I was sitting on a bench on Midland Avenue in Basalt. As the setting sun cast its light on the old western buildings remaining from the early 1900’s, I found it difficult to get up and return to our house that was in upheaval in preparation for yet another move. Looking down the quiet street I saw a shock of pink, it was my friend coming from her workout to check in with me after our earlier adventure. She was hard to miss with a knock out body, a tight fitting hot pink Lyra top and hair that looked like she had just walked out of the hair salon. Fashion in this valley derives from Lu Lu Lemon and Prana, rather than Chanel and Prada.
We entered Tempranillo, a restaurant in Basalt offering Spanish and Italian cuisine in a casually elegant Bistro setting where if you eat at the bar or the community table you are almost always guaranteed to meet new and interesting people. Basalt may be a sleepy town but if you catch it on the right night it almost feels Metropolitan.
As we sat there enjoying our meal and recounting our adventurous day, up saddled a cowboy onto the barstool next to me. He had a childish face that would never reveal his true age and was wearing a plaid shirt under a leather vest and an unstained white cowboy hat that seemed reserved for evening wear.
I said hello, and as usually happens, my friendliness was received as an invitation to join our conversation. It’s a known fact that my friendliness can be a bit annoying for my friends who just want to spend alone time with me and so I did something I never do, I swirled my barstool and gave him back (It didn’t feel good). When he tapped me on my shoulder for attention I grimaced. It is a fault in my character to invite people in before weighing out the consequences and inevitably my friendliness results in deprivation of my own privacy.
The cowboy clearly did not want my back and kept tapping on my shoulder until my friend requested that he allow us to enjoy our dinner together. I heard resistance but she gave him that female stare for what felt like an eternity until he got up and left us alone. As impressed as I was by my friend’s ability to stand her ground and fight off an intruder with a look exuding feminine strength not to be messed with (I’m incapable of that), I was sad for him, a lost and lonely cowboy who seemed to have medical issues that alcohol was not helping.
When we rose from our stools to go he asked if he may quote to us a poem that he wrote when he was eighteen. He said that his friend stole it out of his notebook and submitted it to a Southern California Poetry Reading that made him “famous”. I recorded him as he spoke but unfortunately, his slurring made it difficult to decipher the exact words and somehow, much to my dismay, his last sentence was cut off. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share it with you because I think it is beautiful and reveals a depth that is masked by illness and alcoholism:
Come sit quietly echo
Sweet child of mine
And watch your river of passion flowing through forests of passion in mind
Come listen to the songbirds of beauty
But oh let the dawn of reality shine
For you are the princess of the sunrise echo
With music a child should know
Step carefully echo, upon the grasses of greener shores
May not lift your laughter to the wind, to the wind on the battling stars
But let you be aware sweet echo never try to oppose, for its forces rage….
I wish I had a picture of him to show you!