I wish he was sitting across the table from me, his holster with its two six-shooters lying between us on the same table, alongside his dusty and well-worn cowboy hat. I would boldly ask him, “What do you think we should do about terrorism, war and gun control?” And I imagine his thoughtful, drawly reply would begin with the words, “Well, little sister, I’ll tell ya…..”. Yeah, I’m really missing John Wayne these days! Or maybe I’m just yearning for his aura.

The thing is, you always knew where John Wayne stood - or at least you could rely on the same from the type of man he most often portrayed in his movies. Sure, he was generally fraught with a few foibles, but he didn’t wobble or waffle when it came to standing up and most often fighting for truth, honor, justice and goodness. He was never embarrassed to be an American, nor did he ever dishonor himself or the nation by being more concerned about which way the wind was blowing or whether his words followed the rules of today’s politically correct malarkey. He just spoke the plain truth, getting his point across with as few words as possible, And if that didn’t get the job done, he’d sit straight and tall in the saddle, hold the leather reins with his mouth, draw forth those same two six-shooters, and even knowing he was most often outmanned and outgunned, he’d choose to charge hell-bent towards the enemy. He didn’t flinch. And in the end, he always won the day!

But, in today’s oft-misguided world, would the man with true grit be allowed to triumph? It’s doubtful. The guns would have to go first thing, right along with the swagger and bravado. And instead of holding the reins, his mouth would be holding reams of red tape. And don’t you know he’d be expected to grit his teeth and smile as he sat across the table from some little dictator who was giving him the runaround. Nope, I can’t see Rooster Cogburn sitting still for such things. And neither should we.

Yes, I really do miss The Duke, and his sometimes rough and tumble, but always honest, way of getting things accomplished. In actuality, his acting represented the true values and heart of America - the heart that I pray still beats with at least a shred of the virtuous ways of the wild, wild west.

FFFFFFF

Early Sunday evening I laced up my tennis shoes, said “Later, guys” to the dogs, and headed out for a walk around town. I passed by a lot that Steve Parker had just mowed, and the sweet, damp grass gave up its fresh aroma that reminded me of my childhood. As I passed one house, I remembered I had a load of clothes to put in the dryer, because the fragrance of Bounce was wafting my way. Down the block and around the corner, I smelled someone’s supper cooking, and my stomach growled in response to what I think was frying onions. And on every block there were so many bushes covered with purple lilacs, and their scent was like sweet perfume upon my skin.

As I walked through neighborhoods and down the old north highway, breathing in all those familiar aromas and feeling the warmth of the sun upon my shoulders, I thought of how fortuitous it sometimes is to live in a little town on the edge of nowhere and far from the often madding and maddening crowds. From every car that passed by me, a hand waved a greeting. And even the dogs I encountered seemed to think I was someone they knew, for their barks were short and their tail wags were long. And I realized something as I walked through the garage door and into my yard, my own dogs greeting me as though I’d been gone a month of Sundays. I walk for exercise, but I also walk to exorcise tension and negativity. Without fail, by the time I am unlacing those same tennis shoes I am smiling, I am renewed, and my outlook on life has been refreshingly realigned.