MEEKER | These introductions start immediately when newcomers are given the occasion to meet old timers. Often times they aren’t spoken aloud, they are implied. I don’t think it is meant to be a way of exclusion, but a way of educating the unwary about the importance of western traditions in these regions.
I am not sure why the terms “far west” or “up north” are not heard as often, as I have met so many folks throughout the energy boom and bust cycles our area experiences. Anyone who moves here soon discovers that western tradition still reigns. Meeker allows these introductions to happen daily, even after someone has lived here for a number of years.
These vague terms of location are not easily mapped. State lines are crossed, and regions become all important. I think traditions are often more visible during the annual celebrations such as our own Fourth of July celebration. While most families grow up where Independence Day is celebrated by family gatherings, picnics, and parades, the individual events always include floats and activities that reflect the area’s cultural traditions.
My first experience with Range Call reflected the newness of the western culture to me personally. While the parade matched my mid-western hometown with the marching bands, honored citizens, lots of children performing tricks with their animals, large machinery, and horse-drawn wagons, a closer look reflected specific details that I might have overlooked. Cowboy hats, denims and long-sleeved shirts were spotted more than hot weather garments, such as shorts and tank tops, and the theme of western hospitality was highlighted throughout.
I’d forgotten that during the Range Call Days I had enjoyed all these years, no one’s otherness clashed with the heavy dose of western culture. Visiting the epicenter of Back East living, New York City, this past week, I realized how much my perceptions of urban living and rural living had changed over the decades.
Friends here in the rural west continue to inquire how we feel safe and comfortable in such unfriendly environs. A few incidents this year led to me have a few stories about how no matter where you live, the good side of humanity does shine through.
A text message from a family member while we were traveling in the Big Apple alerted me to my lost credit card.
The message said something to the effect that someone had found my credit card on the Brooklyn Bridge walking path and wanted to return it. We were both sure it was a scam of some sort, even when I discovered the empty partially unzipped windbreaker pocket. The man who found it on a walk near his home in the city not only figured out how to make contact with me, but made arrangements for us to meet him fairly late at night at a city subway stop. When he refused a payment, I came back from this vacation pleased to find out that good people still live all over our country.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the HT