It is the tail end of the season here on the ranch in western Montana. The aspens are lighting up the prairie with a golden glow. The nights are cold, daylight is diminishing daily, but the sun burns intensely during the day, as through the lens of a magnifying glass.
JJ loves late season western fishing, so we’re here post labor day…the crowds have pulled out, kids are settled back in school and life is gearing up for whatever old man winter has in store.
But on the ranch, everyone is dedicated to making our stay the most important week of their year. What impresses us most are the wonderful people working here, drawn from all over the country, and beyond.
Just like the mama bear, I’m going back to my den in Connecticut with a new layer of fat. Thank God I don’t live with a first rate chef. Josh and his first mate, Ben, and all the other people in the kitchen, make every meal a moment of surprise and delight. These guys know how to cook in ways I’ve never dreamed. They cull from local farms and every meal is loaded with freshly picked greens and vegetables, as well as celebrating the beef and elk integral to the livelihood of the region. I’m addicted to a sandwich that is layered with slices of sweet potato, apple, pickles, onion jam and more, a peculiar melding of ingredients, strange and delicious.
And then there is Clint, a shy unassuming magician. He makes pastry magic in the kitchen in the dead of night, concocting the best cookies, rolls and breakfast pastries on the planet. Did I mention, we are in the middle of nowhere?
Then there all the other worker bees that make every day better. Juliet, from Lyon, France, lights up the room with her smile and cheer. I want to bring her home. She’s homesick for foods from her upbringing- french cheeses, wine, macarons…treats unknown in the wilds of Montana. We’ll send her a care package once we scour our neck of the woods.
There is Amy, Benjamin and Micah, whose biceps threaten to bust through his cowboy shirt. These people are all searching, like all of us, for meaning, a calling, and a place their heart can call home.
The bears are scary, but produce a wonderful and mysterious air of why we love this place. Without the bears, it would not be the west. The trout are beautiful, and JJ struggles to balance his desire to catch them, and his hope to leave them alone. This place is their home. It’s our blessing that we can share it for a moment, but we have a home too, and it’s time to go.
We were visited by two Bald Eagles today…breathtaking, and I want to believe saying both get out, and thanks for being here.