Not quite this Jane.
But not quite not this Jane.
Meet this Jane, all grown up.
Jane’s the protagonist of the mystery novel I’ve been writing at the end of each day when my other serious writing is done. Her name is a deliberate harkening back to the Jane of Dick and Jane fame. Because in addition to being the solver of the mystery, Jane is an elementary school teacher.
But not just an ordinary elementary teacher.
She teaches in a country school.
In northwest South Dakota.
Kinda like I did way back when.
Except Jane isn’t exactly like me. For one thing, she’s single when she moves from Iowa to cowboy country in 1978. Which means she’s much more interested in getting to know cowboys up close and personal than I ever was.
Also, she has curly hair.
Plus she’s quite independent for a 21-year-old, fresh out of college.
And she doesn’t mind getting her clothes dirty.
She speaks her mind, too, more than I did way back then. She says all the things I wanted to say but didn’t ’cause nice young ladies didn’t say that kind of thing in 1978. Especially nice young ladies who want to keep teaching school in a very small community where everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
Jane’s not always a nice young lady.
She pokes her nose into places she shouldn’t.
She window peeks.
She sneaks around in pastures populated by bulls.
Even so, Jane’s a fun friend. Sometimes, I pull her out of the messes she gets into. When we’re together, it’s like going out west again. The wide, empty horizon opens before up. We smell the fresh, short-grass prairie air. But without a 15 hour drive to get there. Or 55 miles of gravel on the last stretch of road. Or any need for me to get dirty. Because Jane takes care of those kinds of things. That’s part of what makes her so fun to be with.
Go out west, Jane.
Out west is fun, Jane.
Go, Jane. Go have fun!