Jones: The rancher’s worry box |

Jones: The rancher’s worry box

Loy Jones
Loy Jones

I remember the little purple converse shoes I so proudly carried out of Payless shoe store two weeks before starting first grade in a new town. You would have thought I was bringing home a golden nugget with how absolutely proud I was of that box I toted through the front door of the house. That box was full of proud joy, hope and the promise of finally being in “real school” like my three older siblings.

The next box I remember was the box that buried a man who was basically a town idol and would always sneak me a candy at the old men’s community coffee table at the gas station where I sat occasionally with my dad, listening to stretched hunting stories and advice on anything from how to grow a squash plant to how to know if winter was going to be bad because of some moss on a tree. It was the first big funeral I had attended of an age to remember and I could hardly grasp that the man with wonderful lines in his face and cigarette in hand… wasn’t going to be there anymore. The box was full of new realizations, sadness and its door closed heavy for me.

I remember the boxes that moved each sibling out of the house. I remember the boxes that took us off the old ranch to a rental for a while, before unloading onto a new ranch. I remember the many, many boxes (mostly of shoes really) that moved me out of the house the day after high school graduation. They were overflowing but were filled with that same proud joy, hope and the promise of finally being an adult in the “real world” like my three older siblings, so there weight seemed feather-like.

The heaviest box I’ve ever tried to help carry though was the smallest of them all. It’s one that you can’t even see or would totally miss if you weren’t carrying one of your own. I call it the rancher’s worry box. It’s heavy, its door clamps shut on you after adding to it, rarely does it get cleaned out in the spring and it almost never, ever leaves the shoulders of the rancher. He’s accumulated the worries of each generation thus far. The box holds grandpa’s worries over horse’s hooves and weaning weights. It holds the worry of plague and the worry of drought. It holds the worries of equipment lasting forever or the winter running long. It holds the worry of higher tax and the wonder of who will carry it on. In recent days one of the heavier worries it picked up is if they will even be able to carry on in this way of life. He worries if all his hard work and the work of generations before him were in vain if he can’t even pass on the family ranch to his son or daughter because of a political decision about his way of life. It’s a tiny little box, yet as heavy as it may be… the rancher goes on willingly shouldering it for the sake of the world over — which means he carries it for you and me.

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