Guest blogger: Alissa Callen
The making of a country heart
Country life has a way of slipping into your psyche and holding you close so you never want to leave.
I’ve always lived far from the city fringe. I feel the safest when a night sky is lit by stars not streetlamps. I feel the most serene when silence is interrupted by cicadas and not sirens. I feel the most at home when surrounded by isolation instead of neighbours.
The eldest of seven children, I grew up chasing sheep on a family farm outside Tamworth. Summer days were spent catching yabbies in dams and wet winter afternoons riding through temporary creeks. There were also life lessons to learn. Droughts parch more than the earth. Bushfires burn more than windmill grass. And small communities are the heart of the bush.
Post-school, I lived in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado as an exchange student. Here my attachment to rural areas and small towns grew. Elk grazed in my front yard instead of kangaroos. Golden aspens shivered in the autumn air instead of evergreen gum trees. And while the accents might be different, everyone still knew each other’s names.
I returned home and went to a country university. Here I met my country boy. After time overseas experiencing English country life, I was married in a tiny, Virginia-creeper covered country church, near Uralla, NSW. Married life saw us head out west to Nyngan where my husband was the rural financial counsellor and I taught in tiny, one-teacher schools. On the edge of the outback there were no hills (only the levee bank around town) but there were endless sunsets, long river walks and strong community spirit.
When the first of our four children arrived, our needs changed, and we headed two hours east to the regional centre of Dubbo. We bought a small farm with a large country garden and here we have stayed. Our feather and fur kids include dogs, cows, horses, ponies, chickens and Pekin ducks. The mechanical horse power in the sheds only gets faster and noisier as motorbikes are outgrown and ute and tractor driving skills acquired.
My little farmers are now teenage farmers. Resilient, compassionate and hard working they represent the best of what growing up in the bush can offer. They will soon leave to spread their wings and I have no doubt they will return to the country life that is part of who they are and that we all love. A country life that I’m privileged to spend my days writing about.
Hold Me, Cowboy
Marietta home town girl Kendall Dixon knows who she is and what she wants, even if the stubborn and slow-smiling cowboy who owns her heart is long gone from Montana.
Rancher Brent Ashton returns to Marietta to care for his sick mother. Haunted by the death of his father, he is determined to save his derelict home and to resist rekindling the romance with the only girl he’s ever loved. He can’t let sacrifice her dreams for him.
But the shy and sweet Kendall he left behind has become a strong and determined woman. A woman who won’t let her cowboy walk away for a second time.