We came to Montana because of Facebook. I put a post on my personal page asking if anyone in the US or Canada required house sitting over the winter and my friend Wendy responded, telling us we could stay in her house in Whitefish for a month before Christmas.
She and her husband Bob were planning to return to Playa del Carmen, Mexico (where we met) in mid November and asked if we would like to visit with them for a few days before they left.
Since Wendy is one of my favourite people on the planet, I said HELL YES!
From the sweltering summer heat of La Penita de Jaltemba, Mexico, Montana seemed like a far-flung option, with an emphasis on the word far.
But why not? We thought.
Arriving in Montana I had no answers to that question. Only answers as to why going there was one of the best ideas we never had.
Man, oh man, this place is GORGEOUS.
They call it ‘Big Sky’ and I spent most of the drive from Bend, Oregon, hypothesizing on what that actually meant, wondering if, how and why the sky would be perceived as bigger in ‘The Treasure State.’
I may have sucked the whole sky into my lungs as I gasped at every sight we encountered over the state line.
The bright blue sky, the expansive fields and glass-like lakes made us think that the whole state could be classified as a national park.
It was so good to see our friends again. Wendy and Bob threw us a going away party at their home in Playa del Carmen, Mexico before we left there earlier this year. We spent Christmas eve together the year before, sharing pot-luck parties and copious tacos throughout the year preceding it.
Reuniting in their ‘other home’ of Whitefish, Montana during a severe cold snap was a world away from Playa, yet felt wonderfully familiar.
Wendy drove us to the actual national park (Glacier) and I came to see why the choice was made to protect that particular piece of natural treasure.
She said she needed to say goodbye before she left and we huddled together on the shore of Lake McDonald giggling like children while the most freezing wind I have ever felt whipped against our cheeks and chattering teeth.
Did I mention I’d never been so cold?
Glacier national park was cloaked in snow, which I thought was a very fitting way to see it.
Icicles hung from the eaves of the closed Lake McDonald Lodge as Wendy and I ran around the buildings peering through the windows.
A few frozen huckleberries clung to the bush, braving the winter chill.
We only saw one other couple the whole afternoon, as no-one else was keen enough to brave the cold. It was so much fun, I felt like a kid in a closed toy store.
It has actually warmed up a bit here in Whitefish since Wendy and Bob left ten days ago. It also started to snow. The first day it did, I ran around the house like a crazed animal putting on scarves and gloves and flinging Tyrhone’s at him, crying “It’s snowiiiiiiiiiing!!!!!” like it was some kind of national emergency.
“Let’s gooooooooo!!!!!” I yelled to a bundled up Tyrhone as I headed outside to run under the crystal white confetti.
It was beautiful. The crisp air, the mist on our breath, the snow in our hair.
Yesterday, we headed to the ‘Big Mountain’ to see if we could practice snowboarding. We’d picked up second-hand gear from a great consignment store in Bend, Oregon and wanted to try it out. The resort isn’t officially operational yet which means no lifts, but the mountain is open to anyone keen enough to hike.
We practiced on a small slope and hiked back up to do it again. The snow was soft and powdery like icing. My lungs heaved and my cheeks flushed and my heart pounded as I glided a little, carved out a small turn and promptly collapsed into the snow in a fit of giggles (you can find a clip of it on facebook).
Before this journey I was a bit worried about how I would handle the winter. While there is still a long way to go (we are house sitting in the Colorado Rockies for three months from January!), winter is breathing new life into me.
The crispness of the air, the ice and the snow is bringing simple beauty into sharp focus.
The cold is clearing my head and bringing me into the magic of the moment.
Far from being dreary and dark, life here is so, so bright.