Wallace Stegner famously said: the West faces you like a dare… I think a lot of Easterners feel that to live out this way is to go after that dare, to live adventurously, to embrace and appreciate the wilderness expanse as well as their adopted communities. Herriman was good. Mancos is much better.
Today as a representation:
It started with dogs whining before daylight. They know the routine. In fact, they dictate the routine: I grab a reheated cup of coffee and we toss hay, check the horses, and walk the length of the driveway (about a quarter mile).
It’s Sunday and I have decided to attend Mass at St. Rita’s in Mancos. Why would this devout agnostic attend Mass, you ask? Mostly karma – I got a good feeling when I passed by the small, brown and white-walled church and I also really love Pope Francis and all that he is doing with
inclusivity, wealth disparity, the environment, etc. Call me a fair-weather fan. Also, I’m also interested in getting to know the community and St. Rita’s was one avenue of several to explore. [Other activities in the mix: meeting the library director, visiting a café, and chatting up the folks at the grocery store, the liquor store, the post office.]
Plus, St. Rita is the saint of Lost Causes. Count me in!
At 830 am, the church is pleasantly full with a mix of what seems like ranchers, white- and blue-collars parishioners. Most are my age or so and white, though there are some Hispanics and Father Pat has a faint Spanish accent. Most of the men wear button-down shirts tucked into Wranglers or Levis with sneakers or cowboy boots. Plenty of big belt buckles.
I do like the ritual of Mass, the physical up-and-down and up-and-down, the familiar phrases, and the ‘Peace be with you’s.’ Father Pat seemed alright, too.
Seated in the way back, I somehow got to talking quietyly with my neighbor about dogs. He loves bloodhounds. He and his vet were taking a road trip to Texas soon, to meet a couple driving from Arkansas with three bloodhound pups for him to check out.
After Mass, I shook Father Pat’s hand and crossed Main Street just before 200 or more head of cattle took over the thoroughfare. What a scene. Church goers and breakfast diners at the café up the street all stopped and watched as the cattle moved through town, bawling, shitting, and trotting up the road. It was a big herd managed by just a few cowboys and two trucks, one fore and one aft. Aside from me, I don’t think many were too impressed by the interruption; that attitude made me smile even more.
Early on in our research of the area, I discovered the Absolute Bakery and Café with its excellent breakfast burritos, sweets, coffee, and art-strewn walls. It’s my theory that places like the ABC can be indicative of a vibrant town. The theory, though, has a more gastronomical root: I love my local sweets and caffeine. The Fahrenheit, down the street, has better coffee; they roast their own.
Last week, I discovered another joint for my jones: Serious Delights makes the best blueberry muffins and blackberry bran muffins I’ve ever tasted. And that’s saying a lot, I tell ya. They may be the reason I head to the Durango Farmers Market every Saturday. Sorry, farmers.
Anyway, after church, cattle watching, and a chat (more like a 30-minute talk) with a neighbor and his dogs, I returned home to my beloved blueberry muffin before heading out on a ride.
Riding Shea, ponying Pep, and bringing along two dogs, I moved down the canyon, seeing plenty of bear scat, dodging showers, and taking in the stunning cliffs and embankments to the east and west. Mesa Verde National Park is just a few miles away, as the crow flies. We stopped for tea, water, and snacks before heading back.
A good day.