Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last longhorn...

Technology is a take-no-prisoners juggernaut, leaving the destruction of Americana in its wake.

I love my HDTV, I am writing this on a new laptop while sipping coffee from an automatic grind, drip coffee maker. Technology and modern convenience are necessary evils in this forward-thinking, evolving world. I get it.

But sometimes I mourn the loss of the Cowboy. Not the kind that melted down in the run-up to the NFL playoffs. The real Cowboy.

The guy that didn't need a GPS to know where to poke the cows. He knew instinctively where to go and what perils lie ahead. We don't have instincts like that anymore.

The real cowboy knew the forecast by gut and by watching the horizon... not The Weather Channel, which was still 180 years in the future. Honestly, his forecast might have been more accurate.

Everything he needed was in his saddlebag. Rope, soap, beans and bacon, jerky, a kettle, flint rock, ammunition, coffee, cigarettes, salt, a good sharp knife, maybe a Bible, and certainly a flask of whiskey. The essentials. No shampoo, no Blackberry, no 16 year old scotch, no pager.

He spent his time alone with his cattle. There was always enough time (and quiet) to think. His true love was likely the memory of a woman. His commitment was to his herd and the horizon.

His idea of luxury was a hot bath in the next town, which might be two weeks away. His best friends were ranch folks and the occasional friendly Indian. His idea of mass transportation was a stagecoach, and his only communication was a telegraph wire. No cell phone, no text messages.

Just a man, his horse and the great outdoors.

There are cowboys today, but they're not the same. Real Cowboys are as extinct as purple sage and unowned land. They died when barbed wire and highways appeared.

Ironically, to those who enjoy today's advanced technology, it's popular to call those simpler times. I would argue they were infinitely more complex and difficult.

Back in the day, it was common to find an occasional feral horse, saddle still on. That usually meant that somewhere, a cowboy had thrown his last rope and gone to meet his maker.

What I wouldn't give to have him back.


Jennifer said...

He's still around! I've seen them many a time in my travels in rural Mexico. And if you go to south Texas or some parts of New Mexico, they are still there too, held there in time by poverty. Although I don't know that they are any happier or sadder than us.

Blogarita said...

Nice post.

I get these feelings, sometimes, thinking about my grandparents. For most of their lives, and the beginning of mine, they lived without the conveniences of indoor plumbing or central heat/air, although those things were becoming readily available. I miss seeing that way of life, which was both simpler and harder.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Sorta like the Marlboro Man, huh?

Weary Hag said...

...and there it is! That kickass writing style that I have so missed.

Dave... just wanted to wind my way around here a bit and wish you and your beautiful wife and children the most peace-filled and healthy and happy and fun new year ever!

Boy I love how you write when you really get going.

You take good care... WH

kellie's wildlife said...

To show my friend Kellie I'm not some completely insane, rabid flower child, here's a blog post of mine she will like.

I don't just like....I love and couldn't agree more. However, I'm not giving up on your rabid flower child too will write a blog someday and I will love it as well. :)