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In the sixties, a trio of young blacks from Detroit descend upon the racially homogenous plains of Eastern Colorado to start a ranch. In their quest, they partner with a drifting hippie and a college reject to form lifelong relationships and serendipitous success.
The eastern plains of Colorado took a back seat to the rest of the state in most categories. Nobody ever went out there for vacation. They headed to Aspen, Vail, or some other nook. When the news networks reported the weather back east, all they usually reported was the snow accumulations in the mountains. They never told the people in Boston about the weather in Greeley. All the weathermen wanted to talk about was the conditions in those mountains. Due to all this negative publicity, Colorado’s weather was one of the best-kept secrets in the country. The lack of humidity made summers cooler and winters warmer. Eastern Colorado winters were a cakewalk compared New York, Chicago or Seattle.
The state flower of Colorado was the columbine. It grew throughout the mountains and foothills. It was the perfect little artisan’s choice fitting right in there with the corduroy wearing, latte sucking, twits who invaded the place. It was a wimp of a flower.
The real flower of the state was the wild sunflower. Now that was one stud of a flower. If you took away its water, it spat in your face. It ate droughts for lunch. If you cut it down, it grew back bigger the next year. They were everywhere on the plains. It was the only flower people feared. They feared not being able to get rid of it. The flowers’ omnipresent polka dotting of ditches consumed nature’s yellow quotient for the area.
The region was east of Fort Collins and northeast of Greeley. The Rocky Mountains bounced along its western horizon. It was funny how one could travel from the east on absolutely flat land all the way from Ohio, then suddenly drive into the side of the Rocky Mountains. Mother Nature forgot to give any warning. She put down a few foothills near Fort Collins and suddenly motorists were staring at the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
The buffalo was supposed to be the high plains dominator, but the little prairie dogs were impressive. They lived out there around the aforementioned sunflowers. People tried to shoot them, poison them, relocate them, or wipe them off the face of the earth. If there was an empty lot on the edge of town, they beat a path to it quicker than an in-style hiker trampled off the trail. They were survivors. When the prairie dog had his territory encroached upon by that hiker, the riled rodent stuck its head out of his hole and barked a litany of prairie dog profanities at the intruder.
Chester and Lester Gleckler spent their early years growing up amongst all those prairie dogs and sunflowers. They were twins, but different as Holsteins and Herefords. Chet was the shy one who took a more analytical view of life, and Les was more kinetic. It was Les who made his rancher father proud by participating in the Mutton Buster events at the local rodeos, and showing more interest than Chet in the daily activities around the ranch.
Actually, the ranch was just a farm, a seventy-eight acre spread of corn, wheat and a dozen steers, but the boys’ father Jake hated calling his place a farm. Just where was it that a farm became a ranch? In Louisiana they didn’t call them ranches, but if you crossed the state line into Texas and called the smallest parcel a farm, Texans would gore you with one of the horns strapped on the hood of their Cadillac. Calling them ranches in Nebraska or Kansas was a stretch. Once you reached Colorado, however, they should have put on the sign at the state line reading: Welcome to Colorful Colorado. It’s OK to call them ranches now.
Patrick McCarthy weaves through Unity Ranch in a semi-autobiographical mix of his small town upbringing, sports experience, military life and spiritual identity that constitutes this adventure.
Growing up with strict Midwestern values, he melds his interracial experience into a symphony of excitement, humor and virtue.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 228
Paper Weight (lb): 9.8
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