I grew up in Two Dot and spent a lot of time on my sister’s ranch out of Ismay.
In the ranching world over there, they use the word “neighbor” like a verb, as in “Who do you neighbor with?” These were the folks who you routinely helped, and who helped you, with things like branding, shipping and sick cattle.
There was no contract, there was no “mandate.” It simply meant rising at 3 a.m. periodically to saddle the horses, load them in the trailer, and get to the neighbor’s place well before daylight because you never wanted to be “late.”
And you know what? No one ever once said in all those years that any of this was infringing on their rights. In my book, these are the sorts of fundamental Montana values that are the bedrock of our state. They couldn’t have less to do with politics.
These days, I am “neighboring” by staying home. Yep, I wear a mask when I go to the grocery store. I don’t glare at the folks who don’t, although honestly, I wish they would. The sad thing to me, is that just like on the ranch sometimes, we are headed for what might be called a wreck.
So, come on Ravalli County, saddle up. Take care of your neighbors. You don’t have to do it because someone said you have to; you can just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
— Sarah Baxter, Hamilton