Growing up in Southeastern Colorado gave me a cunning grip on the reality that the wind does blow. Rivers of Wind, written by Gary Penley revealed the paths of the wind. Escaping the wind was not an option. You survived it. You learned to thrive through it. Or you defied it. There was no escape.
From stories of growing up on the prairie, to lanterns about shipboard adventures, Gary Penley writes with an authority he learned well from the man who raised him. He called him Dad.
George Blizzard was the fiercely determined man who conjured up a life on the prairie against the odds. He fought through the horrors of living on a land where strength and self-preservation were required, unappreciated, and often mistaken as bravado.
A stout man in his youth, Blizzard didn’t cotton to bullies and he eliminated a bully in my hometown. The cost ran cold in the dirt streets of cowtown, but rumors spread like wildfire. In the country, men heard of Blizzard, repeated his name, and honored he man who had taken the bully down. Near half a century later, his name was still honored in our home.
A lifetime after that battle, my mother called one morning. “Jan, there’s a book signing in town. It’s Gary Penley, he wrote a book about growing up here, and George Blizzard. I want to go. Will you go with me?” I could hear the thrill in her voice. I couldn’t NOT attend this book signing, or reading. I had no clue who Gary Penley was, but I knew about George Blizzard.
I attended the book signing with my mother, and a good round number of the citizens of our fair community, including several of my favorite teachers. It seemed I was one of few who didn’t know Gary Penley. Although, I’m certain I’d heard his name before, and I did know he’d graduated from Lamar High School, I wasn’t familiar with him.
By the end of the evening, I’d been told many times, “You should look him up and get to know him. You’re a writer too, this would be an amazing connection for you.”
I took them all seriously, I met him that night. I introduced myself, and we’ve become friends through the years. Our worldviews are similar, and the connection we have as writers carries us places we might never have gone without it. But the one connection neither of us can break is the river of wind running through our heritage.
In the quiet hours of morning, or the stillness of dusk, I feel the chill. The river runs deep.
Visit Gary’s page on Amazon, buy his books. You’ll meet the kind of man that George Blizzard raised… A good one.
Always, I appreciate the friendship Gary Penley and I have built through the years. God bless you, my friend.