the singing falls waterfall scribe logo capella, the goat shepherd's constellation
The Quill
Of the
Is Art
For The Mind
And Heart




~~*  A Cowboy Named "Avi"*~~


Avi is my friend, and I'm a proud to know him because I actually don't know that many true cowboys. Most of the cowboys I am fortunate enough to be acquainted with are actually "cow men". They've grown up and their boots are caked with a lot of years, stained badly sometimes by a lot of tears. But, I digress...splash dot!


image of author

Avi is an eleven year old cowboy. The fact that he's but eleven years of age does not make him any less a cowboy, mind you. I hope I can find the right words to introduce this fine young man to you because the finest of words are what he deserves.splash dot!


I cannot really begin without first introducing to you Avi's parents, for their gene pool is what made the boy up in the first place. Their careful and Godly counsel seems to be making a difference in the child's life, also. David and Julie are good friends of ours. Well, in reality, David is one of Stan's closest friends and Julie just happens to be one of my closest friends. A phrase in the land that has fastened itself to my heart like a tag on a thrift store find goes something like this: "A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you." Julie has been a true friend to me and continues to be.splash dot!


We met David and Julie at a big gathering of sheep people. At the time, the couple were watching the angora goat show with an intensity that made me suspect their own goat was being judged. Julie had a noose around her neck with a fancy camera hanging from it. She was aiming that camera at the Grand Champion angora goat doe inside the ring, catching every angle.splash dot!


I watched the gal aim her camera at the goat that was being held at bay by a groomed young man. Across the goat's cocoa brown fleece lay the coveted royal purple ribbon embossed in gold letters. The Judge's voice was still booming into the microphone explaining to the crowd why she had selected this doe over all the rest.splash dot!


I admit I'm a people watcher. I tend to scrutinize them with a fine tooth comb. It's embarrassing sometimes to have their unwary eye suddenly look upward to find me watching them, and then I usually turn my head away, afraid to look again. But I enjoy watching the emotions and nuances that play, like shadow and light, upon the faces of people around me.splash dot!


That day I watched the woman with the camera. Her head was held high and her mannerisms belied those of an aristocrat, a noble, unwittingly snared into a peasant's world. She was dressed a little differently than the rest of the crowd, a lot like me, in fact. Wearing what looked to be 1850's homespun, the brown and white skirt stopped mid calf. Julie's auburn hair was pulled into the French braid she always wears in her hair, one streaked with gold all along its length from the sun she loves to walk under.splash dot!


The man she married was standing against a length of fence watching the goat show, guiding the young man in the ring. He was wearing a long sleeved tomato red shirt with a turtle neck. The well worn garment must have seen better days. I had shirts like that, too – ones that had been battered inside a washing machine and dried in the sun too many times but because of comfort remained a favorite piece of apparel.splash dot!


Stan and I sat in the bleachers. Stan had his Bible in tow that day. Sometimes he'll take his Bible with him when we go to an event, and on this day it was in hand.splash dot!


"I'm going to go talk with that guy," Stan said of David. He lifted. I watched him standing alongside David and soon they seemed to be talking easily, as though they had been friends for years. I'm a bit shy and didn't talk much to Julie that day, though we did meet.splash dot!


In time David and Stan and Julie and I became the best of friends, and today I would trust Julie with my life. But, after all, I started writing this story about Avi, the cowboy.splash dot!


Avi was actually named "Abram" by his parents according to his birth certificate. After this farm family had come a'visitin' our place a few times and we'd gone to their's a time or two for chicken and dumplins' and a glass of the fine homemade wine that Julie's father is famous for, my husband (a Hebrew scholar of sorts) began to call young Abram "Avram". Abram told his parents one day that he wanted "Avram" to be his name. They acquiesced, the name was shortened to "Avi" and Avi it is.splash dot!


