One of my oldest friends is a Donald Trump supporter, but refuses to say more. I wonder why, since we’ve always been able to talk about everything else.
I met her when we moved to a farm in Northern Minnesota in the late ‘60s. We lived more than 20 miles apart, but our husbands worked at the same juvenile correction facility. When they became friends, we often got together on weekends, and I delighted in her unending sense of humor and wit.
Friends are important anywhere, but up there, with the lack of much outside stimulation or resources, they were even more important. With only two television channels available, and changing the channel meant going up on the roof to turn the antenna, it’s easy to see why we didn’t watch much TV. When the television set broke, we never missed it. The nearest town of any size was more than 50 miles away, so when we weren’t working, friends were our main source of entertainment.
She definitely was entertaining. She made me laugh more than anyone I’ve ever known. She could make pounding a nail or hanging out sheets funnier than any comedy sketch.
Neither of us was native to the area, but we’d learned the ways of the north very quickly. Along with raising three children, I took care of the livestock when my husband was gone, made hay, grew a huge garden, split wood and cooked on a wood-burning stove. I even made a pig trough out of oak boards, which the pig then destroyed in less than five minutes. She cut balsam boughs in the fall to sell to distributors, tore walls down in her house and built a hobby shop in their backyard.
During the summer, she planted pine trees with a county crew and at the end of one week, the supervisor told them to toss out the remaining 100-plus saplings. Instead, she brought them to our farm. She also brought wine. After a half a bottle of that, giggling in the rain and the dark, we found a couple of shovels and planted every one of those pine trees. Like our friendship, they’re still thriving.
One chilly November, she and her husband bought one of our fully-grown steers. Assuming the weather would stay cold, our husbands killed, gutted, skinned and quartered it before hanging it in their attic to age for a few weeks. Then, for their jobs, they left for a long trip to the Boundary Waters with a group of boys from the correctional facility.
Within two days the temperature rose to more than 70 degrees. She called the next morning and said, “What am I going to do? That meat’s going to rot up there in this heat.”
Knowing I had to stay home to do chores, I said, “Bring it over; we’ll cut it up and you can put it in your freezer.” I wasn’t yet aware of what I had committed to.
She had a neighbor help her load it in her truck, picked up loads of freezer wrap and tape, then headed to our farm. Meanwhile, I found my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook that had handy diagrams of all the cuts of meat and where they came from on a beef carcass.
We started cutting with knives and two hand saws before 9 a.m. By noon we’d cut, packaged and neatly labeled one quarter. As the day went on, and our arms and backs rebelled, the roasts got bigger and the names on the labels weren’t any I can repeat here. We finished at 11 p.m. Through it all, we seldom stopped laughing.
Another time, in the depth of winter when it felt warm if it got above minus 30, I called and told her I’d about had it with northern Minnesota and I needed a change. Within a couple of hours, she showed up with two gallons of paint, and almost by the time I had the furniture moved, she’d painted half the living room. Friends are like that.
Yet, we don’t understand one another in this Trump era. I can’t believe that my hard-working, compassionate, intelligent friend believes that a man who was raised in a mansion, lives in a three-story penthouse filled with gilded furniture and statues, who owns several estates, who had to ask one of his butlers if five personal butlers were too many, who made his living cheating people who worked for him and whose businesses claimed bankruptcy six times so he didn’t have to pay his workers or his bills has any interest in the lives of ordinary Americans.
It’s a good thing you don’t have to understand friends to love them anyway.