My relocation to northwest Montana is all Win Parker’s fault. She spent the better part of her young adulthood searching the country for the perfect place to live, described as: vast expanses of wilderness, abundant good friends, safe schools, healthy food, state-of-the-art social supports, job opportunities, and (of course) good restaurants and theater. She found it in northwest Montana and settled in Trego, where she and her husband started a family.
A few years later, her sister Jessica joined her and found a home in Whitefish. Last year, I realized the error of my ways and joined my two daughters. I abandoned Connecticut’s taxes, urban crime, welfare codependency, noise, pollution, and disrespect for personal rights and space for a wilderness cabin just south of the village of Eureka. I haven’t regretted it a moment.
Granted, I still describe my move as to another planet, and I believe the analogy will persist. Pepper spray is no longer needed, but bear spray is. The closest grocery store is six miles away, so I rarely “run out for milk.” Motorcycles never wake me, but I often hear the sound of feathers in flight. Winters are dark and summers sleepless. At 3,000 feet, I’ve had to adapt my cooking recipes and limit my exposure to the sun’s burning rays. The Jehovah’s Witness no longer ring my doorbell, but turkeys regularly march up my driveway. I don’t have a lawn mower because there are plenty of deer. Friends are super easy to make, and if I need someone with a technical skill, chances are they live down the street. I get eggs from my neighbor’s chickens and morning-fresh produce at the summer farmers’ markets. The home security system I relied on in Connecticut doesn’t service this area, and for good reason. Folks here work hard, but they always have time for each other. Barter is a parallel economy. The lakes are public access, the color of Caribbean waters, and melt the calluses on your feet. The mountains never move, reminding me of the constancy of life’s fundamentals. Sunsets are usually tame, compared to more polluted areas, but the night sky is breathtaking.
If there’s anything I miss, it’s New England weather. In Connecticut, I could watch an approaching storm, prepare for it, enjoy it, and then relax in the aftermath. In northwest Montana, we have mountains, and the weather is unpredictable.
That’s a small price to pay.