I caint recall the exact timing, but I'd put it around two years ago now. The family had invited us to their big sprawling farm with the graying timber frame barn, a majestic but decaying momento of an earlier time in Oregon's history. They live approximately two hours away and Stan and I were saddling the horses for the jaunt. Stan placed two deep green glass flasks of our famous homemade blackberry wine into his saddlebag and cushioned them with brown paper. He then cinched the bag tightly. My pony and I followed on behind.splash dot!


By the time we rode into Cornerstone Ranch, we were tired and dusty from the long ride. Avi greeted us first. He was out there tending the fowl. Avi was always out there tending his fowl. He sat on an old log stump. Two peacocks, one pure white and one brilliant emerald, turquoise and midnight blue, slowly sauntered around the boy, their plumage, like long bridal veils, trailing behind. Quacking ducks and cackling chickens circled the winsome lad. In his lap sat a big rooster whose tail was a rainbow.splash dot!


I took note of Avi that day with my careful eye. He was wearing dusty boots and silver spurs. A triangle of red cloth circled about his neck, on call should the dust become thick in the fray. A felted black hat that had lost too much of its crease and denim jeans completed the outfit well.splash dot!


"Howdy, cowboy!" I called out as I dismounted and tied my red pony to a hitching post outside that homestead. He was still at the age of hugs, and he dropped the rooster and ran through the maze of cackling and quacking birds to first hug me, then uncle Stan.splash dot!


There were many visits back and forth between the families and I got to know the little cowpoke a bit better with each visit. One such visit was at their campside fire this past summer. They were campin' up by Umpqua Falls in our neck of the woods, like they'd done now for two or three years in a row. In fact, it was becoming somewhat of an annual ritual for all of us. Again, in the heat of another summer, they kindly invited us to come sit by their fire.splash dot!


Julie asked that I bring my guitar and sing. I balked at first. I had not played my guitar in years, even forgetting how to tune it. They liked my singing voice, as I had sung a few times at house church meetings. But, shoot fire, I didn't sing cowboy songs when I did sing – just old hymns and private meanderings of faith and hope. The tips of my fingers were not calloused enough to play the instrument like I used to do. I was just going to politely deny Julie's request.splash dot!


But, in the end, I decided to give it a good try - if only for the cowboy in boots and spurs, and his little brother, Wheat. David put steaks on the grill while the red coals burned low and the potato salad and summer fare was spread out on the wood table. Blackberry cordial was poured into styrofoam goblets. The sky slowly changed color and darkened, the coyotes yodeled, and we, as friends, talked and laughed about many things. Our friendship was comfortable and seasoned, having gone through fire and survived the flame.splash dot!


The boys reclined in little chairs. Wheat was talking a mile a minute. Avi was quiet and thinking. His handsome face reflected gold and shadow from the light of the fire, and he watched the burning embers like cowboys have done for centuries. I took out the guitar and tried with all my might to tune it. Stan says I did not succeed, but it was tuned enough to my liking and everyone but Stan insisted it sounded just fine. Then I began to improvise cowboy songs for the boys, but mostly for Avi.splash dot!


I'm a young cowboy, and I live in Yoncalla,
I ride a good horse – her name is "Beauty"
My boots are worn, my spurs they do jingle
This hat is torn, I'm not married, but single...splash dot!


Well, I don't recall all the lines in the tune, but it's not hard to improvise a good cowboy tune if the campfarr is glowing red coals, the moon is aglow, and it's not raining in Oregon. The crickets were delirious with joy that night. Summer was at high mast.splash dot!


I put her into full throttle after wetting my lips one more time. As though overtaken by the wind of another era I suddenly belted out "She Be Comin' Round the Mountain Win She Comes". The accent seemed to come from somewhere locked inside of me, a time warp unraveled from all the westerns I watched when still a youngster. As I played and crooned I looked around me at the faces reflected in gold. David threw his head back and laughed hard. Julie was smiling with Wheat in her lap, his little legs hanging down against her skirts, which moved with her tapping feet. Even my Stan was laughing with abandonment (I can hardly ivver git him to laugh!) It was 1850 and the wagons were circled and we felt the peace of the Lord in our midst. My, what a good time we were having!splash dot!


