Like my fellow Montana Women Writers, I am fortunate to live in western Montana where the air is crystal clear (unless our forests are flaming), the skies blue (unless it’s winter when sun grows rare), and quiet, in my neck of the woods, but for country sounds of neighing horses, crowing roosters, and (sigh) our yapping Cairn Terriers, Oz and Ruby.
Today, as I look north from my office, I view Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort, its runs green instead of snow-covered. The aspens at the end of our property (or are they birch?) sport quaking leaves that almost block our view of the many trains that pass by during the day, often shipping empty tank cars to North Dakota where oil from the Bakken fills them before they return to the west coast.
Whitefish, Montana is a train town, first and foremost, a small community tied together for over a century by the railroad, the ski hill, spectacular outdoor areas like Glacier National Park, and tight bonds forged through kids, jobs, and love for this, The Last Best Place.
In this photo you see our hayfield, recently cut by a dear friend we’ve known for 30 years. He’s a Harvard man, of all things, a transplant to our area from Seattle, where he worked for many years. Like my spouse and I, one day he and his wife walked away from city life, from the insanity of 70-hour work-weeks, endless traffic, and lines formed to obtain everything, from a driver’s license to a cup of coffee.
“Harvard” and his wife settled here, bought some land, and built a farm. They sell eggs at our local farmers’ market, wear Carharts instead of designer jeans, and thank the Universe every day for the peace and joy of living in this idyllic spot.
I thank the Universe for their friendship, and not just because Harvard uses his John Deere tractor to hay our field every summer. I treasure our three decades of shared history, of our babies now grown into young men and women, some married, others working through college and new careers. Over wine or tea, our collective memories let us laugh at punch lines to jokes we no longer remember, and smile from tales repeated far too often, yet entertain us even now.
The beauty among old friends is that we get each other. We don’t have to explain. A sigh or a lone tear usually conveys exactly what we’re feeling. A hug and a laugh heal whatever heartache ails us. These dear, wonderful souls, who have shared most of our adult lives, I cherish.
And, yeah, I’ve got to admit, Harvard’s John Deere is sweet!