October 29, 2009

Why I Love Alpine Hot Spiced Cider

Well, a storm has closed Laramie down today. It’s not the heavy wet flakes but instead the unremitting powder that the wind sculpts into wave forms. It reminds me of why I love Alpine hot spiced cider.

When I was growing up, we had a late-season grazing lease up on the top of the Pryors. This meant that late in the fall while we finishing up our summer grazing—which we spent in cabins with no electricity or running water—we would cut out a herd of cows and drive them up the steep mountain to where shooting stars and pine trees grew. Then, months later when the snow was deep in the high country and we were back at the home place, us kids would be taken out of school for a long weekend in December to round this herd up and bring them down.

It was always frigid and, let me tell you, cowboy boots are not warm. I always dreaded having to pee—finding a copse of trees, creakily hoisting myself off the horse and hopefully into a space blown free of drifts, and then hiking up my coat, down my chaps and pants and longjohns and underwear to try to hold the horse and squat and miss my pantslegs. Anyway, it would take a couple-three days to bring the cows down, winding through canyons and cutbanks down to the home place.

One year, after that first day of roundup, we stayed in some friends’ cabin. It was dark by the time we dropped the cows and piled into the suburban. The warmth of the heater made me drowsy and I could feel as I thawed the radiating cold from my extremities. I didn’t know where we were going. When we drove up, the kerosene lamps through the windows of the cabin looked like Christmas, and when we were invited in, they offered us Alpine hot spiced cider. I glanced at my aunt to make sure that it was okay, and she nodded. The smell of the apples and the cinnamon and the heat of the cup in my hands and the steam on my frost-chapped cheeks gave me such a sense of warmth and satisfaction.

So to this day, I love all things apple, and especially Alpine hot spiced cider.

Oh, and I finished a story today!

What I’m Reading Today: Maile Meloy’s Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, a short story collection. A week ago, I finished her short story collection Half In Love. I’ve always had a hard time finding writers to compare myself to. By that I mean writers who write the same type of material that I attempt. Maile Meloy is the first and only writer I’ve come across who writes what I’m trying to write ~ the West of Wyoming and Montana from a (recovering) ranch girl’s perspective, as well as more broadly. Maile Meloy, wherever you are, this is my love letter to you!

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