A little more than two years ago when I told my friends in Michigan that my wife and I were moving to Boise, Idaho they said “Boise, Idaho! Why on earth do you want to move there? You want to get away from the cold weather.” The facts are that Boise’s winters are shorter and warmer than Michigan’s. Snow accumulation, if any, is only a few days and it melts away.
A week later if I happened see the same person they often inquired, “Now where in Iowa are you moving, Des Moines?” I quickly correct them. I don’t want ignorance to preside. The next thing you know textbooks in Michigan will be saying the main crop in Idaho is corn and in Iowa potatoes.
When first visiting Idaho a few years ago the natives proudly ask as if they wanted to sell the state, “What do you think of the scenery?” I replied, “Scenery! What scenery? You can’t see any. The mountains are in the way.”
Now, here for awhile, I’m becoming familiar with the demographics (that’s an out-of-state word). Many people who live here are not from Idaho. Many are from California. I have a theory why so many Californians move here: Somebody in California already had their vanity plates. Chances are if you see a vanity plate there’s a California connection.
When informing a native Idahoan I’m from out of state, quickly I add, “But not from California.”
Several years ago on a visit I rode in a pick-up truck with an Idaho rancher. He was showing me his 12,000 acre ranch. In Ohio, where I’m originally from, we call them townships. We traveled on a state highway that ran through his property. I asked him if he was worried about getting stopped by the police while drinking the beer tucked between his legs. He replied, “In the old days the cop would help me drink what was left of my six pack to get rid of the evidence. Now days they’d take me to court. Whose the judge gonna believe his poker playin’ drinkin’ buddy or some fresh faced deputy who earns less a year than I pay in taxes?”
A year ago in Boise a man stopped a robbery in progress. He pulled out his revolver and told the robber he was the police. The robber was held at gun point until the real police arrived. Now he is charged with impersonating a police officer. A few years ago he wouldn’t have had to buy a meal in any local restaurant for a month. Come to think about it a few more years ago the robber would not have been alive to testify. The police go undercover and impersonate a civilian why can’t a civilian impersonate a police officer?
Idahoans like many others who were born and raised in the West live with a dreadful fear that change is coming their way. It is the disappearance of a way of life. It is the way of life I heard mentioned by writer Baxter Black. He called it “the cowboy way.” It’s when a man’s word is his bond. He looks you in the eye, shakes your hand, and that’s it. Anything other than that pays the mortgage for a vacation house in Baja for some lawyer.
We all live in times of dreadful fear. The lines of right and wrong, morality and immorality, and ethics and situation ethics have clouded thinking and reason to the point where people are as uncertain about what makes us unique creatures as knowing the difference between Des Moines, Iowa and Boise Idaho.