I thought of that Mark Twain quote the other day when I came upon this long-abandoned schoolhouse while exploring for sharptails. With Edo curled up next to me I sat with my back against the cracked white paint of the schoolhouse wall, grateful for the weak winter sun, and sheltered from the gusting wind, while I enjoyed a lunch of Honeycrisp apple, Vermont cheddar and Park Avenue Bakery baguette, along with a few pieces of the jerky I made from last year’s moose. To the northeast I could see the Missouri River Breaks and, beyond that, the Bear’s Paw Mountains. To the south, a landscape of wheat stubble broken by brushy coulees ended in the foothills of the Highwood Mountains. Here and there, small stands of non-native trees marked a farmstead (or, more often, an abandoned homestead.) I thought of what this landscape might have felt like in 1918, the height of the homestead boom in this part of Montana, and what life might have been like for a farm kid in this school. Would he or she have been diligent about the Three Rs, or distracted by the wide open landscape? Would he or she have seen a life full of unfettered possibilities, or felt resigned to a life of drudgery? Even if the families of those kids of a century ago gave up the harsh life of dryland wheat farming and moved to cities and towns (as the majority of them eventually did), I would like to think that all took with them the lessons learned in this harsh, wide open country, where a person feels small and powerless one moment, indescribably exhilarated the next.