Under every pair of steel-toed work boots there is a pair of brightly colored toe nails. The Girls of Pagosa still remain ladies in the midst of a man’s world.
My daughter and I enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon together. We sat in the patio of the restaurant; I looked over at her; she had rolled up her pant legs.
“Oh,” she said, “I thought I would catch a little tan on my legs while I have a chance.”
I laughed and said, “Who’s going to see them?
We stopped by the gas station on the way home, we pulled out three gas cans, and proceeded to fill them. A hunter from Oklahoma was hunting in Pagosa and was at the gas pump filling his gas cans too. He overfilled one of them and he sprayed gasoline all over us.
He said, “I’m sorry,” and kept on talking in his twang.
We laughed and made a joke out of it.
“I hope no one throws a match our way.” I whispered to my daughter, “Now there’s a Redneck.”
A friend drove up to the gas pump in a hurry. She pulled out an empty five gallon gas can from her truck and said, “The guys are mad at me, they are waiting for this gas for their chain saws. My son is selling candy bars at the Bazaar and I had to stop to take care of him, the guys are waiting to cut wood.”
My daughter said, “There’s another Pagosa Girl with gas cologne.”
I said, “It might have been better if one of the men went after their own gas.”
My daughter quickly said, “Mother, it is better she goes for the gas, or they would have her behind a chainsaw.”
The conversation continued with the man from Oklahoma. He was curious why we were buying gas.
My daughter told him, “We are buying gas for the tractor, the guys are filling potholes on our road, and the gas is for the four wheelers, the snowmobiles and the chainsaws.”
“What’s a snowmobile?” He asked.
“A jet ski on snow!” My daughter replied.
“Oh!” He said.
I thought about the gas spray and how much it takes for a woman of Pagosa to be a lady. In the ’70s, Al was gone making a living, our son and three girls hauled wood for the wood burning stove for our only heat. In the country the electricity was always going off, I cooked many meals on the woodstove. When the well froze up, we hauled water from the river behind our house. During the week the girls wore blue jeans, but come Sunday, I insisted they wear dresses.
I told them, “You are ladies, you can’t forget that.”
My daughter was planning Pasta Night. She served spaghetti from crock pots from the truck’s tailgate as the football boys came off the field from practice. She was the one to rally; the high school commons was not available that week for the football team. She wasn’t going to let the boys down. We have all learned, it’s not work, that’s what we do. Stay flexible is her cry!
Driving the kids from place to place for sports practice, digging out from the mud, cutting our guy’s hair, it’s all part of living in Pagosa.
Winter is coming and we will all wear three layers of clothing and put on an extra ten pounds. The women know how to manhandle large diesel trucks and we get giddy when we hear the chug-a-chug sound as our husbands warm the diesel for the morning. We have put chains on the car and changed a few tires. We have jump-started dead batteries and hot wired the ignition.
The neighbor lady down the way overhauled a Volkswagen Motor and my neighbor up the hill, found where the workers had cut the electrical line, leaving her house without electricity and she fixed it.
Come mud season, every woman in town will have caked-on mud on the back of her pant legs.
Every time I get in the car, Al says, “Hold up your coat and your pants. Don’t let them touch the running board.”
Al always seems to need an extra hand. “Help me here. I need to move this — hold the jack, the car might fall on me — hold the ladder while I get on top of the barn, then hand me up that piece of sheet metal.”
Last year Al had three vehicles stuck in the snow at one time, mine included. “Come steer the truck, I’m going after the tractor.” He said.
Finally, I said, “Al, you don’t have any place to go, just stay out of the vehicles.”
I just looked down at my hands on the keyboard. Salmon color paint is on my left knuckle and forest green on my fingers. I have been painting house doors.
When I go to Albuquerque, I look at the sidewalks and think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sidewalk from the house to the car.” We walk through a shopping mall and looked at all the beautiful clothes in the window and think,
“I’d never wear that in Pagosa.” The women who move here who insist on being pampered move away as quickly as they come. A for sale sign goes up in their yard and they move back to the city life.
Life in Pagosa is hard for everyone, but we all say, “It’s no effort.” The Girls of Pagosa would rather have rock on their road than a stone on their finger. Their conversation is about their septic system and the rattles in their car. Our flip flops have gone up in the closet and our plow boots have come down; but we still keep our toenails polished.
The final brushstroke: It takes a lot more work and a good sense of humor, but the Girls from Pagosa still remain as ladies in this man’s world.
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” — Victor Hugo.
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