The Return to Montana

As I write this I am listening to “Pale September” by Fiona Apple, this mixed with other female vocalists have been the sounds of this summer. I think that is important because music often moves us and makes us feel differently, more or less. (I suggest listening to it now, maybe you’ll feel what I am feeling as I write this).

What is the purpose of writing all this down? I am sure of only one thing, its not only for the reader necessarily, but maybe just for me. Maybe the purpose is to spin yet another fine web and send it off into the universe. Perhaps this writing will reach someone who is not fitting in, not feeling beautiful, not feeling driven to find their own happiness, not speaking their truths to people who need to hear it or maybe to the folks that forget our lives are not infinite but need to be reminded its finite.

Last summer I spent the summer, my first as a fisheries intern, in an entirely different mood and spirit. The summer was excellent in many ways, however in the end I felt my world was closed, surrounded by those with full lives and full hearts. I was outside of that circle, or so I felt, because of my differences from those who dwell here in the mountains. The summer was full of beautiful experiences which all shaped my opinion of the area and created a well inside of me that previous had been absent. When I returned to Washington for my school year (knowing that I would be returning to Montana the next year) my life was dark for a time, I stayed close to the couch eating and watching Parks and Rec. I didn’t know the reason that I reacted this way at the time to the changes of coming home. I decided it must be how I was spending my time differently, in the summer I was outside Monday through Friday in what most people would call Gods country–or Bob Ross’s country in my opinion. The absence of the sunshine caused my well of self to dwindle greatly, as I am like a cold blooded creature, I require the sun. Regardless of the effects of leaving Montana, I grew out of my home period and move on still unknowing why the mountains refused to leave my heart. Fast forward to this summer (2017).

Arrival was different this time, this place was a known, I knew where to go and I had people in my life to spend time with. Immediately I feel myself reaching out and connecting in a way that I had not before, like spider webs my spirit reaches out until a thin invisible net has surrounded me. My opinion began to change immediately and suddenly I am beginning to see what could be a semblance of home or at least possibility. I have met individuals which broadened my scope even further and for reasons beyond my understanding released me from fears that have long since bore upon my shoulders. I am suddenly seeing so many things in an entirely different light and I am sure we could say this about all experiences, they change us in some way. The universe works in such amazing ways sometimes giving us what we need exactly when we need it, then taking it away and so on and so forth. I am solid in self and feel myself becoming a woman finally at almost 30, I feel beautiful, capable and I know that I will receive what I need. I was drawing some time back and found myself drawing this goddess like woman walking through the woods at night, moonlight pouring upon her shoulders as she walked carrying a lantern. Upon her head was a set of antlers and she carried a hunters knife. Later that night I found out that the full moon, that was to be that night, was called the “full buck” moon. I felt alive, connected and that night I danced under that moon feeling more whole than I have ever.

This area is so open and full of possibility, so many places one could live here their whole lives while never seeing everything. The mountains humble you and the peaks breathe life sealing up the cracks in your spirit. The wind even speaks to you as it passes through the trees, carrying that wonderful pine sap smell. Every day that I spend out here I feel that well I created last summer filling, while previously it laid empty. I used to think that I had a center of power which was fueled with; working out (feeling capable), solitude (mixed with some social interaction) and being outside in any manner. I find that my center has changed somewhat it is now being fueled with; the desire to be capable but more so self reliant, having alone time but also creating deep community connection, still being outside in any manner and now allowing myself to just be present–sit and be still.

I do not know what my future hold for me, I feel as though I am at a intersection and I am waiting for the breeze to send me in the right direction. This may sound like something that is negative but actually it is not, it is anything but. I feel free and something that has been mostly absent in my life–hope. I have always been a realist mixed with a little old fashion romantic and a touch of altruism. Hope flickered to light not long ago, was quickly snuffed out and now I feel the radiance of the warmth moving through the cockles of my heart and spirit. I will be okay, I will always be okay until the moment that I cease to be and even that will be alright.

“Love flowers best in openness and freedom”-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire 

I used to think that this referred to only romantic relationships but now I believe it means more than that, self love and love of the things you care about (not always people). Allowing yourself to be free but also open, allowing the good in with the bad and accepting that things will virtually always be out of your control. The best I can do now is to be honest, kind, open and hope that all the other shit falls away.

I am here to say that whoever you are out there, life is all around at us at all times and sometimes we all forget that simple fact. We are all broken, in a state of mending in some way at all times. Sometimes perspective is everything, one of my favorite songwriters wrote these lines

“Cant you see that a breeze is just a change of pace?” and “Stuck in the rain? Do a rain dance” 

Maybe you’ll see worth in those line. I wish so much hope, love and light to all of my people (and beyond) and to myself so that next time I feel spent and empty I can drink from this like a flask of hope.

Thank you if you made it to the end, much love-Leah



One of the greatest travesties

One of the greatest travesties in our time (in my mind) is that we believe adventuring/camping is not simply being outside in the wild of this world but it is binge drinking/stereo booming. Camping=Partying. We losing the wild of this world everyday, but we are also losing the ability to be alone in what is left of it. We have to drink on our camping trips, have apps running on our phones the whole time so we can twitter how many steps we took! Or there’s the photo proof selfie that we were in fact at that spot.

I recently overheard a sober parent talking to a friend and what she said really made me think, she said

“If there was one thing that I could have NOT taught my son, it would be that you have to drink beer to have fun no matter where you are”

the reason this hit home is not because I am an avid drinker but because I feel that most of the people I know similar in age to me (and even not) are that way.There are people who need beer to complete an the adventure, or to drink along the way, many of these I have known in varying degrees. I get having a couple, I have been known to take a can of really good beer or cider to the top of the mountain but never have I taken more than one, this is not meant to say that I am better than anyone but to me I feel like if I really want to be in this moment and this place why would I be inebriated? How do we truly connect with others and nature when we are not being ourselves. I mean were not going to even mention the safety problems with drinking and adventuring as they are pretty obvious (you don’t want to fall of the mountain friends!)

An even larger growing addiction the vast majority of people who cannot be without their phones, they have to be constantly playing music, or games, or texting. I recently went on a camping trip with one of these people (had I known I would have kicked them outta the trip), I am one of the people that when I go out into the woods my phones is turned off and put away because if you have music constantly playing how do you hear the trees playing their quartet of wind instruments in their leaves and the very sound of nothing but chickadees hopping around the forest floor.

Anyway this whole rantish type of thing is meant to do one thing, challenge you! So here it is-

The next time you go outside for any amount of time (especially a hike) I challenge you to NOT bring your cell phone for anything (No fitness/GPS or anything else APP) Leave it in the car. Get a paper map though so not to get lost folks. 

And yes obviously I have brought my cell phone on a few of my trips obviously because I have pictures of them on here, and yes there are even a couple selfies, I feel ashamed. I do not everytime though many trips go undocumented!