We stopped on some random road pushing through the curved asphalt byways outside of Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah. Dust flew and thousands of animals called through the forest of Aspen and Firs. All together, pushing, bleating, rubbing, eating, forcing past but really following. A lone rider tended to all these animals, along with a pair of earth colored unnamed breed of herding dogs.
In another time and place, we would have passed by completely, on another day or hour, the moment not as sweet. Bottlenecked along this red clay road, I was circled and surrounded by these cloven locusts. I learned later that men come up from South America, in this case Peru, and tend to rancher's animals. There is a long history of these hired hands traveling here on short visas and will alone for a life that is both modern in the sense of living a partially "American" life, while also living a way of life that is dead to most in our country.
Most boots aren't in stirrups or on ground anymore. They are behind desks or in memories of the times past. Part of me longs to experience this way of life, part of me knows it is on its deathbed. Some of the cowboy way won't last this generation. Only time will tell the story of the west and how many men on horseback followed heads of cattle or sheep across plains, wood, and desert.