July 3, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 27

Montana: Home Of Really Big Lawnmowers

What we who live here consider ordinary in our day-to-day lives is seen from a totally different perspective by those who visit friends and family.

During harvest one year, a young man who lived in a large city visited us. One night, he called his girlfriend and I overheard him say, “They have the biggest lawnmowers here you ever saw!”

His description of a combine brought a smile as I thought to him harvesting the wheat probably did look like someone cutting a lawn.

A friend of mine, Rita, lived in Chicago. She called to say she wanted to come and visit us. She said she’d been curious for years about Montana and wanted to know what farm life was like. I told her she was most welcome. Two days later we met her train in Glasgow.

We still smile when we recall her visit.

The only extra space we had was in the basement. I’d partitioned off an area to use as a bedroom. Next to the bedroom were steps leading down to the root cellar. Over the years a crack had opened where the root cellar and basement adjoined.

One evening, Rita came running up the stairs a few moments after she’d said she was going to bed, yelling, “Help! Help! There’s an alligator on the floor by my bed!”

My husband replied, “Well, if it’s an alligator, I’m not going down there.”

But we went downstairs and picked up the mud puppy that had been looking for a dry place to sleep for a while.

We planned to take Rita to the Little Rockies south of Malta. But I had to post the month’s checks before we went. So she said she’d read the checks to me to help speed up the process. After she read off a few of them, she stopped. I asked her if there was a problem and she replied, “No. But I just realized your farm is a business.”

Looking at her I asked what she had thought it was. She said, “A farm.”

“But, Rita,” I replied, “Where did you think we got money to pay our bills? We have to pay for electricity, a phone, gas, repairs on the machinery, our food, our clothing.”

“I guess I didn’t think about that, about where you got your money,” she answered.

A friend of mine who lives in the Borough of Queens, New York City, called and said finally he was going to be able to come for a visit. He asked me if cell phones worked where I live and I told him, “Sometimes.”

Then he asked what if his rental car broke down. I told him to pull to the side of the road, turn off his engine, raise the hood, and wait. Someone would eventually come by and help him.

“But will they mug me?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “Given the distances here between towns, everyone helps everyone else.”

After we had supper the day he arrived, he described the last leg of his journey to our house. He said he’d gone quite a ways without seeing another vehicle. So he decided to pull off to the side, shut off his car, and step outside.

“I didn’t hear a thing,” he said.

I smiled thinking about how startling the quiet must have seemed to someone used to hearing heavy traffic and sirens 24 hours a day.

Sometimes it takes a person from a far different area to help us see and appreciate what we have. Too often we are so wrapped up in our daily lives we forget to drink in the beauty of our way of life and the area where we live.

Sandy Laumeyer is The Courier's Nashua correspondent.

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