I've met a lot of interesting people since moving to this place in 2003.
None is quite as interesting as my friend Orville, though.
A gardener known for the biggest cabbages at the fair, a sculptor, a keeper of chickens, a World War II vet, a jokester: he is a man so satisfied with the beauty that every day life brings. He comes in to my office every few days and we update each other on our gardens in the summer, the garden catalogs that we've received in the winter and the progress of our indoor seedling starts in the spring. He gave me some cotton seeds that his son had sent him from Arizona earlier this year and encouraged me to plant them. His repeated description of their emergence (like a beautiful butterfly emerging from its cocoon and slowly spreading its wings) helps me remember to stop and enjoy everyday changes in the living things around me.
I finally got a tour of his home and garden on the outskirts of town. It is dotted with sculptures like these, mostly in the shape of dinosaurs and most of them with hose and sprinkler fittings on the tail and back. Ingenious!
His proudest sculpture though is of a World War II soldier. McCone County is home to a high proportion of WWII vets compared to the rest of the country. As Orville tells it, our neighbor Merlin helped to win the Atlantic theatre on the beaches of France. Orville helped to win the Pacific theatre. Just look in any history book. The sculpture is dedicated to his friend Merlin (still farming and join the coffee club every afternoon) and a friend who perished during the war.
We spent an hour wandering around his garden, looking at his handmade concrete and stone raised garden beds and the unique vegetables he was raising. I stole more than one cherry tomato from the vines.
The outside tour ended with a look at his prized chickens. Although they do lay eggs for Orville's kitchen, I got the impression they were more like friends than poultry.
Orville might be from a different generation or two than I am, but he's kept up with the times. I received a picture of myself posing near a sculpture before I left. It take me weeks to get hard copies of pictures. It took him five minutes.
I did not get a tour of the house, but took advantage of the brief time it took to print the picture to look around his office. This wall: pictures of a Circle, Montana gas station sign dating back to 2001. Scattered around the gas station pictures were memories from a life well-lived. I parted with Orville with promises to come back and explore those memories. Stay tuned this winter!