What are our views of a cowboy? Me, I am not a purist. I loved Roy Rogers as a child. I watched him faithfully every Saturday morning; the adventures of Dale, Trigger, Gabby, and the wonderful jeep, Nelly Bell held me enthralled, giving me a glimpse of other realities, making mine, for the moment, exotic and romantic. My reality was out on that ranch, chasing rustlers, hearing the serenade of coyotes, smelling the scent of juniper on the air, the soft smell of leather. I rode, with my heroes, into the setting sun, dust at my heels.
There is also a less than prosaic view of the west; the ruggedness of trail drives, the harsh mornings of waking to no food, and the need to make way in a hostile environment. Rough frontier towns, lawless, dirty, built by new settlers, gunmen, farmers, merchants, cowmen, horse wranglers, bankers,gamblers,soiled doves, teachers,ministers, villains, heroes; strong men and women with a need and drive to move forward into a future created by them, for them, and for their children. They all shared a rough and tumble existence springing from imagination and hard work.
We continue to honor the old west, with our movies, books, reenactments. Some of you are real western hero’s today, others, like me, live on the fringe of romance, making my own way while straddling both worlds of modern and old.
The cowboy is eternal, and judging by the reactions we receive from children during our old west reenactment, will always exist.
Have you thought of your image of the eternal cowboy? Do words like honor, pain, perseverance, skill come to mind? Do you understand where in your soul the cowboy walks?
Early morning, miss the sounds of chickens waking, cows bumping up against stanchions, waiting to be milked. Miss the smell of hay dust filtering down through the haymow floor. Remember sitting in the loft door, looking out over the farm, hills, fields, gullies. Miss the real country. Time to go find it again.