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The Rancher and the Cottonwood Tree


Suddenly on that 80-mile drive home, I had company. His name was Luther.

It was summer in New Mexico and the time of the monsoon. I was returning to Santa Fe after spending several days alone out at sister Kate’s country place baby-sitting her cats while she traveled. I had experienced some stormy weather–spectacular cloud formations, thunder and lightning, and heavy rain. After the dry times and with the greening of the landscape, a new perspective and new possibilities seem to germinate.

Kate’s Place

That came to pass when the character named Luther imaginatively joined me on the drive home. I immediately knew that he was a cattle rancher on land near the little town of Estancia, and something important had happened there during the monsoon season. As I drove onto my own property, I also knew I would write Luther’s story. It wasn’t like I was going to make it up; day by day, I was going to record what I was shown.

That was 10 years ago, and the experience left me with a new perspective on the masculine that I referred to in my previous blog on patriarchy. I have made a few revisions during the ensuing, very busy years but never made a concerted effort to get Luther’s story published. I shared it with family, and even though my brother, the horseman, sportsman, and veterinarian, really liked it–a wonderful validation–I didn’t know what to do with it, until now.

I suddenly realized that Luther’s life related to my previous blog and also to the Memorial Day events all over the country. Everything is about timing, and the moment had finally come to share the story of  “The Cottonwood Tree,” which changed both our lives. I hope you will like it.




7 Responses to “The Rancher and the Cottonwood Tree”

  1. Liz

    Well done, Ellen! Luther walked off the “page” so I’m not surprised that he joined you on your drive home to Santa Fe. Good job.

  2. Ty Webb

    Ellen – what a joy to read. I have no problem picturing the landscape nor Luther. Beautifully written. Thank you!

  3. Lynn Peyer

    Great writing! I could visualize everything in the story, including Luther. Hoping to hear more about him in the future.

    • Jan Harris

      It always makes me happy to find you in my mailbox. Your blogs tend to be calming and cause me to be a bit more introspective. This is definitely one of my favorites. Had to look up estrus!

  4. Jessica Carpenter

    Ellen, I think this is one of the best things you have ever written. I’ll have to admit that I want to hear more about Luther.

    • Maggie

      To steal a fellow Texan’s words “Alright! Alright! Alright!” Thanks you for sharing this beautiful story with us and introducing Luther. What a moving, descriptive and superbly written piece. I too would love to read more about Luther and/or your experiences and insights about your beautiful state.