People say the same things differently depending on what part of the country they call home, like how soda can be pop, dinner can be supper and pants can be britches.

Montana is no different, and when I arrived fresh from the mountains of Virginia I had to learn the local lingo.

Creek is crick, the Bear’s Paw are the Bear Paws, Havre is Haver, and it’s not a costume, it’s regalia.

Then there were statements that struck me as odd.

Like this one my father-in-law said one summer when we were moving equipment for a project: I see him coming in the tractor. He’s only a mile behind us.

This was like saying you had x-ray vision in my mind, because you can’t see more than a few yards at a time on the twisty-turny, tree-lined roads where I grew up.

On a dirt, rod-straight road in the Montana countryside, though, you can see for miles and miles.

But a neighbor’s comment the other day speaks to the cultural differences between different parts of the country.

I can never see what your wife’s up to because she keeps her curtains closed, the neighbor told my husband.

At first I was creeped out. I mean, who says that?

Coming from a subdivision in a city and a house that didn’t have a front porch, we rarely interacted with our neighbors more than exchanging pleasantries. When my mom came to visit she admonished me, saying I wouldn’t know if my neighbors were dead.

Now, we actually live farther away from other houses, but we routinely interact with our neighbors in meaningful ways.  (I use the term neighbors loosely to indicate the entire town.)

The more I think about it, the more I’m okay with what the neighbor said about our curtains. It’s actually reassuring to know that neighbors are interested in what we’re doing, and more importantly, how we’re doing.




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