To say that yesterday was filled with sensory, emotional and nostalgic overload would be an understatement.
The ingredients to this most memorable day included a neighbor's bull sale, a whole lot of folks who have meant a lot to me over the years, a wonderful visit with a former student, dinner with family, old friend sightings, talk of the ZAGS with my ZAG buddy Connie and then the ultimate of "Seabiscuit" moments as the grand finale.
Let's start with the bull sale. Years ago, when we raised horned Herefords, my dad would usually consign them to the local bull sale at the Sandpoint Livestock Auction Yards on Kootenai Cutoff Road.
We'd clean 'em up and then haul them over to the sale yard in February. Mac McClean of Washington Water Power sometimes cried the auction, and the Cow Belles would always be on hand to serve up a great lunch.
Folks would gather in the stands, and bulls would go on sale. Buyers would load them up and take them home. Prices were not that great but usually adequate.
In one case, our bull-sale experience went awry.
That was when my cow Millie's son Billy went on a rampage and escaped from the sale yard. That had happened after Billy had already put me up against the boards in one of our box stalls when we were trying to groom and tame him for the sale.
Well, let's just say Billy didn't sell that day cuz he was probably somewhere over in Kootenai on the run. I think they rounded him up a few days later and he ended up selling by the pound.
I'd hate to have had a Billy steak!
Long story short, those are some of my basic memories of local bull sales.
So, yesterday when I made the trip two whole miles to our west to the Leonard and Naomi Wood's and family's V BAR X ranch aka Cap Davis's old dairy, I was amazed and downright blown away about how the beef cattle industry has changed since our "good ol' days" with Herefords.
It's scientific, it's analytical, it's high tech with an auction that's addressing folks in the stands and folks on the Internet.
Bulls don't have to go on the rampage, like Billy. They can just stay in a pen, someone can film them and then they show up on two big screen TV's with all their personal data.
A few things at bull sales have not changed. The main and most important ingredient beside the high quality bulls can be found on tables set up in the barn with coffee, baked goods and a hearty lunch, all orchestrated and prepared by Naomi Wood and her crew.
When I went in the morning to scope out what was gonna happen, I met a very nice gentleman from Kansas. Gary Fike had come as field representative of the American Red Angus Assoc.
We became instant friends, talking colleges and basketball and kids. Gary's KSU basketball team, victorious in its first round of the Big Dance will be taking on an epic opponent today in the NCAA tournament. You'll see their photo below----the epic team, that is.
As I walked out, the concession crew talked me in to taking a couple of mini maple bars with me and reminded me to come back.
So, in payment for those mouth watering (10 seconds in the microwave), I did return just as lunch was winding down and the sale was about to start.
I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, and I'm betting that anyone with an ounce of rural blood in their body would have loved being there.
In fact, that rural bond dominated many conversations during my visit. One in particular touched me beyond as a teacher.
Amy Sawyer Peterson enrolled in my graphic arts when she was a student at Sandpoint High.
As an aside, her Grandma Val Sawyer taught my son Willie in fourth grade---Willie now teaches graphic arts at Sandpoint High).
Well, since high school, Amy has raised a lovely family and has embarked on her passion: rural and ranch photography. Amy and I both strolled through the crowd capturing our respective shots for our respective purposes.
Can't really express how proud I am to have seen the sale catalog, which Amy designed and how thrilled I am to have visited with this kindred soul who appreciates her roots and has found a way to showcase them in magnificent photos.
Yay, Amy. I am proud of you!
Both Leonard and Naomi are also former students and close family friends. To see what they have accomplished as parents of four talented and creative children and especially to see the quality program they have built as a local cattle operation----nothing less than priceless.
I saw other former students and visited with a host of longtime friends. Even met a lady who went to school with my sister Laurie and remembered drawing horses for Laurie in grade school.
Laurie, do ya recognize her in any of the photos.
Eventually, I had to leave. Prior to my departure, Amy and I had talked about how photographers have to become noninvasive fixtures within any crowd to get the really classic photos.
Well, I'm gonna tell you a story about this photographer who kept her camera bundled up as she witnessed what would have been the BEST CANDID PHOTO EVER.
As I walked toward the door of that sale barn with all its historical flavor, I saw a little boy (maybe 3 years old) in front of a metal silo.
As I stepped closer, the little guy, unaware of anyone's presence pulled down his pants to his knees and let the fountain flow.
My mouth was literally hanging open as I watched his "natural" style. Then, I saw his dad, who was standing a few feet away, catch sight of what the little man was doing.
Dad's mouth came open too. At that moment, I said to the dad, "You have no idea how much I'd love to take that picture, but-----."
All in all, the two hours spent interacting with friends, students and sometimes perfect strangers was, in my mind, a blessed event.
Thanks, Leonard and Naomi and all who coordinated such an event, which, no doubt, was financially successful but more important one that reminds us that hard work, vision, passion and the love for what you're doing makes all the difference.
I was an extremely proud neighbor, teacher and friend yesterday.
And, of course, on this Saturday, March 17, 2018 . . . . .
I cannot take credit for the "Seabiscuit" analogy in reference to the photo above.
My sister texted that comparison to me as we and folks all across this nation watched an epic underdog story for the ages unfold in the NCAA tournament.
We had just returned from dinner. While still at the restaurant, Barbara noted that after several minutes, the score to the Virginia-UBMC game was 3-2.
We talked briefly about Virginia's famous defensive strategy.
Well, it appears that strategy met its match last night when the Retrievers of UMBC (where the heck is that? It's in Baltimore) had sniffed out a successful offensive strategy for turning the Cavaliers's defensive approach upside down.
"The little team that could" turned on their energizer bunny engines and went into overdrive to work on Virginia.
Here a shot, there a shot, every single time a shot!
And, Virginia was shell-shocked for the rest of the game.
We saw history last night. We saw another version of Seabiscuit, the little horse that supposedly could not win the big races BUT did.
And as the classic book by Laura Hillenbrand noted, Seabiscuit came along at a time when a rather downtrodden America needed a hero.
I definitely see a parallel.
America needed University of Maryland Baltimore County!
They answered the call last night.
Hooray for the underdogs who occasionally remind us that it's about heart and about reaching for the stars.
The retrievers sniffed and reached, and now they ARE the stars!
Not to be forgotten. We NEVER forget the ZAGS and on this St. Paddy's Day, may they have the luck of the Irish as they take on Ohio State this afternoon at 4:45 PDT on CBS.
Just in case they don't get enough of the luck of the Irish, you can bet I'll have my Vatican rosary.
Happy Saturday. Happy St. Patrick's Day, and GO, ZAGS!