Pull up a Sagebrush
He was already an old man when I first met him. He was in his early 70's, about 5'9", weighing about 125 pounds, with leathered face and hands from years of working outside. At the time of our meeting, he was a mink rancher in Minnesota who, for a bottle of whiskey or a six-pack of beer would stop his work to tell stories of his 25 years as a cowboy in Montana at the turn of the 20th century.
It was several years after meeting him when I first heard him use the phrase, "pull up a Sagebrush". It was winter in Minnesota; cold, windy, with snow swirling and drifting from the wind. I entered the basement of his home descending through the outdoor (and only entrance) stairwell. Carefully placing my feet, one step at a time, on each snow packed cement step, being prepared to brace myself against the cement walls should I slip. I reached the bottom of the stairwell intact. Pulling on the door knob, I opened the old hand hewn wood door to the warmth of his basement.
Adjusting my eyes as I entered from the bright snowy outside world to the dim interior room brightened by a couple of small awning windows. The first thing I saw was a large wood burning furnace located in the center of the room. The old furnace, wrapped in asbestos, appeared large enough that three grown men locking hands might be able to encircle it. There were three large-octopus-like air ducts sticking out of the stove's upper section reaching up to the floor of the house. It was through these large air ducts that the heat from the stove rose to warm his three room family home.
Seeing him perched on a log stump at the far side of the furnace, he had the door to the furnace open, and was using a long pry bar to stir the hot coals. When he finished stoking the fire, he threw a couple of split chunks of wood into the furnace and closed the door. Seeing me, he turned his face toward me and with a twinkle in his eyes said, "Son, out west when a couple of us boys would meet up or take a spell from riding, we'd say, 'pull up a Sagebrush and let's talk.' "
Substituing a log stump for the Montana Sagebrush, I sat down, and we talked.
It is in his, my father's, honor and memory that I've titled this blog, "Pull Up A Sagebrusth."