This weekend marked a really important time for our family; the beginning of the slow season. You see the warmer months in Wyoming are jam packed with events, shows, openings, book signings, gallery talks, art walks, and any other number of art related events in our community. We have been so happy to be a part of the tremendous growth we have seen in the arts, but it has also been exhausting! Many late nights and long hours are spent in support of the arts. So we welcome this quieter season, mostly so we have more time to spend together as a family and to work on our own art.
We decided to kick off this quiet season with a visit to Montana. If you have been reading my blog for long then you know that Montana has always felt like home to me. So when my friend Lanie invited us to stay with her we jumped on the opportunity to spend time with a dear friend, out in nature, in my home state of Montana.
We awoke early on Saturday morning, after Eric had a late night of work with an artist's reception at the museum. We loaded the gang into the car and dropped the dogs off with my parents (who kindly watched the dogs. Bumblebee is no big deal, but Betty Sprinkles is a weirdo at their home). Then we hit the road. We drove through the day and made our way through Billings, my old hometown of Harlowton, continuing on through Two Dot and then farther into the remote Montana lands where Lanie lives.
I have known Lanie since we were very young and she was such an amazing girl then---smart, beautiful, independent, and somehow outside of the small town gossip that was really hurtful to a sensitive weirdo like me. We lost touch for a spell when I moved away to NM, but the internet allowed us to reconnect and our friendship has grown into something so very unique and special. She is still all of those amazing things that I remember from childhood, but so much more!
Now I wasn't sure if I was going to share here that Lanie's family is a ranching family, but there it is. We obviously have very different perspectives on that subject. However, we still maintain a close and treasured friendship. How do we manage that you ask? Well, we don't ignore our differences at all (sometimes that is best with non-vegan folk), instead we talk about it and listen to the other's perspective. We really listen, not from a point of aggression or judgement----which is quite remarkable if you really consider the facts. Not that we exhaust the topic either. Honestly I cannot really explain in words how or why it works, but it does and we love each other. Do I love ranching? No. Does she want to be vegan? No. Yet, somehow we make sense as friends.
So...we went up to her land and were a little nervous about the whole thing---not from Lanie, but her family and friends could certainly be put out by our presence. We just really hoped for a weekend out in nature with a good friend and we got that and so much more. Everyone was so warm and it was good. I hadn't seen her mother in nearly twenty years so it was great to see her again!
When we arrived we all piled into a truck and headed off into the middle of nowhere. We ended up wandering around, watching the girls play in the water and dirt. Lanie's lovely friend Rachel and her daughter also joined us, so we were a happy group enjoying an absolutely stunning Montana afternoon. When it was time to go the children were filthy and happy. A child ended up doing nude yoga in a mud puddle. It was great!
Eric and Elise
I want you to realize that there was not a town for many miles. Do you have that where you live? The beauty and vulnerability of isolation is overwhelming!
We returned to the house and I prepared a vegan Chana Saag for the group. They had taken a long trip out of town and had picked up all kinds of vegan goodies just for us, it was so very appreciated! Everyone was so open to trying vegan food and it was such a pleasant meal.
The girls met their rescued pet badger (?!) Gilbert, who was living in his outdoor habitat. They fed the horses and basically lost their minds.
After dinner and clean-up we started a fire and roasted vegan marshmallows and made s'mores.
When it was time to put the girls to bed Eric stayed with them while Lanie and I returned to check the fire and thoroughly drown it. Then we drove to the top of a hill and looked at the night sky, it was stunning beyond words! I didn't take photos. I was just there with my good friend talking and looking at the sky. It was just so breathtaking. I felt the great weight of the universe all around us, the Milky Way was clearly visible. Have you ever looked at a sky like that? It has been so long since I last did and it was pretty much a highlight of my life. A good friend and infinity stretching out above us. I will always hold onto that.
After some time I realized that Eric needed to see it too, so we traded places and Lanie showed Eric as well. I love that they got to know each other a bit better too, beyond the friend/husband of a childhood friend relationship. I hung out with Lanie's mother at the house while the girls slept. It was just an amazing night.
The next morning we explored a bit more before heading home.
I am so thankful for a beautiful and magical time away.