8 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I walked out the front door of the log house this morning to be greeted by this.

The view to the West was unsurprisingly similar.

Apparently, it was a universal phenomena.

To the east the view was slightly warmer, but only due to the light of sunrise.

The first serious snowfall. Sometime in the night, the winds had blown in and created a masterpiece of beauty. Still, standing there in a housecoat, over my Duberry boots, I was acutely aware of the cold snap of weather accompanying this poetic still life.

Winter has officially hit.

It hasn’t quite reached these proportions, but we are all aware of the prognosis, aren’t we?

The entire scene reminded me of an Ian Tyson song . . . you know the one. . .

If I get there before the snow flies
And if things are going good
You could meet me if I send you down the fare
But by then it would be winter
Nothing much for you to do
And the wind sure blows cold way out there

And, that reminded me of the book I had just finished reading.

Which inclined me to remember my 12 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas series. From there, it didn’t take long to crunch the numbers, and . . . bring you today’s Great Christmas Gift Idea – Ian Tyson’s just released memoir, The Long Trail: My Life in the West.

Tyson’s biography is candid. He writes unflinchingly about his life in the music business, from his start as half the duo of Ian & Sylvia in the folk scene of the ’60s, his fallout of the musical flavor of the next decades, and his re-emergence as the cowboy renaissance vocalist and writer of, perhaps, the century.

Throughout it all there has been the horses and the West, the changes thereof chronicled through the eyes of a man who has firsthand, from his ranch in the foothills, observed the disfigurement of the land. Tyson is a man who has fought against this destruction, through his work saving the historic OH Ranch, the Oldman Dam (though it was constructed), and against the drilling of exploratory wells in the eastern foothills of the Rockies.

Tyson lives and works at this own ranch, south of Longview. His descriptions of the ranch, the weather, wildlife and the horses are sentimental, loving and inspiring.

While his connection with horses began as a child and later, young man, near Victoria, British Columbia, where he rode broncs for the fun and thrill of it, it was in Ontario, where he met Walter Hellyer, and bought his first cutting horses.

Among them was a “big, buckskin broodmare” – a daughter of Doc Bar named Doc’s Able Mable.

“Having a horse with Doc Bar blood was a very big deal in the 1970s,” writes Tyson.

This was long before the time of chilled or frozen semen, so Tyson took the mare to Texas and had her bred to cutting legend Buster Welch’s rising star, Mr San Peppy. The resulting foal – “a little yellow colt” – was named Doc’s Summer Wages.

After his go at the Fort Worth Futurity with “Yeller”, Tyson eventually advertised him as a stallion, and today, many people are still riding the grand-get of this golden palomino.

It’s all in the book. If you love the West and horses, you’ll love the book, and you’ll appreciate Tyson’s truths about it all.

As he recently stated in a National Post article, “I’ve gotten the s–t kicked out of me, and writing the book was very emotional, but if you can make it through life’s trials and tribulations, it’s cool.”

Ian Tyson is the real deal, he’s lived the life that many only dream of.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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