Photography’s Fringe Benefits

MTGuy1-2

Profile-Picture-SmallIt’s not a revelation that a camera can bring all sorts of people together, but it is fun to look back on these chance meetings.

On a highway less traveled, about ten miles east of Roundup, MT, I passed a longhaired, bearded bicyclist. If he had been one of those “Tour de France”, helmeted, Spandex-clad types he would not have earned attention. But, here was this guy, chugging along with a homemade, 4-wheel trailer attached to the rear of his rickety 2-wheeler out in the middle of nowhere.

I pulled to the shoulder of the road, jumped out, and hastily took a photograph of him as he approached. Unlike most urban “folk”, he wasn’t bothered by the lens being aimed at him. Also unlike many urban dwellers, he put aside his itinerary to chat unhurriedly with a stranger. Our conversation flowed effortlessly as we told each other about ourselves. It was warm, late afternoon on a quiet road where the nearest ranch was off in the distance.

He proudly described, in detail, how he built the clever trailer he had attached to the bicycle. He said he lived in Roundup, but was staying way out here for a while with a friend, or maybe it was a relative. I don’t’ recall. He also told me about his dream of building a community where all the houses and stores would have wagon wheel windows . . . wagon wheel windows???

Since it’s been a dozen years since I met this “free spirit” on the rolling prairie of eastern Montana, I don’t recall why he encouraged me to stop to see his house in Roundup. Never the less, on my way out of town the next morning, I drove around the narrow, curbless streets in the S.W. part of Roundup until I found the house with the tractor in the front yard that he said would identify it.

He was a hoarder and a collector. (Who would have guessed?) But, his hoarding was not simply junk. Items were well organized into neat stacks and arranged so as to be able to navigate the collection. The back yard was a maze of trails defined by knee-high railings made of ¾ inch plumbing pipe. On the other side of the railings were sorted piles of colored glass insulators from electric poles, old hand tools, antique farm tools, and machinery.

True to his dream, his house and a two story workshop at the rear of the property had the wagon wheel windows he talked about.

MTGuy2-2

Brian DeWolf
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