Friday, April 23, 2010

I feel this tonight

I could feel it before we got the weather warning...

Stampede on the Cimarron

By J. Frank Dobie
... The cattle and the night were so quiet that the two herders stopped now and again on their rounds to listen. They could not help expecting something. The air grew warmer and more stifling, as the lightning flashes approached and dim thunder began to rumble up. The men could still skylight the cattle.
Presently a dun steer that had been in the lead of the herd from the beginning and had been named Old Buck awoke, lifted his head slowly, rose to his knees, and looked around.
Apparently he did not trust the looks of things, but, being long experienced in life, wasn't startled, and he said nothing.
He got to his feet, raising his nose to smell, and gazed towards the approaching storm. The two men on guard sand as gently as they could th songs they had sung over and over to sooth the cattle down and prevent any sudden sound from breaking in and frightening them.

But Old Buck had no idea of going back to bed. He seemed to be expecting something--something as sudden as a telegram used to be. Another steer got up, stood still, expectant; then others and others until the whole herd was on it's feet, motionless. The songs grew louder now, unrelenting, pleading.

The night grew blacker, the lightning brighter, the humidity of the air heavier. And then, almost at once, on every tip of the five thousand horns of the waiting steers, appeared a ball of dull phosphorescent light-- the foxfire, St, Elmo's fire, will-o-the-wisp of the folklore of the world. In the intervals of utter blackness the two guards on the lone prairie could see nothing but those eerie balls pulsing on the tips of long curved horns. But the guards were not thinking of ghosts or remembering ghost stories now. Their voices rose high in the wild but cow-quieting notes of "The Texas Lullaby", which is not made of words and cannot be conveyed by musical notation. It is made of syllables and tones conveyable only by voices trained in darkness and deep thickets. The notes cime long, low and trenbly. The wailers of "The Texas Lullaby" did not yell or shoot; as men who savvied the cow, they would not scare the as yet still cattle.
The ghostly balls of fire on horns must have looked as strange to the steers as to the men. The steers began to move at a walk, their motion becoming circular, the riders around them preventing any decided movement away from the bed ground. At first the walk was slow; soon it became faster. And then out of blackness came a great flash of zigzag lightning forking down over the seething mass of animals, so close that darting tongues of flame seemed almost to lick their backs. At the same time a mighty clap of thunder shook heaven and earth, reverberating and doubling.

It's answer was the thunder of ten thousand pounding hooves that popped ans clicked, while horn clacked against horn. The stampede started with the swiftness of the lightning's leap.

All hands in camp had mounted at the first salvo from the skies; they reached the herd in time to join the pursuit. The gigantic thunderbolt had knocked out the sluice gates of the sky. The water poured down in sheets and barrels. It rained blue snakes, pitchforks and bobtailed heifer yearlings all at once. One minute it was darker than the dead end of a crooked tunnel a mile deep under a mountain. Then the prairie was a sea of blue and yellow light dazzling to all eyes.

That's the kind of storm I'm expecting tonight.

BTW...want me to finish that chapter?


0105 HOURS- marble sized hail is *REALLY* loud on a metal roof. It scares dogs, too.

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