He went out the mountain to pray… Luke 6:12

Vanishing Art: A Cowboy’s Poem

Because I am haunted by a cowboy’s heartfelt poem, I’ll confide certain thoughts on the subject of development in the Nevada desert where, last year, my husband and I bought a small parcel of land.  We, stewards of solitude, if only in our minds, hope to one day build on the land a small self-sufficient homestead and never to have a neighbor closer than the house which exists more than a mile away.  It appears that demographics are veering in our favor for whereas Nevada was, for 19 consecutive years until 2006, the fastest growing state in this country, new trends indicate that Americans are moving to Washington D.C., Texas, and a second state, the identity of which happily escapes me along with the throngs.  But my optimism is tempered by a cowboy’s voice–I remember only the gist of his poem which I stumbled across on the internet once and have not been able to find since.  He professed his love for the range but mourned his diminishing life there, forced to spend increasing numbers of days indoors at meetings, while outside development bloomed in spring and other seasons.

When my husband and I began to shop for land in Nevada, we contacted the seller of a 10-acre parcel near Montello.  The seller touted in the material he emailed us, “This is a ‘Ranch.”  And perhaps it was, in nomenclature but his stated intentions, had he been able to keep the property, were to build a summer camp there.  A few freeway exits west of the land we eventually purchased, there sits an enormous new development featuring “ranchettes” comprised of five-acre parcels, each of which does or will contain a single-family home.  Though now still largely sagebrush the project promises to contribute as, admittedly, do my husband and I, to issues of planning that pull the cowboy from his range.  Perhaps those ranchettes virtually qualify as “Ranches” in the minds of their owners but I suspect the cowboy whose poem I cannot locate would offer a different perspective.  And fear the disappearance of his poem a foreshadowing.

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