Cliff isn't especially fond of travel. One reason he cites is that, since I don't drive, he doesn't get a break from the monotony of keeping the car sailing smoothly along the Interstates.
Several years ago we'd been to a huge tractor show at Rollag, Minnesota. Heading home, Cliff mentioned how he was dreading our return trip, and I got an idea.
"I bought a book at the show," I reminded him. 'Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them'. How about if I read it to you while we're on the way home?"
Little did I know I had discovered a miracle cure for boredom on the road, for both of us.
So these days, the first thing I look for at garage sales is the table piled with twenty-five-cent paperbacks. John Grisham and James Patterson books are particular favorites We enjoy Sue Grafton occasionally, too... the lady who names her books in alphabetical order, and isn't obsessed with romance.
I steer away from love stories, so that eliminates most garage-sale books. After all, I'm reading for a man, and what man is going to enjoy a sappy old romance? Besides, they're all so predictable. I can read the first chapter, watch for a man and woman who can't stand each other, and know they will fall in love by the end of the story.
We were heading home from Colorado in July, and I was reading a book I'd purchased on our train ride... "The History of the Durango-Silverton Railroad". It had some interesting facts, but it was obviously putting Cliff to sleep: not a good thing to happen to one's chauffeur.
I had tossed a book in at home, at the beginning of our trip, with the intentions of having something to read for myself, evenings in the motel. It was obviously a "women's book", a love story. But it was all I had at the time.
I explained to Cliff he'd probably hate it and so would I, but he needed to wake up, and I didn't have anything else to read.
The book is Nora Roberts' "Montana Sky", from 1997.
As I expected, the romance part of the book was predictable: Cliff and I figured out, early on, what man each of three sisters would end up with.
To my surprise, though, the story has held our attention. Ms. Roberts does a good job of painting a personality, and sprinkles lots of laughs throughout the book. And Cliff seems to enjoy the spicy love scenes scattered throughout the story, maybe a little too much!
The author has given us a couple of laughs I'm sure she has no idea about, but they certainly brought down the house (or car?) for us country bumpkins. I'll give a couple of examples.
One of the city sisters, forced to spend a year on a Montana ranch, has been given the job of gathering eggs in the hen-house. And where is she finding the eggs? On the roost! Cliff and I found this so hilarious, because we figured anybody would know that the roost is where the hens "roost" at night. It's where they perch, something the size of a small branch or maybe a rake-handle, that their toes can curl around. So we pictured a hen trying to balance an egg on something like that. Oh, and usually there is at least two inches of chicken-poop under the roost. Come on, Nora... they lay eggs in their NESTS!!!
Example number two: There's a villain in the story mutilating cats, cattle, and even a human. Now this is a ranch we're talking about, not a little homestead where the cattle are pets. The man selects a steer for mutilating; he lures it with a bucket of feed; he puts a halter on it; and he leads it to the location of his choosing.
First, no steer on a ranch is going to walk up to anyone, I don't care how much feed they have. Second, even if he did, the minute you moved toward him with a halter, he'd be gone. Third, if by some miracle you did get a halter on him, his first reaction would be to pull against it, and you'd better hang on for dear life.
Well, at least the story has held our interest. We're over three-quarters through it... maybe in another couple of months we'll actually finish it, although it's slow going when the only place you travel is to the grocery store.