Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Modern Day Fall Back to the Old Days by Amber Bentley

This may not be the typical post for Cowboy Kisses, but I hope someone will enjoy it. (Pictures in this post are my personal images, please do not take without permission or claim as your own)

I grew up on a farm, raised by my grandparents. I couldn't wait to get away from the "slow moving" little country town I grew up in during the 80's and early 90's. I was going to model, I was going to become a trauma doctor....

It was too slow. People wore cowboy boots and had cowboy hats. You had to drive 10 minutes to get to a neighbor or call them on your phone. We didn't have internet or cable television. (Cable television was fairly new while I was growing up - showing my age a bit.)

We had cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. We had geese and duck. We had acres and acres of corn fields and a private garden closer to the farmhouse (yes, actual farmhouse built in the late 1600's that was passed down through my family) that grew a large number of vegetables for our own table.

We had a fireplace that my grandpa chopped wood for. You didn't go buy it at a local store already cut and packaged. You didn't buy it from someone else who chopped it and then delivered it to you. My grandpa worked hard days during spring, summer, and fall to be sure we had what was needed to survive winter of our own accord. He was often out from before sun up to well after sun down.

Meals were family things. Everything was made from scratch. You sat at the table and said a prayer before shoving that first bit into your mouth. No one started before everyone was there and no one left until everyone was done.

True to my word, at 18 I left. I didn't look back. I modeled to put myself through med school. After all, I had plans. I was going to be someone.

My grandparents passed a couple months apart from each other. I missed all of it because of modeling jobs and med school. I couldn't give up what I'd wanted for years. They'd understand why I missed the wake and funeral. They'd understand why I wanted nothing to do with the land, fields, combines, livestock and the old farmhouse that had been in the family for generations. I was living in the city. I had internet and cable. I had friends and weekends at the clubs.

I didn't regret a single moment of it until I had my first child. Reality hit me. If I was going to be a trauma doctor, how would I know my child? How would they know me? What energy would I have left after working 36+ hour shifts and being on call as an intern almost seven days a week?

That's when I threw away the medical degree that was going to get me out of being nothing more than a hillbilly on a farm. The girl that passed high school weekends mudding in huge lifted 4X4 trucks. The girl that worked hard her first year of college to stop saying "y'all" and become that city girl she'd always wanted to be.

Fast forward through mistakes and lessons learned to a few years ago. I was suddenly in that middle age bracket. I had teenagers as children. And I still wasn't happy. I had a house, we had food, clothing, utilities and things to make us comfortable. I should have been pleased. I wasn't.

Then started a year long inner discovery. Why was I not happy? I looked back at notebook after notebook of scribbles of partial books I'd written. All of them had one thing in common. They were full of people that lead simple lives out in the country.

The life I'd hated and walked away from - never looking back.

I moved to a very small town. We have cowboys - real ones, not the ones that put on the hat and boots because it looks cool. Cowboys that break their own horses, move their own cattle (on horses), can rope and ride bulls and steer wrestle.

Where the town is so small there isn't even a high school. Where the PreSchool through 8th grade school has less than 180 kids.

Where you have to stop your truck and wait for cattle to roam through the dirt road because it's all open range. There's no leash law. Most people use the library internet and the library is only open a couple days a week for a few hours a day.

Where the men still open the door for you when they see you walking up. Where they tip their hat and tell you to have a good day and really mean it. Where the men help you carry things and don't cheat on their wives. Where your word is still what you have and it's a good enough commitment for those around you. Where a barter system is still used and your neighbor will help you out without begrudging you because it's the neighborly thing to do.

It's the place where you can walk or jog and everyone waves at you and cheers you on - and means it. Where your kids are safe to roam and be kids. Where there's no street lights but you can still sleep with the windows and doors open because it's safe.

It's the place where this country girl turned city girl realized she'd been living a lie for decades.

There are still good honest people in the world. And there still are those places that you can go back in time and take life at a slow pace. Not everyone here has a lot of money - but they are so much richer than most people I've met - they have family, love, real friends, and kind hearts.

It's a reason that I'm loving writing my cowboy books and has allowed me to actually write contemporary and not just historical - because cowboys do still exist.


Kahleena said...

I think the slow nature and the hard work ethic is one of the reasons I only write historical. It's great to visit and live in places that hold on to some of the real values.

Cathy Brockman said...

wonderful post. My grandfathr had a farm when I was little, I now would like one to retire too.

Amber said...

It's amazing, yet sad - how things like that can easily be dismissed, taken for granted, and even hated. Then, generally much too late, we realize how important it all really was. Thanks so much for stopping by :)

Jacquie Rogers said...

I just came back from Owyhee County where I grew up. Yes, I miss the area and most especially the people, which is why my Hearts of Owyhee series is set there. But the hectic pace of a dairy farm is not something I miss. We lived by the clock--milking at 3am and 3pm, breakfast at 7:30am, dinner at noon, supper at 6pm. All meals cooked from scratch. Cows, heifers, steers, chickens, hogs, and horses have to be fed. And of course in between all that the fields need planted, irrigated, cultivated, and harvested. On top of the daily work, we canned and froze over 1,000 quarts of vegetables. I couldn't even begin to keep up with that pace now, and I admire those that do. A farmer has to know a lot about a lot of things to be successful.

Unknown said...

A very touching post. Thank you for sharing it. There are real cowboys, and they are my heroes.

Unknown said...

Do places like this still exist? I grew up a small town girl who became a city girl, but yes, I remember a childhood similar to that. Both our journeys have a happy ending, Amber.
Cool post. Thanks for sharing.

Caroline Clemmons said...

My grandparents lived that life and I loved visiting them each summer. But the life was hard, as Jacquie said, and they had to move to town after my grandfather was injured in a tractor accident. They moved to a small town I loved. I doubt they ever locked their house. Thanks for the memories.