Last of the Saddle Tramps

Mesannie Wilkins

Mesannie Wilkins riding Rex,  Depeche Toi on Tarzan

A wise man once told me it’s good practice to read books published before you were born. Last of the Saddle Tramps just makes the cut. Published in 1966, it is a memoir, Mesannie Wilkin’s accounting of her great journey from Minot, Maine to Los Angeles. On horseback.

In 1954, Mesannie was 63 and she didn’t think she’d survive another winter in Maine. She’d been a farmer all her life, but now her kin were dead, her stock gone, she was plagued by bad lungs, and the bank was foreclosing on her house. Worse, her doctor told her she only had two or so years left to live–if she lived quietly.

Instead of following his advice, she decided to spend almost all of her money on a cheap horse, and traveled to the Golden State with her little dog, Depeche Toi, the clothes on her back, $32.00 in her pocket, and very little else. Along the way, she met with great kindness–and scores of unforgettable characters.

I read this book in a single sitting–it is that engrossing. Her voice is honest and engaging and the clear prose is full of  slow, country wit and precise character sketches. (Kudos to her co-writer, Mina Sawyer.)  The humor caught me first, and then I began to boggle at how tough this woman was. Rawhide tough. Seriously, reading this made me wonder why I’ve ever complained about anything in my life.

This story is a reminder that you’re never too old to change your course, shake up your life–or even have a grand adventure. It’s also refreshing to read a book where the hero is an older woman. Such stories are scarce as hens’ teeth.

I won’t say more. Highly recommended. I was lucky enough to find this book at the library. It’s also sold through the publishing arm of the Long Rider’s Guild (I think?), Horse Travel Books, where they keep all sorts of obscure, horsey memoirs in print. Bless them. It’s also available at Amazon, and you might find a used copy here or there, too.

Saturday Linkages: Goats, Chainsaws and a Big Blue Rooster

ku-xlarge

Mason Jar + Juice Carton = Resealable Dispenser

Inspiration
Bike Trailers http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lloydkahn/~3/BGY9jmWITPc/bike-trailers.html …

11 things it took me 42 years to learn http://bit.ly/1175KcM

See the Documentary “Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard” if You Can by Allen Bush http://gardenrant.com/2013/07/see-the-documentary-wonder-the-lives-of-anna-and-harlan-hubbard-if-you-can.html?utm_source=feedly …

Crafty
Crafting with cat hair: no, I’m not making this up 

The Redventure Romp Cocktail by Amy Stewart http://gardenrant.com/2013/07/the-redventure-romp-cocktail.html?utm_source=feedly …

Vinyl Record Lamps http://www.dudecraft.com/2013/07/vinyl-record-lamps.html …

Combine a Mason Jar and Juice Carton into a Resealable Dispenser http://lifehacker.com/combine-a-mason-jar-and-juice-carton-into-a-resealable-845153794 …

Artist Jay Nelson’s Tiny Houseboat http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2013/07/artist-jay-nelsons-tiny-houseboat.html#.UfBzg3Afa-Q.twitter …

Humanist bathroom tiny stuff holder http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Ikeahacker/~3/wKFLUf0kLNU/humanist-bathroom-tiny-stuff-holder.html …

Livestock
Put The Goats To Work? http://hencam.com/thevintagehen/2013/07/put-the-goats-to-work/ …

How Long Do Chickens Live? | HenCam http://hencam.com/faq/2012/10/how-long-do-chickens-live-2/ …

Woman fined for letting horse poop inside UK McDonald’s http://barfblog.com/2013/07/woman-fined-for-letting-horse-poop-inside-uk-mcdonalds/ …

Be careful out there . . .
Chainsaws — Can We Talk? http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lloydkahn/~3/DWbMVDFUSEE/chainsaws-can-we-talk.html …

Home Canning Hobby Leads to Near-Fatal Medical Emergency http://bit.ly/12GguN0 

Big blue cock erected on fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square http://gu.com/p/3hhpk/tw 

We’re all gonna die
Our Coming Food Crisis http://garynabhan.com/i/archives/2163 

A fresh perspective on alleged pesto outbreak in Italy http://barfblog.com/2013/07/a-fresh-perspective-on-alleged-pesto-outbreak-in-italy/ …

The Blip http://nymag.com/news/features/economic-growth-2013-7/ …