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Git Home!




A glimmer
of hope.

By Tim Rawlins

Illustration by Vel Miller

It’s summer time. Cattle are turned out. There is a closed gate between our house and the other end of the driveway. My poor wife just can’t figure out why it’s her job to open the gate. The answer is obvious: Our son Wade is only three and much too small.

I refuse to open a gate when I’m the driver. That would be unethical. The code of the West calls for the passenger riding “shotgun” to be the opener of the gate. It’s the eleventh commandment.

There was a cowboy in Montana whose wife was about to give birth. They lived in a remote cow camp. It was winter with two feet of fresh snow on the ground when she went into labor. The story has it that she opened all of the gates on the way to the hospital. That was many years ago. This story is the foundation on which I have built my position on gate ethics.

My wife has some pretty stiff arguments against my gate mores. For instance she says we don’t have ordinary gates. Well, that is true. We don’t actually have a gate, we have a panel. A panel is like a steel gate with no hinges. It is wired to the post but only at the top. This causes the bottom of the panel to drag when she is opening the gate.

Therefore the top rests on her shoulder and sometimes her forehead if she bends over really far while picking up the bottom. Then she has to walk all hunkered over until the gate is open far enough to drive through. She’ll usually stop a couple times during the process, catch her wind, blow the hair out of her face, roll her eyes and continue on. From the driver’s seat the spectacle makes for good watching. Pookie has a fair attitude about it until Sunday morning.

Sunday morning. When the evil ruler of this present darkness tries to rob our joy by making my wife think it’s necessary to wear a dress and high heels to church. Many gate couples have their worst fights on Sunday mornings on the way to worship. Satan will stop at nothing. Gates are one of his crafty devices. He sits on the gatepost early Sunday morning with his legs crossed, smoking a cigarette, drinking a martini and seeking whom he may devour or at least make really crabby. However he is instantly defeated when Pookie gets out and reluctantly begins her wobbly trip across the dirt to the gate. I laugh good-naturedly about her style, which is somewhat unladylike, especially for someone in a dress. To restore her dignity I often, unselfishly, give her pointers, “Don’t drag the panel on the ground, honey, you’ll ruin it.” She’s usually all bent over grunting so I can’t hear her strained remarks. Once back in the car she carries on about the mud or indiscretion of some thoughtless cow. I dust her off and console her with the fact that she has a bad attitude. Nevertheless, I promise to replace the panel with a real gate.

There is one glimmer of hope. We were at a friend’s place the other day when Wade offered to open the gate going into the barn lot. I was apprehensive but I let him try. Through the glassy eyes of a proud father I watched as he undid the latch and gave a mighty pull...ever so slowly the gate swung open. This was not a timed event mind you, so during the process I listened to a few songs on the radio and read “Lonesome Dove” a couple of times, but my son had succeeded at opening his first gate for Daddy. Being that it was the neighbor’s gate it was in good working order so Wade may need a few years to grow and possibly steroids before he’s able to open any of the gates on our ranch. I can’t wait. Until then his mother will have to cowboy up.

To read more of Tim Rawlins work, visit his web site is at <>


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last page update: 04.03.05