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At Home on the Range or Behind a Book

May 10, 1999

I am in the midst of a monthlong sojourn to the deserts of Southern California, and it seems as if every time I pick up a newspaper, I'm reading about Sara Davidson and "her cowboy" ("Love on the Range," by Pamela Warrick, March 22). The articles give the impression that cowboys are semiliterate studs just waiting to be civilized by a fair maiden. Studs we are; illiterate we're not.

I hang my hat in western Montana, and the people I work with are well-read and well-traveled. My bookshelf not only holds books on horsemanship, but also the works of Steinbeck and Nabokov.

Being a cowboy is a lifestyle choice. Whether shoeing horses, cutting hay or flipping hot cakes, it's by choice, not by lack of education, that we live the cowboy life. I certainly wouldn't trade my cabin for an L.A. condo or swap my pickup truck for a Mercedes SUV. If you have a Montecito estate, a lodge at Vail and a European villa, you might lure me away for the winter. But when summer arrives, I'm putting on my boots and heading for Big Sky country.

STEVE COHEN

Greenough, Mont.

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