Sometimes it’s easy to take it all for granted, the place in which we find ourselves, the people that surround us, the bliss that is ours to grasp. As I sat on my deck the other evening mesmerized by the changing big sky giving way to a grand finale of the sunset, I experienced one of those moments of extreme clarity and gratitude for the place in which I find myself. It had been an amazing weekend of exploring new places, walking along a river and later into the mountains with those I love and surrounded by alternating blue sky as vast as can be imagined and thunderstorms building and breaking apart. I was lucky enough to find a huge clump of bison fur on a private ranch and a beautiful small piece of obsidian along a trail, to enjoy the tiniest wildflower and the mountain that held it. I realized, as I stood surrounded by all this beauty that even after being here for 20+ years, I can never take enough pictures, never find a lens wide enough to capture it all. It’s still as inspiring and breath taking and fulfilling as it was when I first moved here.
How could it get better you may ask. If the landscape is the fabric of Montana, the people are most certainly the tread that binds it together. I am lucky to have a job that takes me out into the folds of the state, down the dirt roads, into the small towns, and onto the ranches, large and small. Meeting with people that gauge their devotion to the land in generations, who talk about water and cattle and rattlesnakes before deciding where to put the wedding tent. Enjoying a burger at the local bar with a beer sent over from the rancher down at the end just because I drove out to help with Hank’s daughter’s wedding. Chatting with the bartender about horses and elk and the dog sleeping in the middle of the doorway…just where he sleeps, most people don’t seem to mind. They are people who stand up for each other and tell you what they think, even if it’s not what you want to hear. And when someone walks in and announces there’s a nice sunset, everyone steps out, beer in hand to take a look, because no matter how long you’ve been here, you can never see enough Montana sunsets.