Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sharing Simply.....

Robin shared this story over at her blog, and I felt the urge to post it here, as well. Awesome, and the sharing and giving to Donna Byrne the along the way is what struck me most.

Jobless Woman Headed For Texas On Horseback
by Brian Reed

On roads teeming with motorcycles, pickup trucks and 18-wheelers, it isn't too hard to spot a woman on horseback.
So Donna Byrne is attracting a lot of attention. After she lost her job as a ranch hand in Arcadia, Fla., the 44-year-old couldn't afford her rent, so she decided to ride her horses, Jay and Tonto, to Texas — maybe even Montana — in search of work as a cowgirl.
In the first few weeks of her journey, Byrne has already received a large showing of goodwill. She says every day people stop to ask about her journey and offer a hand.

"She loaded up her horses and all her worldly goods and hit the road," says Daniel Skidmore, who pulled over on U.S. Route 301 in Wildwood, Fla., after reading about Byrne in a local newspaper. "I don't know many women [who] would do that."

At a rest stop up ahead from where Skidmore found her, Byrne ties Jay and Tonto to a handicapped parking sign, and they gulp down five buckets of water. Byrne pats them on the neck, nuzzles them and scolds them when they start drinking too sloppily. She says Tonto has a nice demeanor — that is, until someone tries to ride him.

"Then he wants to buck," she says, which is why she's designated him as her packhorse.
And as for Jay, "She gets one of them temperaments," Byrne says. "She wants to go, go, go, go — you've got to hold her back."

The horse's personality is not unlike her rider's. Byrne was a truck driver for many years, and that road mentality has stuck. She has no family, so when work didn't pan out in Florida, Byrne says, heading west was the best solution she could think of.

"It's been a dream of mine to do this ride," she says. "Lost a house, lost a job. Had to do something quick. I figured right now'd be the best time to do it."

Byrne spent the first few nights of her journey sleeping outside, until two local newspapers picked up her story — The Tampa Tribune and the Bradenton Herald. And that's when people started looking for her. Drive-by benefactors pulled over and donated cash. Some people offered their homes and their stables. A vet gave the horses roadside shots. A farrier gave them a new set of shoes.

In these tough economic times, something about Byrne's old-fashioned earnestness seems to strike a chord with people. In some ways, it's almost as if she rode straight out of a John Steinbeck novel.

"Owning a log cabin house," she says, longingly describing her dream life in Montana. "Having my own piece of property. Doing my own ranching. Mountains all around it."

But of all the people who are helping Byrne, horse lovers seem to be especially galvanized.
"Horse people are kind of a stick-together bunch," says Lisa Pannell. "So you know you kind of help out somebody if you can."

Pannell was at the receiving end of an elaborate phone chain to find lodging for Byrne in Wildwood. She let Jay and Tonto stay in her paddock, while Byrne slept at Sandy LeNoir's house down the road.

"I just think she's trying to hang onto her horses, which is, for a lot of us, that's our sanity," LeNoir says. "And she's hanging onto them and going after her dream. She's got nothing to lose."
Members of a Florida chapter of Cowboys for Christ, a national organization, have started a Web site for Byrne, and they've been making calls on her behalf. They're trying to connect her with people through Florida and even on to Texas. Nobody's really thinking beyond that yet.

That is, nobody except for Byrne. She says the word is that there isn't much more work in Texas than Florida.

"It's tough all the way around. It really is," she says.

And if she finds the Lone Star State lacking in job prospects?

"Just keep on riding," she says.

And that's exactly what she's doing — every day. After the horses slurp their last bit of water, Byrne ties the bucket to Tonto's pack and hoists herself onto Jay. She tips the floppy brim of her cowboy hat, and the three head on down the asphalt trail.


What stands out at me most in this story is the simple sharing that folks are doing. Giving her a bed to sleep in for the night, vaccinations for her horses, the free shoeing job from a farrier, food for the horses...... Folks are coming out of the woodwork, and they're not all sharing a LOT individually, as we're all in a tight position, but each person sharing a LITTLE bit is helping this woman in her journey.

