used, which I believe gave all our imaginations a pleasing slap, and it had also arrived quixotically. Davy had bought it off a farmer who’d bought it off a migrant laborer who’d traded his horse for a windbroke Dodge truck on a dirt road north of Austin; the migrant had said good-bye to his loyal beast but kept the saddle out of sentiment. Days later under northern skies he understood that its presence in the pickup only made him heartsick and he unloaded it cheap to the farmer, who, though confused by Spanish, understood burdens and the need to escape them.

All this Davy told us with Swede astride the saddle in her bedroom floor. Davy’s work had brought the thing back to near perfection; the smell of soaped leather, which is like that of good health, rose around us. It was flawed only in the cantle, where the leather had split and pulled apart. Davy acknowledged with frustration that this must’ve happened years ago and he was unable to mend it. “But it doesn’t matter for riding,” he said.

“That’s true,” Swede said practically, just as if there were a pony out waiting in the yard.

Well, the day defined extravagance. Though wisdom counsels against yanking out all stops, Swede did seem joyously forgetful of recent evils, and we kept the momentum as long as we could: waffles for breakfast, sugar lumps dipped in saucers of coffee. I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.

– Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

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