As I learn to navigate this amazing place called, ‘my blog’. I ask you dear reader to forgive me if I stumble. I am trying to share my adventure arriving in Montana to begin my journey as a writer. Although I’ve written all my life, it never occurred to me, anyone but me would want to read my thoughts and share in my experiences. I sincerely thank you for taking time to do just that. I have begun Chapter One below (Oh I do so hope it is below!) Posted on this 12th day of January 2014.
You may want to get a hot cup of tea before you begin. I invite you to also read another selection of poetry and a photograph of the swings you will read about in this chapter. I could have swung on them for hours – and almost did!
Thank you, thank you again and again for coming by.
Breathe Deep, Think Peace
As soon as you inhale, you know you are somewhere special. I had walked in to a bustling internationally known air port in New York. Then in a matter of hours walked out of a sleepy little international air port in Montana!
I might as well have transported to an undiscovered land in a science fiction story. The air was actually sweet smelling. Fewer cars emissions perhaps? More trees, more space! Everything was cleaner, brighter, BIGGER. The term Big Sky is definitely appropriate to describe this beautiful section of earth. Mountain ranges surrounded the view. You could easily see where the ski lifts climbed the side of the mountain range looking straight down main street in Whitefish. The shops on either side of the street were lined with raised wooden sidewalks and something like a continuous awning over your head. So smart, you didn’t have to worry about the rain or the snow, you were protected from the elements almost as soon as you stepped out of your car.
The smell of burgers on the grill filled my nostrils. Sweet onions followed and I found my mouth watering. As tempted as I was to search for those smells, the choice was not up to me. A fellow sister in words Haven guest and I had emailed back and forth before the event even began. She was driving by herself from Billings and said she’d pick me up – stop for lunch then head to the Walking Lightly Ranch. Parking spots were plentiful and were wonderfully missing meters. Looking at the passing car license plates was fun, usually I see the same three: CT, NJ, NY occasionally MA, and surprisingly a lot from FL. Well, New York is where many the snow birds go in the summer time. Yet here I was looking at Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota . I thought it was amazing, my companion watched me and smiled. She suggested a restaurant we could feast on the roof while soaking in the sun and the view.
A train slowly groaned past, a rhythmic glunk clank counted the pace of each car. You could not help but be thrown back into the time of the wild west. I was looking at the same mountains pioneers came walking across the country on foot, in wagons and on horseback. I was looking at the same mountains Native Americans called home. Hunting elk, moose and dear, fishing in the icy cold waters and living off an abundance of land. I was looking at a million acres of pristine foliage hiding several species of wild life, including cougars and bear. It was indeed as overwhelming to me as one who steps off a train and into Grand Central Station. Ha! But I actually felt safer! I knew who to be afraid of out here!
My companion kept up easy chatter. I liked her as soon as I met her. We shared notes as it were, of our lives, where we lived, how many children, how many years we’ve been married and how sometimes we think of what it would be like to not be married any more. To do what we want to do ALL the time. But we love our families, and our lives too much to “selfishly” walk away.
The food we ordered arrived and hunger over took conversation. The meat was delicious and satisfying, the salad greens were fresh from a garden, not a pre washed bag. Tomatoes popped in your mouth – so juicy you had to be careful not to squirt across the table. Roasted red potatoes crisp on the outside, soft and comforting on the inside. I swear sometimes I think I missed my calling. I would have liked to have tried to be a food critic. Or maybe a taste taster! Can you make a living tasting? Hmmm. Or maybe Yummmm is better description of the profession!
After our meal we decided to explore the town a bit, which meant driving down main street heading west, then turning around at the end and heading east. I instantly fell in love with it. Then we decided to head to the ranch. It was on the ride there I expressed how grateful I was for the ride. It was farther from town than I could tell on Google map. It was also more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The sky was a blue you see in a crayon box. Every where you looked was a picture postcard. Horses and barns scattered in the pastures gave a little house on the prairie feel, and I wondered if I could have raised my children in the wilderness. The roads would go for what seemed like a runway straight mile, then turn so sharply you almost turned around completely before winding around clusters of tall trees to yet another runway and more curves way up ahead. I would have never been able to find the ranch by myself.
A homemade sign waited for us to find it beside a driveway and we knew we were almost there. The driveway would have been called a nature path at home – you could see where truck wheels pounded the gravel into two ribbons, but grass and larger stones outlined the edge. The compact car complained a little as its chasiss creaked at the odd positions the rocks insisted they go.
After a few minutes we spotted the first building, an extra guest lodge, then the owners of the ranch, who squinted his eyes to see if he knew us, deciding he didn’t, he still raised an arm in red plaid to wave a welcome. We continued past a small corral with several horses who also looked up – saw quickly we were not any one they knew, and went back to grazing.
Finally we saw the ranch house, there were the two swings hanging from the massive trees right outside the front door I saw online. They whispered “Come and play…” We were the first to arrive. After getting out of the car, stretching and getting lost just looking at the lake and surrounding land a voice called to welcome us. David was a ranch hand for lack of a better word. He was tall and handsome and invited us to find our rooms and take a look around.
The two of us acted like children, running from room to room,” Look at this! Look at that! Wow a footed bath tub on the second floor, a small library too! Look at this view! Check out this garden right outside the screened in porch!” Finding my room I put my bags inside and settled my belongings. The down comforter beckoned me to come lay down but I could hear other voices and wanted to meet my sisters in words.
There were hello’s and hugs from many of the ladies, we were instantly connected in this place called Haven. Once everyone was there Laura suddenly appeared. She went to each person, looking you in the eye, smiling so brightly you knew she was an old soul and you just knew her before you knew her! She gave each person a BIG hug and as I felt her warmth she whispered how glad she was that I was there. For you see dear reader, one thing I did not share with you was the panic attack I had the night before I was to begin this journey. Several years before these dreaded beasts would attack and cripple me. Cause me not to be able to leave my home, participate in things I had always loved to do. Keeping me in the bathroom retching from north and south of my navel.
For a long while I needed help in the form of a pill, just to take the edge off, just so I could function, but function in a blurr. I hated it. Yet without medical insurance there was no prescriptions for me now. No magic pill and for the first time in fifteen years I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t limping. I wanted to come to Montana and I wasn’t going to let the beast stop me. Yep, I had talked myself all the way from June to September that I didn’t need the jagged little pill; until the night before, until it was too late and I sat on the porcelain thrown crying, burning up with a mysterious fever, feeling my stomach turn over and over again.
My daughter came with a wet washcloth and put in on my head. She sat outside the bathroom in the hallway and talked to me. At one point when I couldn’t stop crying between barfing I told her to call Laura and tell her I was sick and could not attend. My daughter, almost a doctor daughter, a doctor in psychology daughter ( in the near future) kept a calm voice and said, “The pain is in your stomach, not in your head. This pain will pass and you will be fine. Let it pass.” It was a simple instruction. Let it pass. I don’t know why the beast was frightened of these words. But it was, and slowly, slowly the beast sank away into its hole.
I began to feel better. Still weak from all the vomiting, but I was beginning to feel normal. Sleep was fitful more than restful but, SO much better than when sleep would leave and I was up for hours walking around the house, trying to be quiet not to wake the rest of the house, but walking, watching tv, walking again through the entire night.
The beast was gone and I was in the wilderness of Montana. Now, where is my pen?
p.s. I would be remiss if I did not take this time to invite you to go see Laura’s website for yourself. Take a peek at Haven Writing Retreat Whitefish Montana Laura Munson. Tell her I said, “Hello my sister in Words!”