There's an old saying.....you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl.
If ever there was a truism....that has to be it.
I was born and bred in rural New Zealand. I've always considered we had an idyllic childhood...we may not have had much money but we were clothed, fed and loved. I greatly admire both of my parents...sadly now long deceased. They gave us something that looking back I now realise was beyond price....they gave us freedom....freedom to roam over thousands of acres...to explore.
And explore we did. We'd pack a lunch....me being the youngest girl and eager to go with the big ones this was usually my task....and away we'd go. We swam in the creek, we built dams and huts out of ponga ferns.
We climbed the hills that hemmed in our valley and looked out over the vast reaches of the Hauraki gulf.
We looked out for each other and the little ones...we knew it was more than our lives were worth to let anything bad happen to youngsters in our care.
Only once did we allow sister no 3 to pack our lunch. She decided that she was on a diet and packed us half a sandwich each! Ye Gods it was a starving bunch of urchins who trooped into the kitchen late that day.
We learned so much in those wonderful carefree barefoot summers. Caring. Consideration. Companionship. And the bonds formed between us siblings then is still strong and steadfast to this day.
What you ask has this to do with cowboys. Everything.
Whenever I want a hero it's always the strong hardworking man of the land who springs to mind. The cowboy is the quintessential rural man. Maybe the NZ model is different to the traditional cowboy of the American West.
But at heart they are men a very similar breed. Hardworking, honest and above all protective. And every hero I create possesses something of my original hero.
His ideals, his example is as dear to me now as it has always been.
His motto: "If it isn't right, don't do it. If it isn't true, don't say it. If it isn't yours, don't take it."
I love and miss you, Dad.