A few summers ago, while lounging around the Munich Airport waiting for a flight to Reykjavik, I bought a book: “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World,” by Peter Frankopan. Frankopan is a senior fellow at Oxford University, and has written a convincing reassessment of world history. It is also a poignant and extraordinarily well-considered forecast of our possible future as a broader, Western culture.
My wife and I were down in Bend, Oregon, the other day, to visit with some friends and to spend the afternoon watching the Oregon Ducks smash helmets with the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl. I had no dog in the fight – my alma maters are both mired in long-term football mediocrity — so instead of pulling for one side or the other I played the role of annoying snarky guy while munching on some terrific jalapeno poppers and perfectly smoked – and I really do mean perfectly — short ribs. It was a great afternoon full of delightfully low-brow conversation.
Join Craig, Jim, and “Oil Can” Rathbun as they welcome teacher Judy Larson into the bunkhouse on the historic Figure 8 Ranch for Running Iron Podcast Number 14. Presently a middle-school teacher on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Judy brings her considerable experience to talk all things education and to provide an insight into the challenges and rewards of a life in public education. Plus, as a bonus, listeners will learn about Judy’s daughter, who is an accomplished musician presently studying and playing in the castles and fortresses of Europe.
On the same afternoon that I zipped my grandfather into a body bag – he was fortunate to die at home, in his own bed, and the last words he heard on this earth were my grandmother saying she loved him — I inherited one of his old rifles. It was a single shot .22 with a scope from the old regime – decent glass in its day – that he used to teach my father and uncles to shoot in their sprawling back yard in North Hollywood. Under the house he built a pistol range.
As I was reading and writing last night–sketching various attempts at an end of the decade post, I came across a wonderful passage from “The Powder River Expedition Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge.” This was a book I bought myself for Christmas because I maintain an abiding interest in that period of our history and also because I have a long-running fascination with immediate accounts written by the people who were on the ground when events unfolded. That’s true from Caesar to Tacitus, from Samuel Pepys to the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and beyond. I buy them and read them whenever I can.
In this episode, Craig, Jim and “Oil Can” Rathbun are joined in the bunkhouse by Dr. Larry Len Peterson. The author most recently of “American Trinity: Jefferson, Custer, and the Spirit of the West” Dr. Peterson has published numerous highly regarded biographies including “Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting and Wildlife Artist”; “The Call of the Mountains; The Artists of Glacier National Park”; and “Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, A Biography in Words and Pictures” among others. He is the recipient of the 2016 C.M. Russell Heritage Award, two Western Heritage Awards, the Scriver Award, The High Plains Book Award, and the Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. In addition to being a recognized scholar of the history and art history of the American West, Dr. Peterson is an award winning scientist, physician, and cultural historian. Please join us for a fascinating interview with a truly remarkable guest, Dr. Larry Len Peterson.
At 0700 it is dead calm and coal-mine dark here on the Figure 8 Ranch. I’ve got a cup of tea on my desk and just came in from feeding the horses. My face is still cold. From the window where I work I can see the merest outline of the ponderosas, and a soft yellow light spilling out of the barn where I leave the stall lights on for the horses. The light glows yellow on the ice in the paddocks. I can’t prove it, but I think that light works for the horses the same way a night-light works to settle the nerves of children afraid of the dark.
It seems to be that, at some level, the Happy People of the taiga have made a lasting peace with the notion that the challenges and inconveniences of life are natural, and healthy, and can even be fun. Hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere collapsed? No problem, I’ll just build a little fire and whistle a little tune. It’s hard not to love a mindset, a richly lived nonchalance, like that.
After a summer hiatus the boys are back in the bunkhouse on the historic Figure 8 Ranch for a new season of podcasts. Join Craig, Jim, and “Oil Can” Rathbun for this new edition of the Running Iron Podcast: Stories that Shaped Us
There isn’t anything magical about regenerative ranching. The theories put forth by the gurus of holistic management, guys like Allan Savory, Johann Zietsman, Gabe Brown, and others, just make sense. It’s possible to build and repair our soils while raising food and actually improving environmental conditions over time. We know how to do this. But our models for worldwide economic growth all collide with doing anything that is healthy and endlessly repeatable.
It’s interesting that so many politicians and bureaucrats, apparently lacking the strength of their convictions, are assuming noms de plume and making their little pithy appearances in the digital realm. Romney’s “Pierre Delecto” is a particularly daft touch, joining some other recent classics such as James Comey’s “Reinhold Niebuhr” and Anthony Weiner’s “Carlos Danger” as instant splashes of cowardice and evidence of active mushbrain.
In this case the question came from a young person, and they can be forgiven the crudity of their curiosity, even if it is backloaded with tired assumptions force fed by bad television, video games, abysmal schools, and that grandest of American traditions: the full criminal embrace. While the characterization of cops has migrated from the Officer Friendly types on Adam 12 to masked bogeymen in “tanks” fiendishly no-knocking the wrong house, outlaws and very bad people enjoy the fruits of selective judgment.