New Year’s Day, 1982 found me living in a 10 x 15 cabin 17 miles above Victor, Montana. There was no running water, no electricity and the heat was provided by a wood burning stove in the corner of the main room. Snow rose to the windows.
The bathroom was out the door and down the path. A squirrel had nested between the cealing and the beams, and he would toss nut shells at us as we attended our business. The insult was that we had given him the nuts in the first place. The only other building on the property was the barn — glorious, new, much bigger and in much better condition than the house.
The day dawned bright and clear. The thermometer rose to a whopping 37 degrees, a welcome change from subzero weather. We went outside in our shirt sleeves to split and haul more firewood before the next cold front. As we worked, a power truck rolled across the cattle guard and pulled up in front of the cabin.
A driver emerged, clipboard in hand, and asked where he could find our power meter. I told him we didn’t have one. He tapped his clipboard. “It says right here you do. I’ll just be looking for it if you don’t mind.” I shrugged my shoulders and told him to go right ahead. My companion suggested that if he found a power meter, he please tell us where.
We kept working. The power guy circled the house, the outhouse, and the barn. He came back and asked for permission to check inside the out buildings. I told him to help himself. He poked around in the barn a bit — even climbed the ladder and looked in the loft. I showed him the interior of our two room shack.
Finally, he walked the fence line and then returned to where we were working and pronounced, “You people don’t have electricity!”
Shortly after the power truck slid down the hill and out to the main road, a car that had no business climbing our drive in that kind of snow rolled in. We quit working and walked toward it. A young woman emerged. She said, “I am lost and I simply must use your facilities.” She walked straight to the house and opened the door without so much as a by-your-leave. My companion and I looked at each other in shock. I shrugged.
Seconds later she popped back out the door. “Where is your bathroom?” She demanded. My companion pointed toward the outhouse. The woman spun on her heal and marched toward it. The squirrel followed her, hopping from tree to tree. I turned to my companion. “Should we tell her?” He shook his head. “Nope.”
She opened the outhouse door as the squirrel scampered over the roof. We heard a loud chatter, a startled scream and the girl came running back up the path. “I don’t have to go that bad!” She yelled, then dove into her car. Just before she fishtailed down the drive, my companion yelled at her, “Turn left at the main road and go straight!”