By Bronwyn Jameson
I’m currently immersed in cowboys. Over the past month I’ve watched movies, read non-fiction about ranch life and training trail horses and the cowboy way, as well as fiction set in the American west. I’m listening to country music. I’ve started watching the first season of Nashville.
None of this has been a hardship. In fact, it’s fun and ridiculously addictive... partly because this is quite a switch from the rich, cosmopolitan worlds I’ve most recently been obsessed with. I’d forgotten how much I love a good western...and a good—or wickedly bad—cowboy.
John Wayne. Gary Cooper. Clint Eastwood. Bonanza. Rawhide. F Troop J. I adored Anne McAllister’s Code of the West series for Silhouette and the western historicals of Maggie Osborne and Jo Goodman and Johanna Lindsey. (Does anyone else love her Angel as much as I do?)
So when I was invited to write a novella for Montana Born Books, I jumped at the chance to create my very own cowboy story. There will be horses, of course, and barn cats and a country band that plays covers of Lady Antebellum and Sara Evans and Keith Urban. There will be work-roughened hands and leather chaps and boot-cut jeans that fit just so.
There will be a little loping, some sauntering and that slanted look from beneath the brim of a big black hat.
Those are the superficial things. Window-dressing, if you will. Dig deeper beneath the romanticised mystique and you’ll find the real cowboy. He is a hard worker, often in uncompromising environments. The cowboy is capable, self-reliant, tough. A simple man whose word is his bond, who doesn’t conform to trends, who lives by his own set of values. The strong, stoic type who is inclined to let his actions do the talking.
Do you have a favourite western? A favourite cowboy depiction? What do you find most attractive about the cowboy way?