BY J. H. SOEDER
Copyright is held by the author.
WE’D BEEN tracking him for several months now. The White Ghost.
He wasn’t easy to find; we had been scouring the hillsides and plains trying to get a glimpse of him. Not with the purpose of capturing him and putting him on a wild mustang horse ranch, but catching on film this elusive and majestic creature with my camera lens.
Several continuous, sweaty days of tracking, trudging with our horses through dense thickets infested with ticks and burrs yielded no results. Had I not Old Joe along, I might not of even had a chance of getting this close. Joe had been tracking him, using his old Indian ways. However every time we seemed to get near the White Ghost, true to his name, he disappeared into the early morning mist.
We had camped that night on a slight ridge overlooking a valley filled with fresh, wild lavender. The trail we had been following for days stopped here, said Joe. He got off his pinto, pulled out some feathers and his handmade pipe from his saddlebag and walked over to the stone ledge overlooking the beautiful valley. There he spoke his native tongue, puffed his pipe, spreading it to the wind while gently wafting the feathers in the air around him. He said that his actions were meant to appease the Spirit of the valley — to say that we were not there to harm his child, but only to capture a glimpse of him.
The morning was early for me. Joe was already up and making some coffee over the small fire. I was not really thirsty and felt instead that I wanted to walk down the deer path into the valley with my camera. I figured it was better than taking a large horse down there. Walking down the narrow path I said in my mind repeatedly, “I will not harm you, my friend,” while filling my heart with peace as Joe had instructed.
Emerging from the brush that tore at my clothes I became aware that something — or someone — was watching me. I turned and saw him — a beautiful, powerfully muscled and free animal that I perceived was wise to the ways of man. He seemed a creature peaceful within himself, as he pulled another strand of lavender into his greyed muzzle.
He looked at me and continued to chew on his treat. I quickly pulled up my camera and snapped only two pictures before I was startled by the call of a mockingbird directly behind me. Momentarily I turned to see the bird; when I turned back — true to his name — he was gone.