Tuesday, April 8, 2008

through thick and thin...

Some people, it seems, are just destined to be your friends. It's not always obvious why they should be, because they may not share the same philosophical, political or experiential differences, but you're joined somehow by a shared something.  It's very hard to define. 
This weekend we drove a couple of hundred miles to help an old friend pack up his stuff in preparation for a move 2,000 miles away, to the Oklahoma Territory. For the past ten years or so, he'd been raising sheep and breeding and training Border Collies on a few hundred acres of high desert land in the beautiful and wide open country east of the Cascades near Bend, Oregon.  Now he's planning on creating a hunting and fishing reserve on 300+ acres in south eastern Oklahoma, practically a world away from Oregon, and a universe away from where we met in San Francisco.  
So, we packed up the van, left instructions for Caitie and Matt covering the idiosyncratic feeding and exercise schedules for the animals, and headed east at a fine clip, only to come to a screeching halt mandated stop about an hour later, and 3,500 feet in elevation.  Due to inclement weather that required the use of traction devices,  Dave was forced to pull into one of the many conveniently located chain-up areas on the western flank of Mt. Hood and unpack the brand new, never-been-used tire chains from Les Schwab. (Meanwhile, giant luxury SUV's and jacked up 4 wheel drive pickup trucks full of weekend ski bums careened carefully maneuvered past, spraying dirty slush on our backs.) We tried to figure out the directions so thoughtfully printed on a vinyl mat meant to keep your knees dry when kneeling in the wet snow, but of course we didn't figure out the reason for the vinyl until after Dave got back in the van with soaking wet knees, his teeth chattering. In any event, I'm afraid I wasn't terribly helpful, aside from reading the directions to him in between recording the events for posterity (and blogging purposes, of course).
My hero eventually got the chains on properly and we continued our climb up and over the mountain, where we repeated the process in reverse. (This time I actually helped, managing to get the chains tangled around the axle a just tiny bit.) We made the rest of the trip almost without incident, getting lost only once (when I just happened to be at the wheel) but after driving only a few miles in the wrong direction, Dave insisted we stop to ask for directions at a friendly neighborhood Les Schwab dealer in Redmond. (Can you tell I'm a loyal customer?) And, yes we do know how to read maps, and certainly would have done so if someone hadn't stolen the Oregon map out of the car.
We eventually arrived at the ranch, albeit a few hours late, and after hugs all around, then downing a couple cups of coffee, we started in blowing dust off  admiring and carefully packing fragile antiques and irreplaceable collectibles, while our host also packed and orchestrated the whole process, all the while reminding us how valuable everything was.  (No pressure or anything!)  It was actually fun hanging out together again and catching up. After a few solid hours of packing and story-telling, the pile of boxes in the living room grew ever taller and the box of wine in the fridge grew emptier, and we gave up packing in favor of pizza and some mostly good-natured teasing about our respective political differences. He's a certified republican, gun owner, avid hunter, and opinionated member of the National Redneck Association, and I'm a bleeding heart, left-wing, opinionated New Deal democrat, and card carrying hippie. It's a testament to our level of tolerance and affection for each other that we could actually have any sort of political conversation at all, but even so, Dave spent a few tense minutes avoiding the controversy and trying to blend into the background by pretending to watch a fascinating Discovery channel documentary about Sasquatch on our host's big screen HD TV.  We ended the evening looking at websites and blogs (on his Apple macintosh...proof that he hasn't totally gone to the dark side), and comparing different website metering systems. All in all, an enlightening day.
The next morning, following a breakfast of quiche (I'm not kidding...I told you he's not a lost soul) and coffee,  we packed up a bunch more fragile collectibles. He collects the sharpest and heaviest stuff on the planet...knives, cleavers, hatchets, and about a ton (literally) of cast iron skillets and pots of every shape and size imaginable. He even gave me a couple of skillets. (I promise not to cook acid foods in them and to never ever clean them with soap!) After packing up the van with a few more gifts from his barn, sorting through his rock collection for some choice pieces he insisted we take for our garden, and hugs all around, we hit the road for home.  
The trip back over the pass was uneventful, and due to the heavy weekend ski traffic, the roads were clear and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.  When we got almost home,  we were greeted by a rather Disney-esque group of clouds. And I knew then that everything was as it should be.

1 comment:

foolery said...

My husband and I are in opposite political camps, but I like to think we are saved by his reticence (GOD -- certainly not by MINE) and my ability to hold almost diametrically-opposed opinions in my pea brain. I just try to bite my tongue a lot for the sake of a relationship that is far more important than some two-bit politician.

You ARE a good friend if you help someone pack their crap!