On this grey Ohio morning, Montana seems very far away. Hidden behind over 1,000 miles, the politics of work, distractions of “civilized” life, and a ludicrous “to do” list. Distance brings remarkable clarity. Makes the unessential obvious. The chaotic maelstrom of everyday complications—simply falls away. There is nothing new about the observation, but traveling can be a profound experience in understanding and appreciating diversity—if your eyes and heart are open.
On this grey Ohio morning, I am humbly appreciative of a rare gift to spend time with an adult child and share with him an extraordinary experience.
Noonish, July 1, 2014 • The Trail of Cedars, Glacier National Park
Ah, where were we? Yes. Thomas showed love for his mother by carrying her rocks down the mountain. When the shuttle deposited us at Avalance, we brought out lunch makings and ate at a picnic bench next to a rushing glacier stream spitting aquamarine foam and racing around rocks like an unstoppable electric current. After lunch, Thomas displayed remarkable skipping skills and I channeled a childhood trip with my parents and brother, Ken. I could feel the flesh numbing cold and smooth stream bottom stones on my small feet. The dripping mass of granite and slate collected in the apron of my top. A long, long time ago.
The Trail of Cedars leads to Avalanche Lake, but we didn’t have four hours to invest. Instead, we planned to walk the trail loop and Thomas took the lead.
Green has so many hues—I have trouble remembering them when I paint in the studio. Even when I paint plein air, I struggle to recreate the subtle steps from midnight blue to inky forest, cool taupe to the softest celadon, that sliver between grass and rich Celtic moss.
The cedars are truly regal. The coarse and craggy Black Poplar bark—intriguing.
Raging turquoise falls and churning streams. Delicate dots of spring flowers in languishing lavendar, cornflower blue, canyon orange, shy pink, and proud yellow. A fragile counterpoint to massive hemlocks, cedars, poplars and aggressive winding veins of mountain streams. Mesmerized by the
blustering theatrics of the water, we jockeyed for position on outcroppings. We joined other mere mortals and stood statue dumb. Taking in the shock and awe of nature’s most sublime. At some point, Thomas and I both knew we had veered off our path of choice.
In his signature deadpan, my youngest observed that we were lost. Not lost, but strayed. Backtracking we heard park’s stories in fellow travelers’ comments. “Is it worth the hike?” “Stop it now or we’re heading back?” “You could have gone to the bathroom we passed 5 minutes ago.” Mostly, we met people dumbstruck by the beauty and happy to be in paradise. A fellow Wisconsonian admired Thomas’ Badger teeshirt on the way out. He’d moved to Montana 10 years ago. “Why?” I asked him. He looked around and gesture to the open spaces. “Wouldn’t you?” he replied. At 2pm, we hit the road.
Thomas had work. There was no work in negotiating a return trip for the next day and I would come the day after as I began my return. This day, this blue, clear-skied day would be the most beautiful of the three.