How far away from town do I want to live? 1876. Okay, I guess that’s not possible, so I’ll settle for an hour and a half. Or, in Eastern Oregon driving directions “Three beers and turn left.”
I always get to thinkin’ that the 1800s would have been the ideal time period. No cell phones (I have a current fantasy of throwing mine into a creek), no fences (I want to be able to ride as far as I can see), no zoning restrictions or building codes (I’m not much with a hammer and nails, but it just seems nice to be able to build things at will), and no Wal-Mart. There is the flip side, of course: people died of the flu, women had no pain meds during childbirth, fresh fruit in the off season just didn’t exist for the common person, and a ripe old age was 42.
I guess people in the 1800s didn’t spend all their time sitting around campfires playing the fiddle and scraping together $2.50 to buy Ma a new bolt of fabric for Christmas. She probably then had to make the entire family a year’s worth of clothing from the fabric. I secretly like the thought that it took all day to make the twenty-mile journey to town to buy the fabric, though. Ahorseback is my favorite mode of transporation. Trotting away from the barn in the morning is the best part of the day, with trotting back to the barn in the afternoon a close second. All the trotting that occurs in between is pretty sweet, too.
Living far from town where trotting lots of miles is a necessity and not a weekend trail ride, a person sure learns to be independent. What do you do with no cell service? You learn to think and solve your own dang problems. You get good, clear directions before you are dropped off on your circle. You sit and think a spell, a rare and antiquated pasttime in today’s info-in-an-instant world of high-speed Internet, OnStar roadside assistance, and GPS systems that tell you where to turn. Just to be a rebel, I tape a map to my dashboard and figure out my own route. I’m frequently lost, but that’s okay. I have plenty of Ian Tyson CD’s and I’m not afraid to put ’em on repeat.
Yeesh, I keep sitting down to write something quiet and contemplative, reflect on the rural ranching lifestyle, then find myself on a tirade against technology. Yet here I am, typing my thoughts to the world wide web, hoping people will read and relate and thus advance my writing career. Maybe that’s why I’m out of sorts: I like being isolated and far from town, but to survive in today’s world, we have to be connected and up-to-speed with technology. Okay, I’ll go with it for a while, but as soon as I get established for a while someplace and have a landline, that cell phone is going into the creek.