It’s cowboy country in Central Oregon. Mountains surround wide open landscapes where you can see what weather’s coming from thirty miles away. There are roads filled with horse trailers, cattle movers, and pick ’em up trucks with chewing tobacco logos and buckaroo stickers.
And yet, I am home here. There’s a certain familiarity to the nuance of this more laid back lifestyle. We visit these areas at least twice a year. The countryside is beautiful, drier than the west side of the Cascade Mountain range. It has its own fragrance, juniper hints hit the air in the breezes.
There’s a cafe along the highway. Seating is limited and the food is good, so it’s cafeteria style. Joe Bob meets Clem meets Becky Sue. It’s all one. You share a table if need be. Most of the locals know each other. A new man who just moved to the region introduces himself to his table mate, sharing the trials of settling in and trying to get a deck built.
My husband Jim, and I have our own table. I observe while savoring French toast and bacon with my big friendly cup of coffee. Next to us sit five men who are enjoying breakfast together while sharing a staff meeting of sorts at the same time. Three white men, two Mexican sipping coffee while the conversation switches between business and casual. They pass reports around the table, scanning over projections and inventory.
At another table, some older men congregate, some sporting John Deere caps, others who still remember the manners of their times and set the well worn hats aside. These are ranchers. If I were painted blue they might kick me right to the highway. I am the dreaded liberal scourge, only I don’t feel like that. It’s other people’s labels that deter us from seeing people first instead of politics first. What I really feel is that too much government is bad just as much as too much big business is bad. Empathy gets me labeled a bleeding heart. I have no empathy for hardened criminals, but yes, I can totally understand Bruce Jenner. So I’m just me really in the end.
And I relish the time in this cafe, kibitzing with cowboys and the friendly waitress. People are people. No one should judge anyone based on one belief. I will come back to this local yokel cafe again, overhear the stories and imagine each group of people in their own reality show. Liberals and rednecks: all are welcome!