So it seems I found a bell in a tree, and the people on the County Island seem to think that’s somethin special.
Now, in my experience, which is considerable, bells are what’s hung on the little ranch critters that have a way of goin missin, not on trees. So if a cowboy loses track of, let’s say, one of the lambs, if that lamb’s got a bell hung around its neck, the cowboy can listen for the bell when he’s out searchin for it on his horse, and when they hear it, they know they’ve done found the lamb. And if all you find is a bell, well, there’s still a missin critter that’s got to be found, because a bell needs a critter, and a critter needs a bell.
But what we found, my gal and me, was indeed a bell up in a palo verde tree, hangin from a branch right about at her eye level from up there the saddle, one afternoon as we was out ridin through our usual wash on a trail ride. Me, I woulda walked right on past it without so much as a “huh, that ain’t right,” figurin, well, it ain’t my bell and we got no small critters, so obviously, it ain’t my business.
But there was a note attached to the bell, and I guess the writin on it caught my gal’s eye, so she sidepassed me up close to it so she could read it aloud to me, as she often will do, while she sat up there in the saddle: “You have found a… Ben’s Bell,” she slowly read, like she was chewin on somethin. “Take it home, hang it in your yard, and remember to spread kindness throughout our world.”
Now, I took this literal — to mean some little critter or maybe someone named Ben had lost his bell. I started wonderin if maybe we should head out lookin for him, even though the day was gettin on and the sky was about to turn dark, to return his bell, ‘cause it sounded like this here bell might be kinda meaningful. After all, if you find somethin that ain’t yours, the proper thing to do is try to find its rightful owner. Unless, of course, the thing you find is somethin good to eat, and it’s delicious. Then it’s all yours. But the note did say we should take the bell home, which somehow still didn’t feel right to take such a purty and unlikely thing from a tree, but we did.
My gal very carefully folded the bell up to make it be a smaller parcel, and she put it in her pocket for our ride back home.
All the way home, I kept thinkin how, on the one hoof, we really ought to go round up some of the neighbors’ horses to form us a posse and head out ridin to look for Ben and return his bell. We had an important job to do, finally! But on the other hoof, I was just as glad to get home to my own hay.
From what I came to understand a short time later, lots and lots of these such bells was already bein hung by lots and lots of posses, on purpose, and not just on the County Island but all over everywhere, far and wide, and furthermore, not just in unlikely places like palo verde trees in washes but in all the unlikely places that the people got where nobody would ever reckon to look for a bell.
And, from what I gather, one of the places where the County Island people get their news from has also been talkin all about the Ben’s Bells that’s been turnin up.
It’s all bein done to remind the people to be kind to each other. And horses, too, I suppose.
I suppose now I got to remember to be nicer to Coors and Coors Light from now on, don’t I? And I think I owe a couple apologies to our gal and guy while I’m at it, for somethin or other over the years, and maybe some apologies in advance, just because. They all been kind to me, so I got to be kind to them even if I’m in the middle of my teasin of ’em all. An honest ranch horse has got to own up when he done wrong, even when he don’t mean any wrong by it.
Maybe this here “bein kind” could be the creed of the County Island, ‘cause I don’t think the County Island’s got a creed already, not the way cowboys and ranch horses got creeds like the “cowboy way” and the “code of the west.”
I kinda like that.