One hopeful heart

NORTH FORTY NEWS FILE PHOTO.

Guest Columnist
Special to North Forty News

In 2007 National Geographic published a national singles map indicating that there are many more women in New York City than men. Careers in modeling, dancing, singing, and acting draw beautiful women from all over the world. And men who love their cars wouldn’t dream of living where they can’t easily have one.

Faced with these grim facts, for four long years, I participated in online dating in the New York Metropolitan area where I managed to meet 1 to 2 new guys a month (and only two seriously scary ones). But these men seemed jaded, depressed, or totally focused on money.

Finally, I gave up, deciding that if I was going to spend the rest of my life alone, I better find out where I would be the happiest – alone. But what could compare to Manhattan? It’s a pretty exciting place.

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Then one day I saw a documentary with a rancher – and I was smitten. I’d never seen before the apparent tenderness with which he seemed to treat his family, his animals, and his workers. Perhaps this particular cowboy was exceptional but there seemed to be a unique character to his actions. So I wondered if some of these men became widowers later in life, where did they go to date? Within 24 hours I found a dating site for farmers and ranchers and signed up immediately.

My profile header “Kind Manhattan Woman Seeks Gentle Cowboy” caused “pushback.” Some men blocked my profile.

But I was also in for the surprise of my life. Sweet men from all over the country began writing me volumes about why they loved raising horses, why they loved farming, why they loved where they lived, why they loved my profile, and why I should visit them. I’d never seen anything like it. Some recent widowers shared that they weren’t sure why they were on the site as they were nowhere near ready to date.  So I wrote back and asked them to share what they loved most about their late wives.  A few of them thanked me for providing a safe place to be heard. And a few shared that they looked forward to receiving my emails in their time of grieving.

Especially with recent widowers, meeting was not the issue — exploring how we both thought and felt was. One kind man from rural Maine advised me not to consider moving anywhere in New England. He’d lived in his town 55 years but because he wasn’t born there, he was still referred to as “from away.”

Knowing I was moving “somewhere” in the country I became intrigued with meeting someone from Colorado. Sure enough, one day I spotted a profile of a man with a kind face. He lived in an area so rural that just in my apartment building lived double the population of his town. But I was determined to meet this man – and I did.

After months of emails and long friendly phone calls I was invited to spend January 4 through January 20, 2016 on a ranch west of the Rockies on the Colorado River with views so scenic that John Fielder published a photo taken on the ranch. In addition to being in a really beautiful location, my rancher friend spoke a western dialect I’d never heard before, not even in western movies.

Weather permitting, every day my host took me out driving, providing detailed commentary along the way – Leadville, Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Avon, Eagle, Beaver Creek, Yampa, and all the areas in between. Now, you might guess that I am a talker but on these daily excursions, seeing all this open land, I was speechless. And I couldn’t help thinking that I was just one heartbeat away from being all alone in the Rocky Mountains (and out of cell phone range). But not for one moment did I fail to appreciate the privilege all this was and how brave this conservative man was to invite this Manhattan woman to his home. Every night I gladly cooked gourmet meals for my rancher host and his son. One night, one of them picked up the plate and licked it! To his delight, I gently said “I have seconds.”

But while we respected each other and we are still friends, it was clear I could not adjust to change this drastic. Added to his rural location, my new friend was on the very quiet side. I did my best to stifle my chatty self so as not to wear him out – but still…

Vastly different though we are, we are still fans of each other. Assisted by my new rancher friend, when I returned to Manhattan, I began my Colorado research. He recommended many books including some on pioneering women – I read every book he suggested and then shipped them west for his library.

Nine months after meeting my kind rancher, with his encouragement, I moved to Fort Collins and this past year I have been very happy here.

He called the other day to inform me he’d had a “little accident” on the ranch (4 broken ribs and a collapsed lung) but that he was doing much better and that we’d get together in the Spring.

Now that I’m a little more settled, someday I just may go on that dating site again. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll meet a sweet man who lives nearby. It just might happen – I know it could!

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