A Sketch: 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

It has been a while since I’ve jumped in the blogging saddle, so here is a sketch of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada—home to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. If you’re a fan of folk music and you’re unfamiliar with Elko, the Gathering, or with the concept of cowboy poetry, do yourself a favor and look into it. Going on thirty-three years, the multi-venue event runs from the last weekend of January through the first week of February. On the last night of the Gathering this year, my wife, kids, and I met Don Edwards, a cowboy singer from Texas, during a meet and greet held at the Elko Convention Center. We also met Montana-based poet, Paul Zarzyski, who inscribed “Spur the Words Wild!” beneath his autograph in my Moleskine notebook.

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The Wayward Pocket Knife

Wayward Pocket Knife

In case you can’t read my awesome handwriting, here’s the transcript (or whatever the cool kids and hipsters call it nowadays):

I lost my new Case pocket knife Angela gave me for Christmas, prompting me to turn the house upside down in [an] attempt to find it. I commissioned the children to help me search for it after supper.

Tipping the sofa over, I found, a wooden spoon, my guitar tuner, a saltine cracker, and a Duplo block. No knife. I was losing my mind. I resigned myself to the fact that perhaps the wayward knife was lost—maybe when we went sledding on the weekend. But, then, I tripped on my dirty Carhart pants. There in the left front pocket was my beloved Case pocket knife! All was right again.

Elephant Feet on the Navajo Nation

Elephant Feet_Navajo Nation

I revisited my fond feelings towards the Navajo Nation and all the beauty found there. I didn’t sketch this while I was there last August, but I referenced a photo I took on my way back from Kayenta and the Black Mesa (south of the ever-popular Monument Valley). I threw off the shackles of the blank page and sat on my couch and went at it for a few minutes earlier this week. I waged a good battle trying to figure out how to get our scanner to work the rest of this week. Many thanks to my wife for helping me to prevail against the Hewlett-Packard beast!

Missing in this sketch, the Navajo craft vendors with their lovely wares. When I stopped to admire these sandstone formations beside the highway, a few Native women were  setting up their folding tables, laying out table cloth and setting up their chairs under awnings which were also methodically assembled. There is so much to see and discover there in Navajo country. It’s little curiosities, like the subject of this sketch, which so often catch my attention.

Perhaps I may take my family back next time, making Monument Valley a priority on the trip. Of course, I’d have to take them to see the Elephant Feet at some juncture; a sign pointing travelers towards real fossilized dinosaur tracks near Tuba City also grabbed my fancy. Now, if only my job allowed the highway wanderer in me to run rampant.