The Night Pete Lassoed the Moon


That night's round up was just like any other, until it wasn't.

The first blush of sunset colored the sky's cheeks and several rows of purple clouds lined its brow. A warm breeze rustled the sage brush and live oak. All day, the cattle had clustered around a grove of cedar trees, clinging to what shade they could find. Now that the sun was starting to dip, they ventured out, one by one, for fresh grass.

And that was when Pete and Sam swept in.

On horseback and with three hound dogs running through the grass, the two cow hands circled in on the herd. Darkness was drawing close and the cattle couldn't stay on the hill, where coyotes prowled at night.

The had just gotten the cattle rounded into formation — with the dogs taking care of the fringes — when Pete called out, "Sam, look at how big the moon is tonight. I reckon it's the biggest I've ever seen it before."

Sam nodded in agreement. Sam never had much to say on account of him having no tongue, but he found other ways to illustrate what was on his mind.

Pete squinted and held up his thumb as a measurement. "You know what? I'm going to lasso that moon tonight?"

Sam raised his eyebrows.

"I know. I know," Pete said. "But just look at that strawberry moon. It's just asking to be lassoed."

Sam sighed. He pulled his harmonica out of his breast pocket and put it to his lips. The moment he started playing, pictures filled the air in front of him, wispy like ghosts, light as the wind. The picture of a man with his arms up and a crowd around him, cheering, appeared. The pictures twanged slightly, like the notes vibrating from the harmonica.

Pete nodded. "I know. If I did it, I'd be the best known cowboy around these parts."

Sam put the harmonica to his lips again. This time, a picture of a man holding the moon appeared. The man looked around, then scratched his head.

Pete laughed. "Who cares what I do with it? The point is that I'll have lassoed it." He watched the dogs round up some of the straggling cows. "Maybe I'll change the tides, make it so that I can fish anytime I want. Or maybe I'll change up the months. August is always too long, but I could do with some more of that fresh April breeze."

Sam laughed.

"Alright," Pete said. "I'm going to do it."

He rode up to the top of the biggest hill around and pulled out the longest rope he could find. The sky above had fast gotten dark and though a deep blue still clung to the horizon, the moon was high and bright as the sun. Pete waited while a line of clouds moved in front of the moon.

Then, when all was clear, he swung that lasso over his head several times and flung it out toward space.

Well, that lasso went on so quick and easy that at first Pete didn't realize he'd even done it. Then, the moon started bucking.

"Oh, no you don't," Pete said. He kicked his heals into his steed and the horse dug in its hooves and together, they both heaved on the moon.

That moon pulled so hard that Pete was flung clear off his horse, but he scrambled back to his feet and sunk his boots into the ground as hard as he could.

The moon pulled him clear across the field, straight over a fence and all the way to the edge of the ranch. Sam galloped behind as fast as he could on horseback, following the lines in the dirt of Pete's two heals.

Eventually, he found Pete laying in the middle of a pasture, looking rather stunned. He held the rope between two hands, but it was attached to nothing on the other end.

Sam raised his eyebrows inquisitively.

"That moon up and disappeared," Pete said. "It just cycled through its phases so quick, it became a new moon and vanished."

Pete was annoyed at this then, but that didn't stop him from telling the story at every bonfire of the time he lassoed the moon.

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