9 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

The gentle and steady snowfall this week reminded me Christmas is just around the corner . . . just under 9 weeks away in fact. What a fitting day to begin the countdown as the first of the serious snowfalls continues outside my door.

Last year, I began my 12 Weeks ’till Christmas countdown with a book that still marks as one of my favorite go-to photography books, Chicks With Guns. I’m not a hunter, but I loved both the prose and photos within this book. The stories, gathered from 80 women across America, explains, often in eloquent language, why they own and use firearms. The reasons frequently relate to a family tradition – though not always. Sport, hunting and occasionally protection, factor in the reasons these women own firearms. Their personal triumphs and occasional fears are compellingly real.

I have two further book considerations for your Christmas wish list today. The first is West.

Penned and photographed by two Swedes, Lars Aberg and Lars Strandberg, who share a passion for the American West.

Physically, it’s a large book, with 300 images and prose printed artfully on a matte paper which suits the style well. The pair travelled extensively throughout the West, digging into the oddest corners of mythology and everyday life, contemplating a lifestyle that involves hard work as well as vision, and portraying a vast region with both environmental problems, stunning beauty and plenty of what we think of as the human touch.

West poster.

It fits dreamy and contemplative Sunday afternoons, one of those books you can get lost in for an hour or so. It isn’t your typical western anthology, nor does it copy the David Stocklein type. Those who side more on the conventional may find it odd and unfulfilling, as it does present a rather unusual take on the American West.

The second book I want to offer up today is Peter Campbell’s new Willing Partners – Insight on Stockmanship. This simply-styled book, published by A.J. Mangum’s, The Frontier Project, is a smaller sized book, with the depth and straightforwardness many who know Peter would ascribe to his personality. Written in the style of Peter’s mentor, Tom Dorrance’s True Unity, the text is a collection of essays and thoughts on the process of working with a horse.

As he writes in the book, “There are a million different ways to work a horse. For me, there’s only one right way: to work from where the horse is at.”

Peter and his wife Trina, have resided at their ranch in Colorado for many years now, but Peter is Canadian born and cut his teeth in the horse business riding for Parks Canada, training park horses and guiding for a living when he was a young man.

He writes, “Occasionally, though, there were problems with horses, problems I couldn’t solve, no matter what I tried.” He asked a friend for advice and that friend let him know about a man who was coming to Alberta to conduct a clinic on just that subject – solving horse problems.

That man was Ray Hunt, and he influenced how Peter viewed his equine partners. Eager for more, he moved to California to be close to another mentor, Tom Dorrance. Today we know Peter as an excellent horseman and clinician, in the style of the buckaroo, and furthering the philosophies of Dorrance and Hunt. Travelling throughout North America, he shares his insights and inspirations; many are related in essay form in this book, which also happens to be chock full of photos, often snapped at ranches across Canada, and few vintage shots of Peter in his earlier days in the national parkland bordering Banff.

The book is $50 and you can order it from Amazon or the Peter Campbell website.

Over the next 8 weeks I’ll do my best to come up with some of the most innovative western-styled ideas for your Christmas shopping list. We might throw in some giveaways along the way, so remember to keep Screen Doors & Saddles bookmarked.

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