Montana Memories

from Jane Volk:
I cannot tell you how much my Montana memories with you mean to me. I think of so many things like: the book at the top of Mt. Lincoln; Cowboy Bob; Kim swearing at the &%#^%% horses (the highlight of the pack trips); bossy/lovable/noisy Jeff (how is he???); the Monday morning briefings at the barn and the inevitable city slicker taking a coat off while on horse back two minutes after being told not to do so; and so many treasured images like the double rainbows over the Ranch and the glacier lilies and the Indian paint brush and the elk thistle; the early morning bell (followed in short order by Dick swearing a blue streak); sharing breakfast with Connor in the dining room after 9/11; welcoming my kids home safely after riding through a hailstorm with the kiddie wrangler (and Mary at age 7 or so asking for a glass of wine and a hot bath); the square dances (sometimes on a Saturday night in the summer, I picture everyone gathering down at the barn under that beautiful sky at dusk in their fancy western garb especially that one year when one of the ladies did Mary’s hair up in a French braid!); the vintage winter mural on the walls of the barn attic in the square dance room; the “Gratis Amour” cabin that always produced a giggle; the Australian (or Kiwi?) waitress who always asked, “How would you like your ‘iggs?”; the cook outs and the rain outs; the pack horses falling down into the chasm on one of those pack trips (remember that?!?!) and, in response, Kim just saying something really animated like, “oh, bother” and Kelly’s wonderful meals so lovingly packed on those trips – and trout for breakfast; and Hawk of course (I assume he’s no longer with us?) and all the old dutiful reliables; seeing the horses get their shoes on on that crazy tilt table; always stopping at that grocery store in Belgrade before driving up to the Ranch and me NEVER remembering the name of that stupid store (including now!) and everyone laughing about it; the standard Ranch packed lunches with the cookies in the plastic tube and the inevitable red delicious apple and the Lay’s chips; watching the branding after one of the pack trips and actually being the one to actually enter the names in the book of books (Golden, Cut Throat, Rainbow and Brook); Happy Hour; your little John Deere tractor waterers for the lawn (do you still use them?); watching the mares and foals in the front fields; the fresh smell of my laundry after hanging out in the Montana air; the playground with the horsey teeter-totters; all the wranglers(including the one who I still quote to this day when a kid on a horse looks frightened: “That horse don’t wanna fall any more than you do”); Dick doing his fire truck training for your wranglers and Billy backing the car into the fence (trying to impress Kim with his nascent driving skills); Kelly’s quilts; Tubbs and Hannah’s Hangout and Potts; the Monday night softball games; the pay phone in the laundry room and the many important calls I had there (including that morning of 9/11 before we knew ANYTHING had happened) – and SHALL I GO ON? I could….