local to local
Daily observations at or near Two Dot Spot, written by hand on the backs of postcards that record with ink and coffee a few minutes of the earth's orbit around the sun. The cards are physically mailed from Two Dot, Montana to those who have requested them...local to local. Ruth Marie Tomlinson
Persied Meteor Shower played out its fireworks in front of us while lightning continued to sheet across the Little Belts to the north of us as a side stage. We called out to each other, cheering at each amazing tracer that refused to dim and reluctantly went in when our eyes refused to say open.
4am brought in the storm. Lightning, sheet mostly, and thunder. Yowling wind. We closed most of the windows and lay in each others arms, not from fear, but to witness the storm together. Still sleepy, my eyes would close themselves only to be flashed back open with total room white light blasts. Sometimes the deep boom followed, sometimes not… the storm covering near and far.
Melissa Kwasny may have stated the obvious in her essay The Imaginary Book of Cave Paintings. “To be human is to understand that one comes after those who came before.” But the obvious is not always simplistic. She extensively explores the marks left by ancient peoples and ends with a reminder that regardless what we leave behind, our individual sojourn is finite; something I am thinking about in my newly minted 59th year. But Kwasny spins this inevitability with a different conclusion. We will be joining all those who have proceeded us by become earth...dirt. The very land that I am wrestling to know is what I will become.
Bill’s Place in Melville. Bill and his wife recently took over the diner and are serving up delicious fare in the middle of what many would call nowhere. Afterwards, John and I took the back road from Melville to Two Dot. Beyond the Diner which also houses the post office, down a tree lined road Melville has a school, a church, a cemetery, and some nameless mostly empty buildings that are the remnants found in many rural Montana towns. There are cattails and sandhill cranes, cows and pronghorns along the side of the road. The jagged peaks of the Crazies are not too far in the background. Melville looks abandon, but I know better. Two Dot often looks abandon too, but throw a party and the town will be packed. Bill invited us back for 2nd Saturday BBQ and music when 150 people have been known to crowd into his little place. No doubt, we’re going to go.
Bonanza Creek Ranch last night having dinner with a book group. They'd invited the author of a murder mystery titled Ride the Jawbone. It was a privilege to be included as we are not part of the book club and these are people who easily call themselves local. Jim Moore, who wrote the book, is from the oldest family of settlers in the area. The Voldseths, who were our hosts, are also one of the oldest families. Regardless, we were made more than welcome. We may never be truly local, but I've come to understand that does not mean we will be excluded.
West of 98 writing about age… of growing old. She uses the end of a Montana summer as loose metaphor. “The change of light tells us winter is coming, but summer’s fruitful end is now.” It is the end of summer and it is fruitful, nothing to shed tears for.
a soon-to-be bride. Alicia encouraged Audun to play outside with the colony kids. I watched him from the window. Audun, with his chin in his fists sat on the front stoop faced with a bevy of little girls dressed and hovering like starlings. They stared and said little, just flitting around in a flock. Behind them, a few bigger boys road identical homemade scooters up and down the sidewalk. Audun sat firm until finally he skirted around the girls in a sprint and took off down the sidewalk toward the boys. Alicia asked the girls to watch out for him, but when he finally found us later his eyes were red and teary. He stomped his foot and said, “I don’t need watching, not by girls!” Was he playing out an old cultural childhood separation of boys and girls or reacting to the radical difference in gender rolls in the Hutterite community?
Ed Kemmick is a writer for the Billings Gazette. He was seduced to Montana from the midwest by A.B. Guthrie’s novel Big Sky. Last week my cousin Shane Moe told me that Big Sky is his favorite western novel as well. The book describes relationships between men and land and while I suspect Guthrie was not referring to mankind in the broad sense, I think it may be true that men and women’s relationships to land are what the west is about. Guthrie wrote about the land in the words of his character Jim Deakins, …what did it care about a man or his hankerings or what happened to him? There would be other men after him and others after them, all wondering and all wishful and after a while all dead. I don't think this is about hopelessness; it is about the place we each hold in the larger picture. And it reminds us that it is the land that remains.