I think that this needs to be a major factor in our lives again. In stories of the Great Depression (the 30's depression, as I don't think we'll be able to call it the "Great Depression" for much longer without getting confused), you hear about hobos riding the rails, and they'd jump off and trudge along looking for a mud-daubed symbol on a fence-post. They found that symbol, and knew they could stop in and ask the lady of the house for a bit to eat. If she had a spare job that needed doing in exchange for food or a night's rest. And they knew that the lady of the house would be the sharing simply type. Not much to go around, but enough for one more mouth, or room for one more head to rest.

Would that we all would be more like this. Yeah, invite the neighbour over for supper occasionally, but how about taking a cup-full of chowder down to the homeless guy sitting on the corner. Making an afghan for a friend's baby? Great. How about using the extra yarn toward a scarf or a hat for the homeless shelter, or even to donate to the local school for those cold winter days and the little boy who doesn't have a hat to wear at recess. Enough yarn, you can even get a scrappy afghan made (or enough fabric scraps, and you can put together a scrappy-quilt) to donate to the homeless shelter. It's not fancy, it's not much. It's sharing simply.

And, even among people you may not know well enough to be friends, and aren't needy enough to be homeless or hobos or beggars, simply sharing a favorite cd with somebody you see regularly, and have noticed they like similar music to yourself. A regular patron in at work the other day mentioned to me a favorite classical musician, and copied the front of his favorite CD by this musician (Debussy) and brought it to me. It's been added to my list of music to look for. It wasn't much, he photocopied the front and remembered to give me the picture. But, it's a simple joy he thought to share with somebody else. It's a simple joy that will probably add a little light to my day, should I ever get my hands on the actual CD. *grin*

I think I'm going to put a note up by my bed where I'll see it every day, just something brief to remind me to share simply throughout the day. Find a little SOMETHING that I can share with somebody else, and DO! If it's a bit of time to help somebody pick up something they've dropped, or a little time toward working on that hat or scarf for the shelter, or buying an extra danish or cup of soup for the homeless guy outside the grocery store, an extra can of chili or milk or some-such for the food-donation box at the grocery (or at the school, or at work), thinking to pass a book on to a friend/coworker/aquaintance whom might enjoy it, and having enough food in the house that I can offer a passing hobo a bite, if one were to stop in looking.

Just some thoughts I had, after experiencing this guy at the library sharing a tidbit on music with me, and especially after reading that news bit that Robin posted about this lady riding her horses cross-country in search of a job. Thanks, Robin, for sharing that with us. I appreciate it!


BTW, I have to get a couple of pics of the afghan I just finished a few days ago. It's for that little premie girl I was telling y'all about. Anyway, the baby-shower is this coming Sunday, so I won't have the afghan on hand much longer. Need to get a pic while I can. *grin*

Have a Blessed Day.


Tori_z said...

Excellent post!

That article is wonderful... It's great to know there are still people who are willing to do things like that for others.

And I completely agree with your points... "Every little bit helps," as they say!

barefoot gardener said...

That's a cool story. I think it would be nice if more folks were willing to help each other out. Something to think about....

MeadowLark said...

Thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes.

We've got a tough road ahead, that's for sure. I can only hope that community will prevail. I'm not so sure :(

Celticspirit said...

Great story. It's also a great reminder to do things for others without expecting anything in return.

I'm looking forward to seeing the picture of the blanket you made.

peppylady said...

Love this story and I heard a lot of wonderful heart felt story from the days past even from the great depression.

Coffee is on.

Robin said...

Hey Girl, I'm so glad that story touched you and that you shared it......

whimsical brainpan said...

That is a great story.

And there is a lot of generosity out there. Having been the recipient of a lot of it I know.

I can't wait to see your afghan!