Last week I had the good fortune to once again attend the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. As usual, a good time was had by all. How could you go wrong reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and sitting through hours (and hours and hours) of the best cowboy poetry and music the world has to offer?
This year brought an unexpected and unusual treat.
Fans of the “Pickles” comic strip know that on a few occasions, the curmudgeonly Earl Pickles has dipped his toes into the waters of cowboy poetry. As it happens, Brian Crane, the author and artist behind “Pickles,” is an old and dear friend and coworker and business partner. For some 40 years we have been close friends, if usually distant neighbors. When Earl was infected with poesy, I had the opportunity to work with Brian on some of his character’s poetic efforts.
Brian came to his first Gathering with, of course, Earl in his pocket, to breathe the rarified air at cowboy poetry’s heights. Not only was it good to see and spend time with Brian again, I got a big kick introducing him to friends and enjoying their shock and surprise then smiles when I told them what he did to earn his daily bread, as so many of them are “Pickles” fans. (It often embarrassed Brian and he wished I wouldn’t brag on him, but he well knows I am not to be trusted.)
I will be surprised if Earl’s poetic proclivities weren’t inspired by his time in Elko, and expect the funny papers will be seeing more of his versifying in the future.