And now I have another paradise to add to that list — Western Montana. N and I were just there for the biennial family reunion of his big and wonderful extended family. Each family had a cabin on Seeley Lake, a place where the sunsets looked like this (this was actually the view from our cabin):
The temperatures were in the 80s every day but dry, and at night it would dip into the 40s. Besides the family activities, meals and singing, there were many things to do in the area, like canoeing on the lake, hiking to stunning waterfalls,
and visiting nearby Glacier National Park, which might be the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on.
Being more accustomed to the arid Southwest — a different kind of beauty — I was amazed by the abundance of lakes, rivers and streams, full of crystal-clear blue-green snowmelt.
The bugs were few and the air smelled fresh with tamaracks and other conifers. It really couldn’t have been more perfect. Lest you fear that this was a nature-only trip and that I missed out on indulging my love of food and of ice cream in particular, a trip into Missoula (a very hip town) for the farmers market yielded ripe local cherries and huckleberries, and on the way back from Glacier we stopped in Bigfork for highly recommended, absolutely delicious huckleberry ice cream.
The days were long — darkness didn’t fall until 10:00 pm and the sky began to lighten around 4:00 in the morning — and we were there for the full moon, so nights were bright enough to walk along the lake listening to the cries of the loons. I’d never before heard the eery but entrancing call of the loon, and it added a soundtrack to the smells and sights of the cool Montana nights.
As I fantasized about moving to Montana, I had to remind myself that winters there are long and cold. And snowy. I’m pretty spoiled living in North Carolina where the weather is survivable all year long. North Carolina is nice. But it’s not paradise. And so I know for sure I’ll be back to Montana someday.