Pages Navigation Menu

Scenic Ranch Road & Writing

The ‘Scenic” ranch road dissects the East Pasture of our cattle ranch, and then takes a fairly steep grade towards the creek bottom, descending next to a tree lined canyon. At the lowest point you drive through a dense thicket of plum bushes, a china berry grove, and wild grape-vines. Towering cottonwood trees, that are decades old, cast shadows on this peaceful place. The terrain is diverse and timeless, and feels miles away from the modern world.

2012 spring 003

I grew up in a small town and I married a man who was raised in the boonies. We lived in town for as long as he could stand it, and then we moved onto a dirt road when the kids were in elementary school.  I never imagined the endless sky and a bunch of cows would inspire so many stories. It’s so quiet out here, except for the noisy barn swallows on our back patio. The feeling of peace and contentment as I stare at a Texas sunset never fails to astound me. Or the overwhelming helplessness at seeing the brown, thirsty grass during years of drought. It’ll rain again, we say out loud. Hoping. Praying. Will it? Will it ever rain again?

spring 205.2

It does. Glorious rain drops fall from the sky and you sense the pasture sigh with relief. The air, damp with moisture, caresses the buffalo grass and blue stem. The cottonwood leaves rustle in the breeze as if to say we’re doing alright now. Nonetheless, there’s always a tree or two that doesn’t make it through the cold winter after a dry year, and a patch of ground that comes back dense with weeds instead of grass.

Several years ago it really rained, and two creeks converged right in the middle of the Scenic Drive road. The force of the water formed a whirlpool that washed out a five foot hole making it impassable. The road was barely navigable by four-wheeler.

The scenic ranch road holds a certain charm even in winter.

I used to love driving along that road. It’s now covered in soft sand and cow prints, and if you look really close, tracks from deer, wild turkey, quail, and bobcat too. The steep grade is terraced in uneven ledges, while other places have deep trenches dug out by running water. In some places there is no evidence that this was once a path for modern vehicles. Nature has a way of erasing traces of human presence as a reminder of how powerful the forces of our earth can be.

I wish I could take you on a drive in the 4-wheeler along our  Scenic ranch road. I want to help you understand what it means to be a part of this vast land, how a Texas sky can take your breath away, or what it feels like to have an unblocked view that extends for farther than you can walk in a day.

Besides the scenery, you’d probably love the quirky, interesting and always friendly people. They have an unshakable can-do attitude and a fierce pride for their state and country that has been passed down through generations. I read somewhere that home should feel like you’re on vacation. We are blessed to call the Texas Panhandle home. Since I can’t take you all along for a drive, I will keep writing about the west instead.

003 post and barbed wire

World rodeo champion Larry Mahan explained it best in a Facebook post:

“We Are the West. It’s not about geography. It is a culture, a heritage…our heritage. One of hard work, discipline, self-reliance, independence and community; family, friends, and neighbors. Love and respect for the United States of America. It’s a Feeling, a Code, a Reality, a Freedom, and a Lifestyle. We are all part of this blessed and diverse group who love the spirit and energy of the Great American West.”

The view from my back patio!

The view from my back patio.

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the RESCUE ANIMAL eBook series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017).