Always, as we enter into a new year, I like to look back at the past year and reflect on the memories, especially the good ones.
One of the best memories and most enjoyable evenings we had happened in early November. Of course, before I get to that, I must explain how it all began.
In 2018, Tink and I watched “The Waltons” from the first season to the last. We found it on a channel called INSP. Somewhere halfway through those seasons, we saw a commercial for an INSP-created show called “The Cowboy Way: Alabama.”
Tink loves all things cowboy. He even subscribes to a couple of cowboy magazines. And on the cover of my newest book, “Let Me Tell You Something,” he is wearing a cowboy suit, at four years old, that was a Christmas gift from his father’s friend, Mr. Walt Disney.
We were instantly interested in “The Cowboy Way: Alabama” so I wrote the channel’s publicist, Tara Brown, who sent me the first couple of seasons, and we launched into watching it, instantly falling in love with the simplicity of the show and the humility of its stars.
Bubba Thompson, Cody Harris, and Chris “Booger” Brown are young, handsome men who are trying to feed their wives and babies by adhering to the old, traditional cowboy ways – in South Alabama. The location adds an interesting twist. They raise cattle, curse the tribulations on counting for the weather to act right, trust in God, take their hats off when the flag is raised, ride horses, rope steers here and there, and count heavily on pickup trucks. We have not missed an episode.
In early November, we were thrilled to be invited to have dinner with the guys, Tara, and network executives Craig Miller and Elizabeth Buraglio, in the picturesque town of Fairhope, Alabama.
We arrived 20 minutes early and were waiting to be seated when Tink looked across the room. Like a little boy who’d just seen a hero, he grinned, then turned and whispered to me, “Look, baby. It’s a cowboy!”
There, across the restaurant, was Cody Harris, sitting alone, having arrived even earlier than we had. When we approached to introduce ourselves, he rose, took off his hat, and offered his hand.
“Miss Ronda, Mr. John, it’s a pleasure to meet ya.”
What a lovely evening it was. I sat in the midst of the cowboys and asked questions while Tink chimed in with great enthusiasm as we discovered that these young men we cheer for on TV are just like their alter egos; they’re courteous, thoughtful, hard-working, Jesus-revering, America-loving husbands and fathers. These farmers are helping feed our country even though it could lead them to half-starvation themselves since farming won’t make you rich. Or even comfortable.
Most memorable was when our food arrived. “We gotta bless this food,” Cody said, grabbing the waiter and pulling him in. “You get over here with us and pray, too.” The waiter complied and dropped his head. I’ve never seen anything like that happen. It was lovely.
I asked the blessing then we dove into more conversation and delicious, fresh seafood. As Tink engaged in energetic conversation with the cowboys, I laughed to myself, thinking of a conversation I’d overheard between Tink and his best friend in Los Angeles.
“We’re having dinner tomorrow night with Cody, Bubba, and Booger,” he said, pausing a beat before continuing. “I bet you’ve never had dinner with anyone named Bubba or Booger.”
The answer to that, I gathered, was “no.” Firmly.
We’re not the only ones who admire the three cowboys. They recently won an award as a fan favorite on cable television.
You can start your New Year off with a dose of goodness by tuning into the premier of the fifth season of “The Cowboy Way: Alabama” on INSP on January 6 at 8 p.m.
Our hats – cowboy and otherwise – are off to them.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.