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BLANCHE EVRIDGE
Champlin, Minnesota
About Blanche Evridge

 

 

Me and Him and Lonzo


I still hear him baying in my dreams, come late at night,
Just like those times with Gran'dad when the world was dark and quiet.
Frost was on the punkins and the corn was ripe to pick
When Gran'dad took that coon dog cross the plains and through the crick.

Lonzo was a mighty beast with golden, shiny hide,
He carried well his handsome face with every cautious stride,
And when he trailed a raccoon and chased it up a tree,
He let go an awesome voice, putting chills all over me.

It sounded different on the run than when the coon was treed,
It floated kinda lazy as he sniffed and ran and peed,
But when the foe was closer and the race was nearly run,
His baying changed to urgency and signaled everyone.

My toes were cold, my nose was read, my shoes were damp with dew,
My hair was straight from sweating, my lips were nearly blue,
But nothing could have held me back from being in that race,
Even when I quit the night with cactus in my face.

You should've seen my gran'dad, Cripes! He thought he was a kid,
Jumping draws and leaping brush the same way Lonzo did,
And I played hell just keeping up, though I was fit and prime,
But chasing coons in moonlight made him younger than his time.

Thinking now about them times; I was a lucky child,
Cuz Gran'dad was a rancher when the Wooly West was wild.
Trailing coons with Lonzo was like a History trip,
With good guys chasing bad guys who were giving us the slip.

Maybe if there's Heaven for a poke with worn out knees,
Where he can bring his hunting dog, regardless of the fleas,
Then that's where I am headed when I've run my last Rat Race,
Cuz me and him and Lonzo--got another coon to chase.

© 2004, Blanche Evridge 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Blanche told us

This poem comes straight out of my memory--although I was too young to be more that a passive participant. I spent most of my "coon hunt" in the car with siblings--but the air was electrified by the voices of the dogs--the talk of the veteran hunters, the honed-edge of cold air. Forty years later, I can close my eyes and reenter Gran'dad's enervating past-time replete with wide-eyed cousins, lathered dogs and cigar-puffing maternal grandfather.

Earlier Blanche had told us that her grandfather, Watson Heston Tidball, was born in Missouri, moved to Oklahoma where "he gained the honor of 'Top Hand' at the age of 18, moved to Washington state, then homesteaded in South Dakota where I was born some time later. Watson Heston Tidball was posthumously named to the South Dakota Cowboy and Western Heritage Hall of Fame."


Left: Watson Heston Tidball's wedding picture. He married Anna Marion Paulson (whose parents emigrated from Denmark to homestead in South Dakota before she was born).

Right: Watson Heston Tidball, named to the South Dakota (Cowboy and Western Heritage) Hall of Fame, September 16, 1978. 

 

 

Flat-Top Momma

Her hair is stiff and "stringy,"
Her "neck" is long and thin,
Her "body" hollowed out by time,
Her smile, a gaping grin.

The features on her "wooden face"
Are like "pegs" stuck in a board.
The wailing of her plaintive voice
Can never be ignored.

—And yet he loves to hold her,
They are partnered up for life,
Together in that ol' blue Ford:
D. W. and his…"wife?"

© 1998, Blanche Elizabeth Evridge, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Blanche told us: When I first began participating in the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Medora, North Dakota, back in the late 90's, the veteran poets and musicians welcomed me as if I was a family member. Some of those who were generous with friendship and smiles naturally include the best of the best, Bill and JoAnn Lowman. Others are the great "ranch-lore" poet, Elizabeth Ebert, retired bronc buster and comedic poet, Jess Howard, tale-spinner Rodney Nelson, off-the wall poet-rancher, R.P. Smith, and cowboy-musician-songwriter-poet, DW Groethe. In gratitude for that easy friendship, I have written a poem in tribute to Jess and his brother Pat Richardson with whom we jammed at Elko, some years back. Also, I wrote and dedicated a song to R.P. entitled "Broken Bow" from whence he hails. And, after hearing D.W. refer to his "wife" (his guitar) numerous times, I conjured up this poem to commemorate that clever wit—Flat-Top Momma. Viva Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering!

 

Christmas in the Badlands

Where the Buttes reach to the Heavens,
and the Badlands cut through Hell,
It’s Christmas on the Prairie…
because of “Cowboy” Belle.
Up before the morning sun
rises in the sky,
Belle must stoke the fireplace
and keep the woodpile dry.

Then coffee black, a piece of toast,
some hen fruit in a pan,
And by the time the clock strikes six,
Belle has formed a plan.
Her time is ladled wisely;
it’s the Season of the Heart,
Cuz “giving” takes precision,
and she’s practiced-well the part.

She knows she has a schedule
that must squeeze in extra chores
to guarantee on Christmas Eve,
she knocks on neighbors’ doors.
In the dark she finds the barn
to feed the orphaned colt,
Then rustles up some corn & oats
to break the chickens’ molt.

She offers extra bedding
to the brood sow in the sty,
And dreams of fresh-fried pork chops,
and skin-on apple pie.
Then falling off of schedule,
she mends the picket fence,
And wonders how her pickup truck
got those extra dents.

