I have written again and again about the kindness of strangers. I was driving through Wyoming and my good friend Jenni wrote me to say her mother lives in Cheyenne and would be happy to help me in any way. I love Jenni, so to get the chance to meet her mother was definitely a priority. I contacted her mom, Betsy, a very savvy, text-friendly, talented, productive, classically trained pianist, music director and wonderful woman. I was going to be coming through in the morning and she said it was the last weekend of Frontier Days, Cheyenne’s yearly tribute to the American West, and she would be attending the town parade with some other family members and to please join them. Bonus!! Not only was I getting to meet Jenni’s mom, but her sister, brother and their families!
I found my way to Betsy’s darling home at 9am and was greeted so warmly, receiving hospitable kindness while meeting the family. We soon headed out on a short walk to main street to watch the parade. It was full of horses, pioneer wagons, bands, a native tribe float, old cars and various tiara laden females. Betsy pointed out a classic car that was like one she drove to school in, and she fed me interesting bits of Wyoming history, landscape, folklore, shared her love of marching bands and was an enthusiastic audience. My favorite was the huge longhorn bull being ridden by a cowboy. An amazing creature to see calmly clumping down the street.
We all trooped back to Betsy’s house for a refreshing glass of water and then piled into cars to go to Frontier Park for a buffalo burger at the Native American village exhibit. I was a buffalo-meat sceptic, but it really was no different tasting than lean beef. Betsy made me go out with the native dancers and do the Native American “friendship dance” and I was a good sport feeling absolutely silly. We wandered around the western exhibits, saw pioneers cooking like, well, the pioneers did with fire pits and cast iron pots and tools. There was a petting zoo with a baby camel, nothing to do with our heritage, but hey, I had never seen a baby camel so it made me happy!
It was just really nice to be in the presence of a family. They all took me in and made me feel at home. I didn’t feel like a burden. On the road, I miss my connections to home, my girls, my friends, so to connect with a family of a dear friend and see her face in theirs, catch their similarities of manner and speech and hear their history was quite a joy. Family dynamics are so unique and I loved being part of their circle for the morning, joking, laughing, learning, and respecting a woman who mothered and raised a beautiful brood of chicks.