Thursday, April 8, 2010

The hands of a Ranchers Wife

I have long been fascinated by the human hand. With an amazing 27 bones. All of which work in exact synchronization to complete any myriad of tasks with minimal thought on our part. The hand is certainly an amazing part of human creation. The bible references the word "hand" an astounding 1,466 times. Trumping, Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Mouth by a significant number.

So, why today am I so fixated on the hand? Well, like I said I have always found the hand interesting. There are so many things about the hand that are special. The over all structure is of course amazing, and the functions that the human hand performs on a daily basis without much consideration are none the less extraordinary. But what really intrigues me about the hand is the stories that they tell. And out here the hand of a ranchers wife has many tales I have no doubt. Just like the completely different structure of the land here, I have noticed that the shape, texture and structure of a ranchers wife's hands are just as varied.

Kyle and I have been pondering the lives of the many locals that call this valley home, and there are always two things in common. We notice that those in the "Mature" age range look and act much younger than their respective ages. Second, the ranchers wives are much stonger and more independant than most women we've met in our life times.

The other day we were at an event and I was introduced to one of the members of the community. I have to say that she was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She was introduced as someones daughter. My immediate thought was, "Oh, another woman my age here in the valley!" As we were talking, I confess I was trying to discern her approximate age. There was not a crow's foot, wrinkle or ounce of sagging skin about her face. (I have more crow's feet than this woman did). She was obviously in her 20's. Then she introduced me to her teenage daughters! But I digress, it is not the age of her face that threw me over the moon for this woman. It was her hands! I have never seen hands like these apart from around here. I suppose they are observed as the norm, in this area. But, really they where beautiful!

Her hands told the story of her life I'm sure. A ranchers daughter and/or wife, raised in the west. She had worked hard to raise her family. Simply manicured for practical reasons. These hands where for using. (I know I'm not capturing the amazing structure of her hands so use your imagination.) Yes, they showed an age her face did not. You could see in those hands the skill to prepare a meal, do the household chores, and also be a useful hand on the ranch, these hands where skilled at handling animals, equine and bovine. Yes, these hands I'm sure had worked countless branding's. vaccinated rowdy calves, loved her husband and her children, They had wiped away tears, sweat, dust. Where tender and yet strong for the millions of work days performed. They where the exact picture of what I imagine the Proverbs 31 woman's hands where.

Never idle, always moving, completely productive, strong, soft... Need I go on?

So, to the point: This woman's hands were extraordinary to me, but here in the valley, it is a story I have been reading over and over again. I have yet to meet a single woman of any age who's hands don't at least tell some of these tales. Some are adorned with fine jewelery, or none at all, some even have french manicures - though I'll never know how they do it. They are out in the coral working along side their husbands, doing what must be done.

Yes, the hands of a ranchers wife are extraordinary. They are a cutout of Proverbs no doubt. Maybe someday, my hands will have a story to tell as well.

The Virtuous Wife
Proverbs 31:10-31

10 [a] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
(Tags & vaccines)
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar. (At least 50 miles)
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls. (The ranch hands)
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. (she plants a hay field)
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff (In her hand she hold the branding iron, and
grasps the calf bander with her fingers.)

and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (are clothed in Carhartts)
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (she is clothed in Denim and Polar fleece)
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, (at the water board meeting)
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes. (makes wild rags, and sells them)
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
(let her works bring her praise in the corral)

P.S. Please don't consider it blasphemy, the adaptations in blue are just to humor the soul.

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