A Western State of Mind
by Maggie O’
I’m a wife, mother and avid reader. I grew up watching the re-runs of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Big Valley and Bonanza. My favorite TV series was How the West Was Won. The most prized book in my vast collection, is James Michener’s, Centennial , I read the cover off this book and it sits proudly on my bookshelf, held together by duct tape. From my dad, I developed a love of western books; McMurtry, L’Amour and Grey. And from that love of westerns, my love of Western Romance came to be.
I’m happy to champion for the “Indie” author and proud to call most of you “Friend.” I thank you, Fantastic Ladies of the Forum, for allowing me this opportunity to share my passion for All Things Western.
For me, reading is not only a passion it’s also, I hope, an experience. I’ve always felt that the mark of a good book is one that will “suck you in” and “take you there.” And since I live in the west, what better book to read than a great western?
I live in Wyoming where the “history” of the cowboy is alive and well. Wyoming is steeped in the history of the Native American, the cowboy and the rancher, the mountain man and the homesteader, the outlaw and the lawman. All across this state I’ve visited some amazing ghost towns, old military forts and abandoned homesteads. I’ve seen teepee rings on the open range, been stuck in cattle drive traffic and been to more rodeos than I care to admit. I’ve seen crumbling ruins of Pony Express and stage coach stops. I’ve stood in awe at the sight of wagon ruts that stretch across the plains from the overland trails and wondered at the adventures of those who traveled before me.
I was most fortunate to witness the sight of a herd of buffalo, 400 strong, as they thundered across the plains in Yellowstone. I thrilled in feeling the vibrations beneath my feet, and getting the chance to watch such a spectacular vision. It was a truly breath stealing experience I’ll never forget.
And there really aren’t any westerns without some kind of romance. There’s not a cowboy out there that doesn’t love his horse, his herd, or his land. A true cowboy has a love for his old boots, his favorite Stetson, and his pickup truck. Even the cowboy way of life is a love unto itself. And if he’s lucky enough to capture the love of a good woman, that’s better than the finest hand-tooled saddle.
When I visit history first hand and then read a great western, it blurs the lines of experience and reading and imagination. It’s a vivid feast for the senses; I can taste the dust as I ride drag on the cattle drive, I hear spurs jingle as the sheriff swaggers along the boardwalk, I smell the biscuits baking over an open campfire, I see the buffalo fall as the young brave takes his first kill, and I feel the horse beneath me as I ride off into the sunset. Wyoming is where you LIVE the West, and it’s why I LOVE the western.