24 Aug sweat, cowgirls, and the great escape
I have to admit, I’ve been in a funk since we got back from Colorado. I attribute it to missing old friends, but also readjusting to the triple-digit weather. I hear people in other parts of the country talk about heat “waves” and I can sympathize, but here we’ve been riding the wave for months. (According to the National Weather Service, our area averages 100 days over 100 degrees each year.)
I am someone who needs to get outside every day. I just do. Fresh air nourishes my soul. Yet, the 5-minute walk to Bronwynn’s school leaves us both drenched with sweat and delirious. That’s at 7:45 a.m.
Last weekend, Kris (a.k.a. my hero) suggested an escape. We packed up and headed to Payson, AZ, the gateway to the Mogollon Rim. The rim is basically a 7,000-foot wedge dividing the sweltering desert to the south and the Colorado Plateau to the north. Beyond the rim is another world–lush green trees, dramatic winds and cooler weather. In about 90 minutes of driving, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Ahhhhh.
Payson also happens to be the home of the world’s oldest rodeo (they claim), so we made a stop to see what that’s all about. It was my first ever rodeo (despite my southern upbringing, I’ve never been much of a country girl).
Holding an oversized cup of freshly squeezed lemonade in one hand, a bag of kettle corn in the other, we settled into the bleachers for the show. A cool breeze bathed us for a couple of hours while we watched cowboys and girls gallop across the ring.
Maybe it was the smell of fresh dirt, or the sea of cowboys holding their wide-brimmed hats against their hearts. Maybe it was the utter joy of sitting outdoors for the first time in weeks. Or the sight of that gorgeous blonde horse. Or the kids’ faces, rapt. But when this woman rode in front of us holding the American flag, I got all teary.
There’s a patriotism and loyalty to the desert out here. In other places too, but it takes on a unique flavor in the West. And to be present–physically and emotionally present–with people who ooze passion for the land and culture they love…. well, it snapped me out of my funk.
Next up: Big burly cowboys were tossed like rag dolls from the backs of bucking broncos.
It must hurt to land face-first in the dirt. Seriously. Some of the falls were totally brutal to watch. Yet I couldn’t help feeling bad for the horses. The cowboys choose to ride. The horses don’t.
(There’s also the oddity of smelling barbeque from the vendors while watching livestock perform. Hmmm.)
But since I was at the world’s oldest rodeo, amongst some of the world’s most loyal rodeo fans, I kept those thoughts to myself.
After the rodeo, we found a park to explore with a pond. Some rain clouds rolled in, and the temperature dipped lower and lower, which made us want to stay longer and longer.
When the skies opened up, we didn’t run for shelter right away. We stood there and savored every single drop of that rain. We got soaked, and we loved it.
Before heading home, we found a restaurant with patio seating and requested to sit outside so we could enjoy the rain even more.
We drove home feeling so relaxed and refreshed. Even the kids seemed calmer than usual, happier than usual. Fortified and ready to face a few more weeks of searing heat before the wave finally breaks.