I sauntered over to the clerk, an impish young lass by the name of Josephine—Trader Jo, they called her—and placed my wares on the counter. She eyed me coolly. "You know they sell Cowboy Bark," she quipped. I stood there for a moment, eyeing her in return, taken slightly aback by the affront to my masculinity. "I've heard of it," I said. We stared each other down like gunslingers at high noon. She picked up the bag. "You like white chocolate?" she asked. Now, it's well-documented in these here electronic logs that I'm a huge fan of white chocolate. "It's for my wife," I lied. At least on most occasions, the little missus prefers dark chocolate to white. As Trader Jo shot me a look of disbelief, I went ahead and conceded "But I'll probably eat half the bag...and yeah, I do like white chocolate," as if the confession would offset my untruth. And with that, I quick-drew my wallet out of its holster, clicked the plastic action down through the reader, punched the green button, and laid that transaction down in no time flat. I snugged the card back in its sleeve as Jo handed me a receipt.
Impressed by my skills with the plastic, she waved me aside from the checkout, sat me down on a barstool, and took off one of her boots. It was covered in white mud, with a conglomeration of brown and red clay caked below her spurs. It was her. She was Cowgirl Jo. "Me 'n Cowboy Joe used to ride together," she said. "We'd rustle almondolopes as a team." She could tell I was impressed. "We both set out for the Big Rock Candy Mountains together, but...well, we both got a little lost along the way." She continued, "I was with 'im through Pretzel Prairie, all the way past Peanut Pond..." she trailed off and got a little teary-eyed.
"And then?" I asked.
"And then, I—I just had to follow my own heart. We went our separate ways when he went up Joe-Joe's Mountain. I continued south through the Ginger Hills, and eventually I came upon a field of Cranberry Cattle. I wrangled them up and returned 'em to Rice Ranch." As she recounted each leg of her journey, she showed me the corresponding ingredient in her "bark." Triple ginger cookies, dried cranberries, and Rice Krispy-like grains were all tasty ingredients, but...where was she headed with all this?
"Finally, I wound up on the Great White Flats of Chocolate," she said. "I have sweet, sweet memories of that place." Glancing round her store at that point, she noted that it had filled up with locals and dudes, so she excused herself and sent me packin'.
My encounter with Cowgirl Jo resonated with me for hours as Legacy and I lugged our goods back home to the missus—who surprisingly enjoyed the Cowgirl Bark more than I did! Sweet as Cowgirl Jo was, I still think she's just a-wanderin'...out there driftin' in the wilderness, just a bit lost like a tuft of tumbleweed. But if'n you like white chocolate—and ONLY if'n you like it a lot—then I say this Cowgirl Bark is worth a whirl. I give it three Sheriff Stars. The missus gives it four.
Bottom line: 7 out of 10.