Source: Summer Love, True Love
It really was love at first sight; the ranch, the barnyard bustle, the summer morning air filled with the scent of horses and leather and timothy grass, the mountains and wilderness and the trails that wound intimately through, and my family working side by side. I knew from day one, the hold this had on me, the grip on my heart and soul. I knew this was it, that I wouldn’t need anything else in my life. Just this. And although I couldn’t see it then, I see it now. This way of life assimilated into a relationship built on real, true love, summer love.
And as with all relationships in its freshness and grandeur, I found myself giving it my very best, giving my all, losing myself in the ebb and flow of all the family outfitting and dude ranch business and the nature of what it had to offer. I let it form and mold and shape me at its whim. I took when it gave, it gave everything when it could, and I waited patiently when it couldn’t, and rested on the laurels of someday and next summer. Because I knew with each breath of a new summer season, it would once again envelop me in its arms. It needed me, and I needed summer even more. I loved it with every fiber of my being. I always felt that without it, I wasn’t me, that I wasn’t honoring what my family had worked so hard to build, and I wasn’t fulfilling the contract made to my heart without it. But, mostly it was an incessant need and desire that demanded to be satiated. I needed the mountains, the horses, the trails and the dust, the meadows, the influx of new people, and the daily touchback to my family and heritage; I needed it all.
This love took me places I never knew were possible or even existed. It pushed me, helped me see untapped potential within, and broke down walls I didn’t even know needed breaking. It opened my eyes to what this life could be, what it should be. It led me to new friendships, mountain peaks and vistas I would have never otherwise seen, the clearest streams filled with the most colorful stones, the intimate trust and love of a good horse, and it led me to my next love, my husband and children.
And as with all good things, true love changes, and you start to wonder if you’re both committed to forever. Your needs start to change and so does its. I started to lose my grip on what seemed perfect and what I felt would truly last forever. I started to see flaws in this relationship, and my ability to communicate my needs and desires broke down. And the ease and comfort of my life morphed into the next phase of true love, the change. And I felt myself changing with it. I felt like I was becoming two different people. There was the side of me, the drifter side, that wanted to continue to wander and wonder and love this life as it was. But the other side of me I felt emerging desired consistency and steadfastness that this love could not offer me. And they clashed, like a gentle war in my heart. And it was a wash, no clear winner, no giant victor; only small wins here and there in a fraction of time that soothed because one side of me conceded the game being played between head and heart to the other. But only until they crossed paths again…the epitome of should I stay or should I go?
The latter of the two won. The need to find stability in something other than my love for this way of life surpassed the need to drift freely. Because it no longer was free; it came at a price. It forced choices to be made and growth to happen. The next phase of life needed to happen because I could no longer ride the tide of summer love. I had others counting on me, and I needed to count on myself. And I let go…
I didn’t give up. I didn’t win or lose. This love became best tucked away with words left unsaid because it was better that way. Letting go wasn’t leaving the love, but rather leaving feelings left unexplored and thoughts left incomplete. It wasn’t about blocking memories made, good or bad. Letting go became an acceptance of what this love really was, realizing my own need for independence, and finding peace with what it remains to be. It was a giant and gentle step into growth and knowing that my heart and head needed a clearer, gentler path. No bitterness was felt and no blame needed placed, because there was really no fault. Just the rawness that change evokes.
So, there my true, first love lies, back in the heart of the mountains, in the family left behind, the friends made, the horses and trails ridden. We both gave it everything we had at the time, and when the morning sun arose, we both knew it was time. It embeds itself there, tucked away in the rough edges of my heart, occupying vast space, a burning flame, awaiting for our paths to cross again. I take those memories out and look at them, revisit what was, and sometimes wonder what if? But more than anything, I honor this great love, a no truer love, because it made me who I am today and for that, I am forever in love and forever grateful…
This is an ode to the most beautiful woman I know. No finer lady will this world have the pleasure of knowing, and at 66, may she know that’s she’s the most beautiful version of herself now more than ever. May this serve as a reminder that even though she’s a mother, a wife, and a grandmother, that she is still all woman, and most importantly, uniquely amazing with what she offers up to this world with the biggest and kindest of hearts…. Happiest of birthdays, Mama…
I always picture her here on the back of spry black & white paint horse riding down a mountain trail. Her black hair and dark eyes glitter, and you know she’s at home here, the most in love here, and the most alive here. She sits tall and true. She rides.
But in all actuality, this is how she handles life and all the crazy it throws at her. She’s seen mountains of heartbreak, admitted guilt, nursed sick children, loved her family and husband fiercely, she’s fallen and risen, and prayed her way through it all. Sure, she’s made mistakes and blamed herself; nobody is more aware of them than her. But, through it all, she rides, head held high, straighter and truer with every turn of the trail. She rides.
She’s tough. I’ve seen her eat dirt coming off a rank colt, and pull herself up and throw a leg over him one more time, just to prove she’s boss. She has a way with horses; she sees untapped potential, and she loves the challenge of the ornery ones. And she rides them. She hangs and rattles with the best of ’em because she rides.
Lord, she’s strong; strong- willed and strong-minded, but mostly, strong-hearted. The only fear I’ve ever seen in her is the possibility of losing a loved one. And she’s been there. She’s lost love and she cries. And she loves again, stronger. She extends her open arms and heart to those around her, those in need of it most, stranger or friend. She rides through this life with grace and love. She rides.
She paints beautiful pictures, she builds a home full of laughter, love, kindness and respect. She’s music, Sunday morning hymnals, and a little kick-ass country because it’s Monday. She’s fast horses, Sunday morning church, and a lover and a fighter. She’s woman, all beautiful woman, refined and lady-like and tough as nails. She’s all of these because she rides.
I’m lucky enough to call her Mama. There’s nobody I look up to more in this life, and I am forever grateful for all she’s ever been to me. Strength when I needed, a boot in the ass when I deserved it, and unconditional love always. Thank you for all the firsts in this life, like teaching my to drive a stick and pull a horse trailer, how to cook, and how to get tough when the tough get going. Thank you for your love and support through the years when I doubted my own skills and strengths. But I’m most thankful for your teaching me to ride. Straight, strong and true, she rides…
Love you, Mama. Happy Birthday!
For my beautiful little niece on her 1st birthday!
Tough Lil’ Mis
She’s got curls a soft red & yellow
And big, smilin’ eyes bright & blue,
She’s a beauty like her mama
But has her daddy’s twinklin’ eye for trouble too.
You see, Little Miss, you’re made of pretty tough stuff.
You’re rooted by the best kind of folks in this life.
Those made of big ‘ol Montana mountains & streams
And the rich, fertile land of Florida cattle ranchin’ life.
Right now it’s spotted stick ponies, pink cowboy hats and boots
Stuffed puppies and baby dolls and farm animals strewn all about,
But as time flies, that will change to fancy loops and fast horses,
A Dodge truck, horse trailer, and a Boxer pup to boot!
Daisey Rae, there’s no doubt, no straighter loop will be thrown,
Or a better hand will be made with horse or cow around
When you hit the ground a’runnin’
Ain’t nothin’ much will keep you down.
You’ve got the makins’ of a real cowgirl
Ya see, you really can’t help but be
When your mama’s one of the best
And your daddy’s one of the toughest cowboys to beat.
This ol’ life may never be easy, Miss Daisey
Your gonna have to jerk your cinch up tight.
But when the goin’ ain’t easy, the tough get goin’
So pull that hat down tight & just enjoy the ride.
Happiest of birthdays to you!