I sang and watched the young Avi. He seemed content to just sit by the fire and listen to the melodies, and he didn't think any of it a bit funny, either. It was a magical night for the young one who was satisfied feeling the gentle breeze that stirred in the air, watching the flames dance, and listening to the music that belonged next to a campfire, the music that soothed a cowboy soul.splash dot!


The next time I saw the cowboy was not very long ago. We invited their crew to our house for a big lunch. Somehow it had skipped my mind that cowboys only ate standard fare – steak, potatoes, jerky, baked molasses beans, round bread baked on coals, torn by hand and slathered in butter. Instead, on my table was brown rice and stir fry vegetables from the garden seasoned with garlic, honeyed soy sauce, onions and leeks. Chinese stir fry, I guess you'd call it. To top it off, I had breaded and fried tofu, and that was added to the stir fry. Gourmet, really. But not cowboy fare.splash dot!


As I was about to seat my guests, brother David came to me quietly on cat's paws.splash dot!


"Sister Sandy, could you maybe not tell Avi that there stuff yor servin' has toe-foo in it? We made some of thet toe-foo stuff recently and he refused to eat it. I think if you don't tell him what it is, he'll eat it with gusto." He smiled with an apology in his eyes.splash dot!


Well, I understood the request, and stirred the tofu chunks into the stir fry so that to the unsuspecting cowboy they might look a lot like chicken. We sat at table and Stan asked brother David to say the blessing. Then we dug into the meal. Julie, who had not heard her husband's request, as she savored a sip of wine, suddenly spoke. "Oh, tofu! I love tofu. Sister, this looks like one of your famous meals again!!" She shone with happiness.splash dot!


I watched David wince. I looked quickly over to the young cowboy. He was staring straight ahead at his plate with a look on his face that belied his thoughts.splash dot!


"Toe- foo!!!!?"splash dot!


I laughed aloud at the irony. "Cowboys don't eat TOFU! They eat steak, don't they Avi?" He looked at me with those big brown eyes saying everything that needed to be said. It was apparent that I understood him, even if no one else did. He ended up scooting his chopsticks around his plate ("what'r these, ma'am – giant toothpicks?"), and finally he did manage to eat a few stir fry vegetables and all his rice. The toe-foo ended up askew in the plate, deserted by the cowboy who had dreams of steak and probably would take down a box of Mighty O's when he got home.splash dot!


Soon those jingling spurs were up and out the door and he and his brother, their voices loud with the joy of childhood, played while the grown ups talked.splash dot!


Later on a patch of grass where Julie and I sat, I thought about that cute little neighbor gal about his age. "Maybe they'll end up together, huh Julie?", I razzed her.splash dot!


"I don't know," she replied. "I sure like her – of all three of those gals, I like her the most. But, not long ago she came over in a big pink neckerchief, and Avi just looked at me and rolled his eyes. He didn't want anything to do with her!"splash dot!


"Why not?" I asked impulsively. Afterall, I knew that the two boys loved to play and the more friends, the merrier.splash dot!


"Because, number one, she's a girl. And number two – she was wearing PINK! Anyone who wears pink is an enemy," she laughed, knowing how rapidly childhood turns to adulthood.splash dot!


I thought back on our time together at the campground and became very quiet in my musings. I thought of the scripture I had just read earlier that week.splash dot!


"See to it that you despise not any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels continually behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."splash dot!


I looked at the cowboy and his little brother wrestling on the grass while the summer sun gently ebbed and the afternoon breezes stirred, and suddenly realized there were more folks in our midst than we realized...splash dot!



image of author
goats butting heads


scripted signature


Alexandra Scribe
Homestead Home


Stanley & Alexandra Petrowski
34620 Tiller Trail Hwy.
Tiller, Oregon 97484