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“It was so quiet I could hear the dawn coming”

October 5, 2008

shawneetrail290.jpgPoetry out of the mouth of a cowboy, inscribed among other quips and observations about life on the cattle trails lifting up from southern Texas and headed for the railheads at Kansas City and else where, and eventually to the slaughter yards in Chicago and New York. It is carved into the flagstones of a memorial erected to honour the memory of the Shawnee Trail near which our hotel now sits and which is now obliterated by highways. No beef in sight except for these bronze representations and the occasional burger joint. Or two or three, it being Texas and all. But the memorial is a nice surprise – its not the cattle that are commemorated but the cowboys who over the years shifted 98million cattle north. Their sanguine, laconic observations, preserved here by someone with some foresight (and insight) have the same timbre as rustic folk the world over. “A good cook is one who keeps himself clean and shaved.” Amen to that. “Only cattle know why they stampede and they ain’t talking.”

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