The Women are Tough
by Carol Dunn
You don’t have to be in Huerfano County very long to meet up with one of our tough-as-nails women. These are the resilient gals who have seen it all, and they’ll let you know if they want to see it again. You don’t mouth off to her, or you wind up with a cast iron skillet up side the head. The Huerfano County Woman, or HCW, has paid her dues and she doesn’t take any guff from anyone. She knows how to use a gun, and the bad guys know she knows.
This is a woman who has learned to embrace the limited shopping opportunities in the immediate area and scoffs at the idea of running to the store for a loaf of bread. She knows where food comes from, and the annual rocky mountain oyster fry is a celebration she looks forward to. She can plan family meals a month in advance, and if you don’t like what she cooks up, then you can just go kill a possum for yourself and roast it over a campfire. HCW has had her fill of mud, dust, snow drifts, thistles and adobe bugs, and still she has not made everyone around her miserable because of them. She doesn’t whine about dirty cars or dirty shoes, knowing it’s just a waste of energy. She’ll need that energy later when her husband tells her it’s time to saddle her horse and help round up the cattle for branding.
Whereas the city woman may have in her closet various slinky evening dresses with matching purses and shoes for nights on the town, the rural woman has several barn outfits with coats and gloves and boots that remain at the ready in the mud room. And when she does dress up, she’s every bit a confident woman – no asking, “Do these shoes make my feet look fat?” Good thing, too, because if you’d answer that question wrong, you’d regret it. HCW doesn’t agonize over wrinkles – they are a sign of a life lived to its fullest every day: a life full of love, laughter and the occasional flat tire.
HCW can birth, herd, and brand animals. She’s spent years doing jobs most urbanized women wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, maybe even a 30-foot pole. Jobs that are hot and dusty, jobs that are freezing cold, jobs that smell bad, jobs that smell worse than bad, and jobs that give her a sore back. I saw a baby once puke a fountain of formula onto the floor that looked like it would fill a quart jar. This wouldn’t even be a blip on the screen for HCW. She’s not afraid of work. She’s not afraid of germs. When she gets sick, life goes on. Broken fingernails and bad hair days are no big deal.
Remember that all-purpose-woman song from the Enjoli perfume commercial in the ‘70s? “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan.” The HCW version of that is, “I can bring home an elk, hang it up in the barn.” And that gal in the commercial wearing a bath robe? HCW would have pulled her off the stage by the hair, replaced her wearing a proper pair of jeans, hip-checked the other two women out of the way, and informed her man he was cooking tonight.
Don’t mistake her toughness for masculinity though. HCW defines female beauty at its most basic level – a survivor with a heart of gold. And her man loves her just the way she is.