Growing up, my parents raised my brothers and me that if you gave your word, you best keep it or soon nobody will trust a thing that comes out of your mouth. Keep your promises–and that went for the written and spoken. It’s the Jiminy Cricket whisper in my ear, the proverb in my cookie, the cowboy code from my Oklahoma daddy.
That being the case, I’m bound to make good on a promise I gave you. Almost a month ago (where has time gone!), I was in the warm and welcoming city of Tucson. I posted a blog about my fabulous visit to Bookmans Bookstore and my #SurprisesInStoreInTucson reader winner. But I also promised a Story In Pictures (SIP) of the hoedown I was lucky enough to attend. So here’s it is!
“The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Though I wasn’t in the grand territorial state of Oklahoma, I thought this song best captured the spirit of the hoedown and my daddy. He does hail from the very town in which the musical is set.
Once upon a time three Saturdays ago, the two city slickers found themselves in the Old Pueblo city of Tucson with an invitation to a bona fide Arizona hoedown. As luck would have it, the duo had their cowboy boots and wrangler jeans ready for just such an opportunity. So they put on their duds and headed out to THE LAST TERRITORY for what promised to be a ‘hog-killin’ good time.
At exactly 7 p.m., the chow bell rang and folks were ushered down the winding, moonlit path to the ranch yard where the chuck wagon had put on its breaks and set to cooking a feast fit for John Wayne. Chicken and steaks on the bone seared up a smoke storm from the outdoor grill bed. Long checkered tables hosted a smorgasbord of grilled zucchini, summer squash and sweet corn, salad fixings, marinara pasta and buttermilk biscuits that’d make you slap your pappy. The pièce de résistance was a dessert table of cupcakes, pie and fresh whipped cream (the wife’s Achilles heel) so delectable that no cowboy (or girl) could pass without a taste. And all of this for the take as you please.
The travelers followed the crowd, heaping grilled meats and vegetables, biscuits and whipped cream onto their plates—not neglecting the open saloon either.
Under the festive lights strung across the corral beams, they found a seat on picnic benches to eat their bellies full with old and new friends. Within the hour, the band took to the stage armed with banjo, drums and song. One by one, couples meandered into line. Heel toe, dosey, doe, they grapevined, shuffled and stomped.
The wife tried to goad her husband into a dance, but with three steaks in his gut, gluttony weighted him to the bench. Not even a hoedown rendition of ‘Brick House’ (a personal favorite of the couple) could move his spirit. But that didn’t stop her from kicking up some dirt despite his pleas for her to cease her Watusi.
The two city slickers stayed until the moon had risen full and high and the band set to slow two-step songs. Then they wandered back up the winding road, talking and laughing too loud in the desert night, but if it minded, it didn’t say so. The coyote and kit fox and burrowing owl forgave them for frightening away their prey. The cacti and Joshua trees watched silently until they disappeared and only the sandy wind and welkin of stars remained.