Where am I going with this?

Riding in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by author

Dr. Josie Tate, a veterinarian in a small town in southwest Colorado, leaves a tumultuous relationship behind. While recovering from a catastrophic horse-riding accident, Josie searches for her missing horse, testifies in a court case against a menacing animal abuser, and contemplates her dream of owning a sanctuary for wild horses. She befriends Charlie Whitten, a Parks and Wildlife agent whose winter survey of lynx dens high in the San Juan Mountains leads him to the rescue of an avalanche victim and a clue into the loss of Josie’s horse.

I am looking for readers who will comment, constructively criticize…

Colorado Tears, the sequel to Colorado Blood

Man sighting camera
Man sighting camera
Photo by Kim Becker on Unsplash

The Archuleta County emergency SUV slid to a stop where a guy wearing loose jeans held up by a curling cowboy belt and a flannel shirt waved from the side of the turnout at the Willow Draw trailhead. A huge black and gray dog sat woodenly at his side, ears up but tips down. Molly Barron jumped from the SUV cab, tripped on the dried ruts in the turnout, flailed back upright, and raised her eyebrows in question at the stranger.

“Did you call us? Where is she?” Molly registered the slender young man with the dark brown hair pulled…

The loss of life gave focus to mine

Black lab puppy with sad expression
Black lab puppy with sad expression
Photo by Andreas Vendelbo on Unsplash

Eight years old, standing in the driveway. Holding on to my mother's Sunday skirt. Watching blood drip onto her arm from the still black puppy in her arms. Across the street, my dad knocked on the veterinarian’s door. The door opened, and I could hear the laughter of children.

My Dad returned to us.
No. It is his daughter's birthday. We will have to try in town.

The pup sighed and died. He was a foundling, but he was a life in need. I cried. Tears of loss, frustration, helplessness. 1956.

Eighteen years old, standing alone in the office of…

Chapter One: Collision in Willow Draw

Two emergency responders lifting stretcher into rescue vehicle
Two emergency responders lifting stretcher into rescue vehicle
Emergency Responders by Pagosa Springs EMS

The middle finger of Josie’s left hand twitched and pulled a furrow in the dirt. Tiny tan puffs curled away, mini dust devils that collapsed and settled back to earth. Moments later Josie’s left eye cracked open but only a tawny, powdery dirt hillside with hunks of broken sandstone and bare oak brush branches came into a hazy view. Her favorite baseball cap lay inverted and folded up against a rock. Like a high centered turtle. CSU. Equine Science, in green. Out of reach. Fading. Dusk, maybe? Josie tried to sit up but she felt like she was back on…

Fingers typing on keyboard
Fingers typing on keyboard
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

And why I am beginning again

Number five. Snow. At 8000 feet in the curve of the continental divide, I am watching it snow once again, flakes floating downward at first, then blowing sideways as the drifts mount. We have nine inches of hard, icy base, and as much as two feet of powder on top of that. Plow, shovel, walk-behind snowblower powder. A few days of above freezing temps under sapphire skies. Repeat. Is it any wonder I keep putting on the snowshoes? Just ask the dogs.

Number four. Grandkids. “Grandma, is chapter five of Zippy done yet?” Last year I started a personalized little…

Open base on infield dirt of a baseball field
Open base on infield dirt of a baseball field
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

How youthful rebellion and pandemic isolation relate

I don’t remember what they were talking about and I probably didn’t understand my parents’ conversation anyway, but I remember what I said:

“Well, that’s crap.”

Tires screeched on the pavement and the car swerved to the curb. No seatbelts back then, so I hit the door on my side, behind my father.

My mom and dad both turned around to glare at me.

“Young lady, don’t you ever say that word again. I will not have a daughter of mine talking filth. Is that understood?” My mom was in charge of family discipline. My brother probably sat there smirking…

Closeup of turkey vulture
Closeup of turkey vulture
Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

Why you shouldn’t judge a bird by his beak

During our five-year span living northeast of Ft. Collins, Colorado, we had frequent encounters with birds: from the iridescent pheasants bobbing and strutting across our driveway, wide-eyed barn owls nesting in pockmarks along the irrigation canal banks, white pelicans fishing in Cobb Lake. Meadowlarks serenaded sunrise from a post behind the horse barn, like heralds of the morning. Eagles foraged near the warm water inlet into the Fossil Creek Reservoir, and Redtails, Swainson’s and Cooper’s hawks soared over the open pastures, emitting eerie high-pitched shrieks.

Before their separation from Colorado State University, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Center maintained their Educational…

I want to be remembered

Little boy playing in a pile of leaves
Little boy playing in a pile of leaves
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

In 2018, The Association for Psychological Science research indicated that people’s earliest memories date from around three to three and a half years of age.

Now, as I reach the winter of my life, where time is shortened and unpredictable, my need, my spark, is to open avenues of interest in nature, adventure, make-believe, and magic for my grandsons, who are four and seven years old.

Time’s a-wasting.

In 2020, this year of Pandemic isolation, we quarantined and Covid-tested so that we could spend time with family.

We camped and fished with our son, his wife, and our grandsons. We…

Was it my fault that he died?

Ultrasound picture of fetus with owl mask
Ultrasound picture of fetus with owl mask
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

I almost said that he never lived. But he did. It’s all in your definition.

He was the most vigorous of the boys, a staccato beat on my belly drum, a bat out of hell instead of a butterfly. Technically, a fetus on the knife’s edge of viability, insistent on attention, disruptive of sleep, of work.

Work that killed him. My work. Standing there by the horse stocks, working with a young, unhandled, nervous filly shifting side to side, crashing side to side, testing the resolve of the two-inch pipes that restrained her so that we could suture her wound…

Surgeons at work with bloody gloves and suction
Surgeons at work with bloody gloves and suction
Photo by Olga Kononenko on Unsplash

Surgery —” A chance to cut is a chance to cure”

I was eighteen when I blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee for the first time, thanks to a bucking horse. Eight years later, in vet school, another horse flipped in to me and finished the job. I was thirty-seven when my younger son used my other knee as a bumper guard skiing down the baby slope.

At sixty-eight, having my femur and tibia ends sawed off and knee replaced with titanium and plastic seemed like science fiction meets the ax murderer. What if it failed? …

Patty Latham

Veterinarian CSU 1975. Mom. Rider of mustangs. Author of Napa Valley Vets, novel Colorado Blood, and over 20 case reports and features for EQUUS and on line..

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