Then it’s Noon, time to stop,
time to feed herself—
Homemade stew is what she wants,
but canned is on the shelf.
After lunch, she grabs a nap,
and rues the signs of age—
Years ago she never stopped,
but life has turned a page.

Back outside she fills the sled
and corns the wooly ewes,
Taking time to feed the Pets,
Who’s lead she’s glad to use.
Afternoon, the sun is cold,
the wind begins to blow,
Filling in the sketchy spots
with hard-encrusted snow.

But still she fires the tractor up
and grapples bales of hay,
With covered ears and coveralls
she fills the frozen clay.
The mares trot up to greet her
with a thank you in their eyes,
And cattle show their gratitude
with hungry, lowing sighs.

It’s suppertime? Belle shakes her head;
it’s going to have to wait,
Cuz she and 13 little goats
have got a dinner date.
Once more it’s dark, the temp has dropped
but still there’s far to go;
With pans of milk and Puppy Chow,
she trudges thought the snow.

Inside the house, it’s eight p.m.,
some beans are on the shelf!
Since Christmas gifts await their turn,
she’ll have to push herself.
Each year it takes her longer,
but the Spirit leads her on,
And though her bed is calling—
December’s nearly gone!

When it dawns, the 24th,
she rushes through her chores,
to pack the gifts inside the cab
as down the trail she roars.
The neighbors are her family,
they love her kindly ways,
And how she mothers all of them,
just like her Ranch of Strays.

They know her heart is saintly,
but she’s single, old and poor,
So they fill her truck with needful things…
and the wolf’s kept from the door.
And though she likes The Night Before,
it’s Christmas Morn she loves,
Belle dons her warmest clothes,
Sorel boots and leather gloves.

She drives on out to Black Horse Butte,
and sits there on the hood…
Thanking God for “Cowboy Ways”
and a life that’s long and good.
Where the Buttes reach to the Heavens
and the Badlands cut through Hell,
It’s Christmas on the Prairie…
Because of “Cowboy” Belle.

© 2008, Blanche Elizabeth Evridge, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


Christmas Holly

Holly touched the Christmas tree as Jim turned on the light,
You shoulda heard her giggle with a two-year-old's delight.
She thought she had the magic to light up that ol’ tree,
When little did she know how she lit up Jim and me.

She was jist a mav’rick; a stray without a brand
And Jim and I were lonely with a need to share the land,
So we opened up our ranch house and opened up our hearts
And grew to love that toddler with the strength the Lord imparts.

Course she got lots a teasing cuz she never growed real much,
And some of her weren’t perfect like her toes and eyes and such,
But it made us no matter cuz a heart can’t see too good,
And love kin make a prairie where a mountain one-time stood.

So every year at Christmas, we’d decorate that tree,
And there was little Holly just as happy as could be.
When Jim plugged in those flashing lights she thought she was a Queen,
Lighting up those pretty bulbs, all yellow, red, and green.

It happens with some mav’ricks—not nourished when their throwed,
They can’t seem to flourish like their cousins down the road,
An so it was with Holly; we tried our best on Earth,
But we couldn’t seem to make up for her lonely, orphan birth.

So…every year at Christmas, we add another strand
To celebrate the magic way she gave our hearts her brand.
I wait there by the fireplace while Jim plugs in each light,
And…we sit there until morning...through another silent night.

© 1996, Blanche Elizabeth Evridge, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.
 


Cultivating Traditions

Written while driving up Hwy 79 from Sturgis toward Medora,
N.D.’s 28th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering


Ms. West always holds to Tradition,
Honors those who have labored before
With poems and songs and twisted remarks,
Takes delight in every ranch chore.

She scoffs at modernizing
Anything that could mess with the past,
And believes, if she walks in their footsteps,
Like theirs, her Traditions will last.

But last year’s roundup was chaos,
Yelled directions ‘til her voice box grew coarse,
So...this year brings a Brand New Tradition...
She’ll be TEXTING from atop of her horse.

© 2014, Blanche Elizabeth Evridge, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission."

 

Blanche comments, "Watching the skies, viewing the terrain and tuning in to the essence of the heart of The Ranching West—this poem seemed to write itselfalong with six more and a full-fledged song commemorating one of the Red River Valley's great eras, the historical Bonanza Farms of the late 1800s."
 


 About Blanche Evridge:

(From her Western historical romance novel, MANDAN Dakotah Territory):

Blanche Evridge was born breathing the clover-scented dust of the Great Plains of South Dakota where her great-grandparents homesteaded in the late 1800s, and later her grandparents. Her mother and grandmother were also born there—close to the Bismarck to Deadwood Trail, nearby to where Medicine Man, Sitting Bull was born and killed. With four generations of prairie history galloping through her veins, this story rolls across the pages in graphic precision of places and people who have long awaited the chance to tell their tales.  Ms. Evridge has performed across the west at Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, from her CD of original Western songs and poetry, and books of original Cowboy Poetry. She resides in
Champlin, Minnesota. You may contact her at www.BlancheEvridge.com.   

 

MANDAN Dakotah Territory (novel)

Available for $13.50 postpaid.  Email for ordering details

 

Cowboy Poetry and Western Songs (CD)

Available for $10.00 postpaid. Email for ordering details.


 

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