Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Wild, Wild West

So, we're in Challis, Idaho (population 1,086), visiting Rayne's extended family. I feel like I should need a passport to be here; I could not fit in less if I tried. Every time I open my mouth I am acutely aware of my Yankee accent polluting the pristine air.

Go ahead and look it up on Google maps. Middle o' nowhere, folks. There is one main street off the highway, and you can almost picture what it looked like during the frontier days. There's the (non-ironic) saloon, the post office, the library (started by Rayne's grandmother), the pizzeria that was the General Store in the late 1800s, the gunsmith.... If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the ghost steps of men and horses who walked the road before you.

It's magnificent country out here: The mountains are majestic, the river is clean and the air is fresh. I keep saying to Henry, Breathe the fresh air, honey! He's breathing it without my instruction, but I suppose it can't hurt to encourage him to exhale the city pollutants that have surely begun to accumulate in his little lungs.
Challis, ID (crappy photo taken with my camera phone)

This evening as I walked back to our motel suite (which features a diorama of dead wildlife in one corner, a bear rug on the floor facing the sofa and a stuffed baby bear over the kitchen), I wondered if life here was actually less complicated. Would there be less parental angst raising a child in a town like this? Or would you simply trade the anxiety of your little boy getting hit by a bus for the anxiety of your little boy falling down a mine shaft? Both are probably equally unlikely. But I imagine that parenting is fraught and difficult, joyful and wonderous wherever you are.

Our motel suite.  I know you're jealous.

I certainly have not processed this experience enough to make any grand proclamations about city life versus country life. I don't think Challis is going to replace Denver as my fictitious panacea; nevertheless, it is a breathtakingly beautiful change of scenery. I might never fit in, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the adventure.

(Oh God. I just noticed a bull skull under the window. Was that here before?)