The lone pine |

The lone pine

On the Edge of Common Sense
Baxter Black, DVM

“So, how’d yer dad git that big dent on the door?” I asked Dave. Truth is, it was quite an accomplishment for one single dent to stand out from all the other wear and tear, deterioration and assorted damage that covered his 1983 Ford Ranger diesel pickup truck like elephant tracks on a styrofoam cooler.

“It’s a long story,” sighed Dave.

Dave went with his mom and dad to gather the last of the cows off their forest permit above Feather Falls in the Sierra Madres of southern California. Dad drove the old stock truck with racks made outta airport landing and pulled a portable Powder River loading chute with panels. Dave followed in the Ranger. It took’em a while but they finally loaded 16 head of cows and calves. Then dad spotted one ol’ cow that had held back. She’d calved recently but the calf was nowhere in sight. They had spotted lion tracks in the vicinity. They searched till mom, the family tracker, found the little calf under a bush.

They could feel the storm comin’ and were relieved to get the last cow squeezed onto the load. They packed the loading chute and started down the mountain. Dave followed in the Ranger with the new calf in the cab beside him. Bear, the faithful cow dog, rode in the back. Next thing he knew Dad waved him to a stop. There was a cow down in the stock truck. Dave pulled ahead, stopped on the steep mountain road and went back to help.


After several minutes of struggling with the down cow Dave climbed up to say they’d need to let some of the other cows out to give her some room. It was then he noticed the Ranger, complete with dog and calf, had disappeared! Dad was hot to catch his favorite truck when Dave pointed out that wherever it was goin’, it was already there. The down cow could use some help right away.

They set up the portable chute, unloaded four cows, righted the down cow and Dave took off to find the Ranger. He met Bear comin’ back up the road at a full gallop, tail between his legs. Around the first bend Dave could see the tip of the pickup over the side of a canyon. It had leaped off the edge and slid sideways into a lone pine. The next stop would have been 200 feet at the bottom. The calf was standin’ in the seat lookin’ out the back window.

Well, everybody survived although the dog won’t git back in the pickup and Dave continues to insist he left it in gear. And dad… dad still takes the hammer to the side panel now and then in an attempt to make the pine tree impression blend in with the other dents.

It’s useless, though, like tryin’ to make a mastodon blend in with a flotilla of Mallard ducks. ❖