Friday, June 02, 2006

Where We Want to Be

When I was a freshman in college, my parents and I took a trip out west. Partly to whet my father’s lifelong fascination with the Battle of the Little Bighorn and partly to explore my newly acquired obsession with the Plains Indians. So with my mother in tow, we made our way across Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

My parents and I fought bitterly at Mount Rushmore. Being young, impudent, impressionable, and having just finished reading Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, I refused to get out of the car. According to John Fire Lame Deer, Mount Rushmore "fits into our sacred Black Hills like a red-hot iron poker into somebody's eye…They could just as well have carved this mountain into a huge cavalry boot standing on a dead Indian."

I did ultimately get out of the car and I think there is a very cranky picture of all of us in front of the monument. When the trip was over, we had seen the Little Big Horn Battlefield,
Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, the Badlands, Devil's Tower, Rosebud Indian Reservation, Jackson Hole, and of course, Mount Rushmore.

My obsession with the Plains Indians evolved into a more manageable deep respect, but my love for Montana remained. I have a confession to make. When Jon and I first met, a part of me fell in love with the fact that he was from Montana before I fell in love with him. So when Jon and I drove out to his family’s ranch in Bridger, Montana in the summer of 2005, I was awestruck. Now there isn’t a whole lot going on in Bridger, but just a few miles outside of the sleepy town lies the 80 remaining acres of the Albrecht homestead nestled in a valley between the Beartooth and the Pryor mountains.

I have this image in my mind of a particular landscape. A very particular panorama of dry rolling hills viewed from the shade of a front porch. The feeling I associate with the image is comfort, contentment, and a general sense of well-being. I don’t know where the scene came from; perhaps a film, a photograph, or a dream. But although I may not know from whence it came, after visiting the ranch in Montana, I know just where to find it.

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