The Keeper at The Gate

I had noticed him there before and never thought much about it. Ain’t it funny how when we get used to seeing something we just come to the assumption that it will always be there. It was always at the gate going down to the bottom pasture, once tall and strong now stood brittle and bent.

This particular trip to that pasture I was cooking for a branding. I noticed he was leaning and weatherd a might more than usual. I asked one of the old hands on that outfit, “Why hasn’t someone ever straightened that up or even replaced it?” “Well,” he said, “after supper when you get them dishes done, I will catch you up on some history.”

When them supper dishes were all out of the wreck pans, I poured me a cup of coffee old Bertha had been warming all day and sat down with this fellar to hear his story. “Now tell me about that one old post that has stood there by that gate,” I asked.  “It’s not even in the fence line, it just sits all alone.”

He took a draw off the pipe he was smoking and said these words:

“We just call him the Sentry. That old bodark post was there when I was hired on to this place and that was 53 years ago. It has stood there through blowing and drifting snow, flash floods and heat waves, not to mention the migratory flight of tumbleweeds every fall. I heard that post was put in over a hundred years ago and we all figured if it had stood there that long, we would just leave it be. It has served as night watchman, messenger and hitching post. I myself have left a kerchief tied on there to tell others which pasture I would be in. I knew a fellar who once tied a slick yearling to it while he went and got his trailer. So you see that old lone post has earned a spot and we sometimes even tip our hats to that old cuss, or tell him adios on our way out. I have heard folks call him the Keeper Of the Gate, or the Guardian.”

After everyone had retired to their teepees, I laid there in my bedroll, looking up at the wagon fly that had covered me and many a hand for over 20 years. It too was weatherd and so thin in spots you could almost count the stars. I pondered that ol’ post and the words that fellar had told me. I have great respect for things that have served and maintianed their spot in history. Now this bodark may not be in any fancy book but it has great meaning to those who have known it or learned from it. A lesson I learned from that post is that no matter what things look like at first glance, most of the time there is a deeper meaning- a greater significance. And not everything we see that’s a little bent, standing alone or even a little used is used up. I had a greater respect for that post when I left the bottom pasture than when I went in.

When I got home I visited that old post pile behind the barn looking for some guards to stand at our gate. It sure feels good to have an old friend to visit everyday.

6 thoughts on “The Keeper at The Gate

  1. That old post is like a true friend. They stand by you in all sorts of weather, in the good times and in the bad. We should respect them, show our gratitude, and be thankful for all they do. A lot like the great women we share our lives with. From our mothers to our wives. Our wives are our back bone and advisers. We are very fortunate to have those people or things that help get us through life.

  2. Great story Kent! I grew up in Texas but live in Iowa now and I find that the older I get, the more I miss my roots. I plan on attending your Boot Camp in the spring and I am using the picture of your campsite as my screen saver. The rollings hills and red dirt make me think of home.

    I’ve actually had a hankerin’ lately to find a horse somewhere and just take off across the prairie….. I worked on a ranch in East Texas back in the ’60’s before Uncle Sam made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

    Your story reminds me of the old gate posts I used to see as a kid. As soon as school was out in Fort Worth we’d head out old Highway 114 to Lubbock through Jacksboro, Seymour , Guthrie and all the other “cowtowns” along the way. I loved that country and used to count the fence posts and wonder how long they had been there. My grandad traveled that same route by wagon train in the late 1800’s. Anyway, thanks for the story and hope to ssee you in March.

  3. Great story. Bodark comes from the French phrase “Boise d’ arc,” which means wood of the bow.

    I took down an old fence on my grandpa’s old place. Lots of bodark posts that had been there 70 years. Sure made good firewood.

    • Hank good to hear from you, them ole post are one of a kind. I saw my dad and some other fellers dip nails in a buckent of wagon grease and them try and drive them in them ole post I think more bent over than went in

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