My fiance and I recently took a nice extended hiatus from urban life to return home for the holidays. We were gone for a total of 11 days, and the break could not have been more welcome. The two of us had a wonderful time back among family and friends and split the time between our respective home towns.
Observing the differences between our two locales for the trip was remarkable. Although I have experienced this difference for quite some time now, continually analyzing the subtleties of urban vs. rural life has given me a fresh perspective. First of all, it should be understood that not all rural residents raise livestock as my future in-laws do. But, on the whole, rural residents are much more closely tied to the land and earth's abundant resources, therefore finding themselves sympathetic with all of the work and effort associated with caring for animals.
So what's the difference? Well...let's start at the ranch.
Upon a Christmas eve arrival near lunchtime, we found ourselves smack in the middle of chores for the day. The family was just getting in to grab a bite and then head back out to the blowing cold to finish haying the various groups and pastures of cattle spread over a good 8 miles. The afternoon unfolded with some quick home cookin', a thermos full of hot coffee and slipping into the coveralls! Within an hour, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a corn circle flaking hay to a hungry bunch of cows and calves in 15 degree weather with a 40 mile an hour wind at my back. Whew, that's a wake up call after sitting in the car and a hotel room for the previous 20 hours of my life.
Yeah, but what about Christmas? Truly, the site was beautiful; snow falling and the wind howling outside. A warm cup of coffee, the news on with scrambled eggs, sausage and waffles on the griddle. It's the stuff you see on a CMT Country Christmas special. For most people I know, including my family, following a scrumptious breakfast such as the one in which I had just indulged, the day would continue to unfold with a beautiful leisurely pace including Christmas music, unwrapping presents and possibly watching the Macy's parade. Well, out in ranch country the warm fuzzies stop shortly after the last swig of coffee disappears. Chores still need done, and the cattle still need fed and it turns out that a winter wonderland is dang cold when you actually have to function and tend to living creatures, not just look at how cute and cuddly they are! Christmas had just about came and went before we found the time to gather in the family room to exchange gifts and enjoy the entire family's company.
The following days unfolded similarly for the rest of the weekend until it was time to hit the road. With that, we were off to fight the masses of the Colorado Front Range region to visit my family and take part in our belated Christmas celebration.
Arrival at my home could not contrast more. While both places offer warm hugs and a truly special family atmosphere, the similarities end right about there. In the city, my greatest responsibilities included grabbing my dad a beer and teaching him how to play the new Wii that he had given to my mother on Christmas. Mornings found more scrumptious home cookin', but without the urgency of livestock to be cared for. After all, why hurry? Following breakfast there was only TV to watch and planning out the day's shopping trips and errands. At the ranch, there was no need to run into town for anything over the entirety of our stay. However, I find it interesting that the mere proximity to all the urban amenities caused us to seek them out while battling the big crowds of people that had the same idea.
Days and nights passed without event while we gathered in each others company to watch a movie, join in on some Wii bowling and play a couple games of pool. My brother, his wife and my 3 year old neice also made the short trip home a couple of times to join in the festivities. All-in-all, a wonderful break from the pressures of even bigger city life in Dallas. Following our short stay in town, we were back out to the ranch to face the cold and a vigorous bunch of 190 calves that needed preconditioning before they were weaned and sold.
So, what's the lesson? I'm not sure there is some deep social commentary attached to this post. Only a couple of heartfelt observations about the rural life and why it is important. While residing in the urban construct, it is easy to take in the relaxation and bounty of the past year during the holidays. During that time, we gather to enjoy the company we have missed out on over the year and partake in the spoils of our professions and the long hours spent waging war with computers and clients and the like. We marvel at the wonderful food and gifts that are predicated upon by our urban careers. However, unless you are presented with the opprotunity to see the other side of the coin, it is hard to even imagine the hard work and toil that is taking place just outside the city limits out in the rural expanses of our nation, even while most people open their gifts on Christmas morning. It is truly a special gift that is given by our nations livestock producers and rural residents that enable our urban way of life 24/7. That's the observation and opportunity that I wish everyone had the chance to enjoy.
Here's what we got up to over the holidays at the ranch in Kirk, CO. Sorry if some of the images are a little difficult to see, they were taken on my phone while I was working!!! Enjoy.