Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Good Company

An invitation to a birthday party for a friend this past weekend took my wife and I to a remote location out on the South Dakota prairie. I always find a certain comfort in wide open spaces. As much as I enjoy being surrounded by the dense Pine trees and steep canyon walls of my favorite Black Hills hangouts, there's still something I really like about being able to see for miles and miles in any direction. It was late afternoon when I turned off the two lane blacktop and continued on the gravel road that passed through a few lonely isolated stands of trees, a meandering river, and a mix of fenced pasture and open range. With a nod to the Mamas and Papas - I even "stopped into a church I passed along the way."
The door was open so I went inside. Light from the setting sun provided just enough illumination to light up the colors in the faded stained glass windows. This brief visit to a little country church could have been enough to make the trip worth it, but there would be so much more.

A few other guests were already there when we arrived. We were greeted warmly by those we knew and introductions were made to those we didn't. Wine and conversation flowed. It was a scene right out of A Prairie Home Companion as we mingled and talked in the kitchen with the smell of cornmeal stuffing drifting from the stove top. The last of the guests arrived and the group separated, with the men moving into the living room where the talk turned to gophers and groundhogs, coyotes and rabbits, and interpretations of a 150 year old original oil painting on the wall. You know, the stuff menfolk talk about. That may seem like a bit of a cliche...men in the living room on the couch and in the comfy chairs, and the womenfolk in the kitchen talking about whatever it is women talk about in the kitchen. Some might say it was even a little politically incorrect. But those people were not in attendance that evening, and no one who was there would have considered that possibility. 
Eventually we were all called to the table and the conversation continued. Everyone contributed, and nearly everybody had a story to tell. Stories like one about another birthday long ago in another time and place when a cake was delivered by carrying it while riding on a motorcycle across rough terrain where there was no road. Both her and the cake survived the trip. (And, yes, I said "her").  Or the one about a well mannered sheep. It was a great time. The hosts were wonderful, and the guests were all good, decent people who care about family and friends. Even new friends like us. I could just tell. There was also a sense of humility around that table in spite of the fact that there was so much talent present. Artists, musicians and writers. People who work with their hands and people who work with their minds. Caretakers of the land and caretakers of family...both of which also require a tremendous amount of talent. 
There is one other thing worth noting - none of the conversation was about politics. Or the economy. Those subjects never came up. And that was nice. The entire evening was nice. So nice that if there would have been a campfire we would all have been sitting around it.

Roger O'Dea      10/25/2016

No comments:

Post a Comment