The value of friendship. A friendship that exists through years of living. It is not twisted into a annual commercial venture. It is silent moments, a phone call after a year of not talking, yet a feeling that time had not passed. It is questioning life, analyzing truth, challenging the meaning of right and wrong. Friendship allows discussion of wounds not fully healed, scars and hurt of life so deep in the heart that can only be seen by creases on the face and stained and calloused hands. Only one who truly knows, will see it in the eyes. It is kind gestures without talking. It is laughter so deep tears fall and laugh muscles hurt.
I sit and look at this gift a friend has given and it brings our friendship though the years to mind. I look at it with blurred vision of memory and emotion.
An old saddle sitting on its saddle tree and I feel a moment of peace and gratitude. Wondering why such a treasure was given to me.
Every scar, every rope burn and the leather that has warn thin with age and time tells the stories. I can look at it and allow the spur rowell to sing and snow soggy days relived. I can imagine the days gone bad that turned experience into knowledge. I will think of the early morning rides, with the sun coming up over the desert floor, where the dew was chilled into frost, while warm breath released by horse and man mingled together into whispers of vapor. Laughter in the still morning air breaks the silence for an instant then swallowed once again by silence of life. Stiff muscles, leather creaking, a sigh of breath and the fall of shod feet.
Here this saddle sits in front of me, aged by time, trials and triumphs. Accepted and cherished with the perfection of scars and repaired leather tethered, stitched and glued together. Letting go of yesterday and looking towards tomorrow.
I reach out and grab the pommel, swing it off the tree and on to the well brushed back of a horse. I shift my blanket, set the saddle, drop my cinch and pull my tug snug around the girth.
My horse sighs, a breath of pride? Maybe…Or the sigh of the hundreds of horses this saddle has felt before. Knowing with buckles tight and the soft creak of old leather, history rides again.
I will forever look upon this gift. Far beyond monetary value. Beyond any new gift from a store. A token of friendship, of hardship, of life, of battles won and laughter that sings and rings into the heart. Of sore aching muscles, of hard desert rides, of days of loneliness and days filled with adventure. I will step on with knowledge, appreciation and try. I will treasure this gift, a memory of our rides together through the years of trials and triumphs.
And as I step off I will stroke my horses neck and say thanks for the ride.