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January 27, 2009

Little tract house on the prairie

Ann marie If you watched the Inauguration you may have seen a light gray cowboy hat behind Mr. Obama as he took the presidential oath. I believe that was former Colorado senator Ken Salazar peaking out trying to get a better view. Lately, lots of folks have been picking on Mr. Salazar’s cowboy hat saying that he shouldn’t have worn it when he accepted the nomination for U.S. interior secretary. Even the local press got into the act knocking his Western sartorial style.

Non-Coloradans don’t know that Mr. Salazar grew up on a ranch that his family still runs, and it’s normal to wear cowboy duds when out and about. No, cowboys don’t remove their hats when doing business or dining out, probably because there’s no place to hang the darn things. Then again most people don’t remove their baseball caps at the table. Miss Manners is so not amused.

Historically, my Weld County town was a farming and coal mining community. The mines are closed and covered over, but the American rural way of life is still going strong. We live close to farms and dairies, and if the wind’s blowing right, boy howdy, it sure smells that way, too. There’s nothing like the stink of 15-foot tall turkey manure piles to get the kids asking, “Who farted?” No wonder we keep the windows closed.

Still, living out here has given my children a unique perspective on things. Each morning on the way to school, my daughter, Lucie gives us the weather report. “The horses are wearing clothes,” means it’s cold. “The horses are naked” (always accompanied by giggles galore) means it’s not-so-cold. Very observant, but who knew that horses are smarter than people? Horses obviously have horse sense, and my children have no sense especially on snowy winter days when they ask to wear shorts to school. The horses are wearing clothes and you should cover up, too!

My husband and I are thrilled that our children are being raised in a state where the country isn’t so far from the city, and we wholeheartedly embrace it from our vintage Acme cowboy boots to our Rockmount pearl snap-button shirts. Only in Colorado are prize steers paraded through the Brown Palace Hotel, and a bi-coastal-Midwestern family (only Lucie is a native right down to her pink cowgirl hat, vest and boots) can feel at ease in our tract home on the Colorado suburban prairie. See you at the rodeo!

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