Driving a tractor in high heels

October 4, 2008

This title is misleading.  I’ve never driven a tractor, in high heels or otherwise.  But I might! 

Like so many young people who grew up in a small town, after college I left home to explore the big wide world, assuming that other places would be infinitely more interesting than the Middle of Nowhere. 

And like so many before me, after I left, I realized just how incredible my hometown is, and eventually found my way back.

I now love the Middle of Nowhere with the passion that comes from leaving and coming back.  But there is much I need to learn about where I’m from.  I wouldn’t know an angus from a boa constrictor, except I’m pretty sure one of them doesn’t have any legs. 

I’ve worked hard to build a résumé and a wardrobe that is basically useless in my small hometown.  I’ve yet to find a call for a dental insurance bid writer (yes, that’s an actual job somewhere in the world), and every time I’ve tried wearing a pair of three-inch heels I’ve nearly broken my neck walking across a gravel parking lot. 

I grew up a small town kid, which is very different from a country kid, as my country cousins would be the first to confirm.  They loved getting me on a horse, then giving it a healthy slap on the hindquarters just to hear me scream and see how long it took for me to fall off. 

I’m more than satisfied to spend my life a small town girl, raising small town kids, eating at the same three restaurants and walking across the street to go to church. 

But after spending so long away from everything that I love, I have a yearning to connect with my rural roots.  It’s a little embarrassing to be a 5th generation ranch kid who doesn’t know the first thing about ranching. 

What’s more, I’m a mother now, and I want my son to understand and appreciate his heritage as a participant, not just a bystander from the nearby small town.

My family’s ranch is forty miles away, down a long unpaved road.  My country cousins have not the slightest use for a dental insurance bid writer or three-inch heels, but they seem to like me well enough anyway. 

I have jumped into the world of ranching with my usual gusto.  It won’t be long before I can write a dissertation on the history of swathing, which I’m sure will come in handy at some point. 

I look forward to learning the ins-and-outs of the life on a ranch.  My grandmother was always my hero, and she made it look easy.  (I’m getting the impression it’s actually not so much.)  

I’m going to start by taking cooking classes.  There’s a new place in town that’s trying to inject a little cosmopolitan into life on Main Street.  We’re going to learn how to prepare sushi!  I wonder how my cousins feel about raw fish? 

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus October 4, 2008.