This past weekend I attended the Columbia River Cowboy Gathering in Kennewick, WA.
I sat in front of my closet, trying to decide which book signing cowgirl boots to pack. Turquoise Cheyenne Daisy or pink, purple, green and blue floral. I knew I would be standing most of the day, tapping my feet to the music and chose my Cheyenne Daisys. This event was to be two days plus cowboy church on Sunday. Set up. Tear down. Comfort had to prevail.
This was the first time attending this gathering and my nerves fluttered with excitement. This would also be Spupaleena’s debut. She is my main character in the Heart Trilogy. A gift from a local artisan with the heart as big as the moon.
I packed my trunks and boots Wednesday night and headed out early Thursday morning. It would take an additional hour of drive time as our ferry was down for annual spring break maintenance. I certainly was not going to swim the Columbia River. North, south, west, it didn’t matter which direction I took, the extra time would be the same.
Off I went, with the local country station blaring. A smile graced my face. Sunglasses on. I felt good, especially with the sun shining in my face. Winter behind us, spring sizzled in the air.
I arrived and set up, being one of the first, and was off to see family. The next morning, my fingers tapped the steering wheel, knowing I was in for a treat. I only knew of one performer, but this gathering had a reputation that rolled along the hills and sang to the multitudes. I was about to meet a new friend who came to share my vendor booth at the last minute. A poet, I would learn, with incredible talent. A sister in the craft.
Shanna Hatfield, another sister and fellow writer, was scheduled to sign as well. My stomach fluttered as rapidly as a hummingbird’s wings as I crossed the tri-city freeways to the Benton County Fairgrounds. It had been seven months and two stated since the last time I saw her. Working together on the up and coming Women Writing the West Conference in Redmond, OR together is find and dandy, but to actually visit in person would be a thrill.
That morning I arrived and met my vendor neighbors. I tidied up my space, put my photography on their stands and straightened Spupaleena’s braids. My toes tapped to the music already playing. I felt like I was home. Then I see a smiling face, searching eyes. They find mine and I see my new writer sister. We’d never met before, but knew we were kindred spirits. And what a great weekend we had. Shaking hands, taking photo’s, signing books and cd’s. It was such a pleasure to see A.K. Moss read her poetry and let the words come alive as she spoke them.
We would tag team, running of to the other building to hear the music and poetry and visit with Shanna. A.K. Mos was able to share her cowboy poetry in both barns and wow her audience. What a treat.
You see, it’s not just the music. It’s not just the poetry, fancy hats or boots clicking the concrete. It’s not the books or photo’s sold that is the most important, although it has an advantage. But it’s the friendships that are born at events like these that keep me going year after year. It is not only an honor to rub elbow with the likes of good folks like these, but a true blessing.