Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25, 4 p.m., Hingham, Montana

Today’s trip took us by a series of little towns 6 to 20 miles apart - along the railroad - each with its tallest building - a grain elevator. Commerce is king, and wheat is commerce. They stand out as green islands on the prairie from afar. Our eyes go to them, seeking change. We are far enough into the plains to have a constant need to escape the same video. These towns have gravel streets and always a railroad crossing into the neighborhoods. The houses are small and tight against the cold. No high open porches and big glass expanses. This is serious winter weather country. The trees crowd the houses, few taller - and all are bent by the winds, like those along the gulf but without the moss. The bloom is off these little towns. Stores are unoccupied. Nothing new is in evidence. I’m told, “The kids are leaving. People are putting their farms in the WRI Program. The population is aging.” Passed a church with a hearse outside, a limousine and maybe four cars. Started to stop since it looked poorly attended. Maybe all the deceased’s friends have died or moved off. Seemed a sad situation but not so much for the deceased because just down the road we passed the cemetery. A fine high spot. Many other precedents in place already with wind-resistant plastic bouquets. The grave was lined with green velvet but had no green velvet chairs suggesting the absence of family, a possible very sad situation. The dirt from the grave was piled nicely in an old 1960 Ford dump truck - a little too close for my taste - and the backhoe used to dig the grave, likewise. Overall, there seemed to be a lack of sensitivity to those who might be attending the funeral that have a fear of suffocation, them seeing the actual dirt that is going in on top of that coffin after the words are said. Wasn’t creepy, but it was close. We were blowing by pretty fast so all of my impressions had to be quick and easy ones. It was a Lutheran Church, I think, but Garrison Keeler was not there. The wind does blow a lot here and did blow us. We covered 75 miles today without pedaling. One could make a case for a just God from this information alone if so inclined and bad at statistics.

Our camp is in the city park in Hingham under the water tower. We have a water hose for washing places that need washing, a toilet, a picnic table, deep lush green grass and enough wind to tear your hair out by the follicles. Two of the Bellingham 7 left after their tents started to shred. They will be in Maine by the morning with this as a tailwind. We’ll see if the other tents hold. The wind should be as noisy tonight as the trains have been.

Dave decided to make a change tonight - and for supper, to cook beans and rice and cheese instead of beans and rice and cheese.

This area gets 15 inches of rain a year, and everybody grows wheat. They can get outside three months out of the year without death by climate. Sometimes, even for the uninitiated, it is hard to understand the choices people make. Two ladies at the courthouse told me, “great place to live, good hard-working people, no crime.” They couldn’t remember who won the county in the presidential election “even though we count the votes.” Some things aren’t important.

Pat Sewell

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