February is the month of Valentines and Love is in the Air, or so “they” say. I don’t know who “they” are but “they” are obviously not involved with a cowboy. The activity that is brewing in the air around our home is prepping for calving season and complaining about the lack of snow. Both are topics that don’t bring strong loving feelings from me.
The air in our home is quite mundane this time of year. Now, I’m not saying my cowboy doesn’t invoke loving feelings. He is a kind soul with a lot of love in his heart. Unfortunately, that loving heart has a tendency to express itself rather silently. One will rarely (never) hear a cowboy profess his love in the middle of a crowd. A cowboy would turn his head away from the roving camera trying to capture a kiss at a ball game, if he ever went to a ball game. You are very unlikely to experience a “dance in the rain” with a cowboy because they aren’t openly fond of getting wet. Valiant displays of affection are not the strong suit for most cowboys. The subtle gesture is more the “mode of operation” in their realm.
I’m not referring to the occasional pat or pinch on the hind end, either. That’s not romance, that’s something completely different and I’m not writing about that type of activity. I mean the gentle kiss on the forehead while I’m making dinner or the silent peck on the cheek when I’m grooming my horse. Cowboy affection is a long hug while listening to the gospel being spoken at church and catching him looking at me while I’m blow-drying my hair. That’s cowboy affection. It’s the kind of affection that is felt most deeply because it is only extended when the truest of feelings arise. A cowboy isn’t the kind to plant a long, wet, sloppy, tongue action kiss in front of your parents, either. Thank you, Lord.
The subtle gesture says all you should need to know.
There are, of course, times when I wish my cowboy was a little more obvious with his “loving side.” The occasions when we attend a birthday party for one of our seven grandkids and the “EX” is there. Be it his “EX” or mine.
He doesn’t have to reach out and shake my ex-husband’s hand and offer small talk. He could just reach his arm around my waist, hold me tight and kiss me just as my “EX” walks over. You know, kinda “mark his territory.” But that’s not how he is. He knows he loves me and I love him and he is secure in that knowledge. He believes that he has the “better deal” and he is confidant everyone knows it.
But come on…Let’s flaunt our long standing, solid relationship in front of the woman that discarded you for no good reason. Let’s just make sure she overhears us planning our Anniversary Cruise to Mexico. She’s never cruised anywhere, let alone vacationed with a cowboy. My favorite color is green and I think the “EXs” would look good in it. You do know that envy is best expressed in the shade of green, right? Instead, he shakes hands with my “EX” and tips his hat toward his. The subtle gestures say all he has to say.
I do get to feel a little special every once in a while. He does not hide in the outhouse when “our song” comes on. He will shorten a chat to shuffle around the dance floor with me at the Annual Cattlemen’s Dinner. He will “bump his hat” up to lean down and kiss me. He has to “bump his hat” because I am a full foot shorter than he is and his hat would fall off if he didn’t. He does allow me to drag him to all my non-profit meetings and events. He doesn’t complain about six horses, five chickens, two goats, two cats and a dog too awful much. He just helps me keep them fed and watered.
They may not seem like romantic gestures to you but a shuffle on the dance floor, a “bump of the hat,” sitting through a meeting and “feeding the critters” are truly my cowboy’s most loving gestures to date. They are subtle as “All Hell” but I appreciate them every day.
Take time this month to look at your significant other and make note of the subtle, romantic gestures that happen in your life. They will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Around here that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.
Erin Stadelman is a rancher's wife and a devoted care- taker of children, grandchildren, horses and cows alike. She was awarded first place by the Colorado Press Association for most humorous columnist in 2016.