So it’s your turn to host the clan for the Thanksgiving extravaganza and you’re trying to decide if there is a way to get the house in presentable “haven’t seen these people in a year” shape without tearing the whole place down and starting over. The key to your success is in the details. When you clean your house remove all of the current accent pieces, the ones you have had out since you moved into the house, and start fresh. Clear the pillows from the petrified sofa and the colorless vase from the mantle and begin your adventure into tasteful, always inviting, cowgirl chic. A pillow with leather fringe and a pounded metal, bling ridden receptacle for your mums will bring new life to the old walls, without the hours of work that you should spend making your pies. Dress your house for the holiday in a way that will have them stopping and smiling and thinking how truly clever you are. Pine Country Feed will set you up in a quick morning’s stop, and send you on your way with a treasure trove of wow!
Hollywood loves horses, in every form. They love the horse that can win a race, or the horse that stands by his man until the last shot is fired. They have given us talking horses, horses that fly, singing and dancing horses, carousel horses and horses that have broken our hearts. They are the favorite means of transportation in an entire genre of movies, and most of the favorite film stars of the forties, fifties and sixties ended up on a horse at one time or another. Horses are back in style on the silver screen with westerns making a come-back over the last fifteen years. Today’s westerns are more violent and the main characters never bathe, but one thing is consistent with the early western. The best friend of the cowboy, rancher, farmer, or settler is still the horse. The west simply wouldn’t have been settled without them. The four legged beasts are beautiful, noble, intelligent, usually gentle pictures of the soul of an era that was misbehaved, poorly planned and truly brutal. When everyone else was spitting, drinking too much, gun fighting in the streets, the horse brought a grace and sureness to America’s wild picture of the west that makes us love them. They are the spirit of what we wish we could be; strong, sleek, peaceful. And they do talk by the way – you just have to listen really carefully.
So we have recently found the choices for big cinema entertainment wanting, and we have finally put our finger on the problem. The movies tend to parade leading men across the screen who obviously spend a good portion of their time in the gym, not necessarily bad. But we are bothered by the fact that only a small handful of the real leaders could manage a ride on a horse. They simply wouldn’t look right astride one of the glorious equines of the Hollywood 40s and 50s and we can’t even imagine most of them being able to get on the horse without major injury. Cowboy movies, the real westerns that put the country west of the Mississippi on the map, needed men to be rugged, not fit necessarily, but tough, and since the horse has been removed as one of Hollywood’s main characters, that element of grit, of rock solid, take no prisoners, don’t make me pull my six shooter persona has faded to black. There have been a few westerns in the past decade that have proven that there are a few of those boys left, but too few to our liking. Somehow being able to download the secrets of the defense department before the guy in the suit walks into the room just doesn’t give off the same aura as a man who can control his horse with the reigns in his teeth, riding at the speed of locomotion, while he wields both of his guns with the accuracy of a sharpshooter. Imagine.
If you’re beside yourself trying to decide what to be for Halloween, worry no more. Be a cowboy, in a long duster and hat with boots and spurs, and it might be helpful if you could pack a six shooter. It is said that houses that have been converted from barns to houses are often haunted by cowboys of the early west. They are never mean or scary; they just kind of reside in the barn/house harmlessly watching over the place. People who lived in one such house said that they often heard spurs jangling on the hardwood floor, and there was a distinct smell of horses and hay and well worn tack in the kitchen. One woman, awake in the early hours of the morning, saw one of the duster clad apparitions walking down the hallway between her living room and dining room and as he passed he looked her way and tipped his hat then vanished through the back door. It’s good to know that true to form, the cowboy, even a ghost of a cowboy, is friendly and polite even when he is haunting a house. Have a great Halloween weekend!
Academy award winning actor, Henry Fonda, awarded the sixth “Greatest Male Film Star of All Time” by the American Film Institute, played a variety of roles, in films that are considered classics, worth seeing again, like Jezebel, Twelve Angry Men, Grapes of Wrath and Mr. Roberts. He was a classic actor, always underplaying his role, but owning the screen nonetheless. So when the American Western became the film genre that everyone wanted, Henry Fonda found a way to make it work. In some ways he wasn’t believable as a cowboy. His features were a bit too refined and his voice had a compelling gentle timbre that didn’t ring true in the old west. Still, he pulled off some of his greatest roles in the saddle in The Tin Star, How the West Was Won, Fort Apache and Warlock, carving out for himself a place as the rational cowboy, the one who thought before he pulled his gun, and perhaps that is what movie goers came to love best about him. He brought civility to the dusty streets of Hollywood’s Wild West, and a bit of un-fussy refinement, and that was refreshing. He wasn’t one of those actors who seemed to be born with a Stetson on their head, but when he decided to wear one, it fit.
We have often wondered what it is about the legendary American cowboy that is so appealing to the world of 2011. They were people covered with calluses and basically held together by dirt, they rarely had money, many of them drank too much, they smelled of sweat both human and equine, they thought of spitting as a conventional past time and guns were their favorite accessory, and yet we love them and sometimes wish we were one of them. It is something about their grit, their willingness to keep going when the herd has run amuck, their quiet way of owning the room, their “not afraid of hard work, get it done” attitude that we think of as American fable. We want them to win, to get the girl, to love their horse, to kill the bad guy – and we want to believe that they do it all with the best of intentions and a heart of gold, because they belong to the roots of who we are. They are fully American and totally bigger than life and that makes them the center of our dreams and the thing we love to believe in. Just a bunch of guys who wrestled cows and rode the range and we can’t get enough of them.
When Anna Sewell wrote her novel, Black Beauty, it was an immediate hit, selling 50 million copies, making it one of the best-selling novels of all time. It is the story of a horse, told by a horse and it threads a heartwarming and adventuresome tale of life in 1877 England from the viewpoint of the four legged laborers that kept civilization moving in those days. The book, besides being an intriguing read, addresses the humane, or inhumane as it were, treatment of animals, and specifically horses in that time. Horses were for work and the heroin of the story, Black Beauty, struggles through many different owners and works more than her share until one day she lands in the hands and heart of someone who truly loves her for the remarkable creature she is. Sewell’s story, though a fiction, stirred a new commitment to the proper treatment of animals and put horses in a place of dignity that many had not recognized before. By giving Beauty human qualities and a relatable, tender personality Sewell succeeded in carving out a place in our lives for these noble, intelligent beings that pays them the homage they deserve. It is notable that Anna Sewell wrote this book as she was dying, and just five months after its publication she passed, making Black Beauty her first and last novel and her legacy.