About six years ago I was in the Palo Duro Canyon on the JA’S cooking for Rex Glover. We would set camp up the Sunday after Thanksgiving and stay three weeks, give or take a couple of days. It would always be cold and a calm day would have 25 mile per hour winds. This particular gathering brought a new character in to camp by the name of Brother Daniel, a cowboy by trade and by birth. A simple feller who didn’t speak too many words except to his dogs and horses.
Brother would set his teepee up pretty close to me and ole Bertha, he said it was so he could hear the coffee pot in the morning. Brother did like his coffee, and he would go to bed around 7pm and be waiting for me to build the fire every morning. Now according to camp etiquette and the cowboy code, no one would come into the Cook’s kitchen unless they were invited- especially if it was early in the morning. And for Brother that was two hours premature!
I would hear ole Brother a fussin’ and cussin’ JoJo and Pete ( his two dogs and roommates) about 2 am every morning, he would be telling them to quit growling and not to crowd so bad. As soon as I would get a lantern light burning I could here his teepee unzip and here them spurs jingling. Now I like to have a little quite time of a morning and the first time I heard ole Brother heading my way I would turn the lantern out. Brother would nearly get to the wagon and when the light went out he would head back towards his teepee. I would hear the zipper and he’s say, “Go back to sleep you two- it aint ready yet. Well this went on for about three or four more times and finally I gave in and turned that lantern on wide open. When Ole Brother came in he said, “You need to work on that lantern, I can maybe fix it so it will stay on if you’ll let me.” I just chuckled to myself and said I think I got it going.
Now me and ole Brother shared many a cup of coffee warmed by ole Bertha and shared many a story that long cold three weeks. A simple feller he is and that’s why I think he touched my heart the way he did. Brother had all he needed in a teepee, a warm bedroll, two sleeping roommates and a lantern.
I sometimes forget on occasion the simple things in life. To me they mean the most, you know the things folks take for granted. It is amazing in a place rich in cowboy tradition and history that it hits home the fastest. When you don’t have modern conveniences like electricity and running water you get by, and sometimes just sometimes, you get by even better. The world we live in today is sure enough in a hurry and you can get run over everyday if you’re not careful.
So take some advice from Brother and me, slow down when you can, appreciate what you have and savor the moment just like a good cup of coffee.