We returned last night from our (mostly) annual Memorial Day road trip to Red Lodge, a small town in south central Montana where my husband was born and raised and where we met, awkward middle schoolers
It is the perfect road trip for the Memorial holiday, for that memorized stretch of highway that crosses through the sacred Montana landscape holds an important, pensive place in our hearts. I am always amazed at how little we talk on this drive, Andy and I. We study the land. We point out the swelling river, increased coal train traffic, bald eagles, antelope, new construction. We talk about what is changing and what is exactly the same. We remember. For our bodies know this journey.
We happily make this pilgrimage with our daughters, knowing the deep appreciation for our home is firmly rooted in their bones. In this week’s mama digs I wrote about this journey and its legacy, my memory of the same as a kid. Click to read almost there
The Beartooth Pass opens, in theory, every Memorial weekend. Plows cut through 20 feet of snow on a winding mountain road to connect Montana to Wyoming. We ski the pass every May and June. Or, really, I used to before kids. It hasn’t appealed to me as much in the last few years and I’ve instead opted to hang with my kids and family, run my favorite trails, adrenaline pumping as I think every fat tree is a moose.
I’ll ski the pass again. Maybe next year. I’ve been saying that the last three years…The pass didn’t open this year because a fierce storm dropped feet of wet snow, over a foot in the valley.
Imagining we’d have so much time to hang inside I lugged my sewing machine and yards of fabric, planning to stitch up some summer frocks for the girls. Wouldn’t you know, we managed to fill our time just fine.
my aunt and uncle’s property
my mother-in-law picking rhubarb to make a crisp
I love Red Lodge for many reasons, mostly for how little it changes. Every store or restaurant or trail we visit, we run into friends and family. We settle into the familiar, grounding rhythm of being with people we love. Of just hanging out, making messes and cleaning them up. Hanging out some more.
brand new Clara
daddy throwing snowballs at the window
So we are home now and (AND!) we move into our new home on Friday! By ‘move in’ I mean it will be empty and we can walk around and study every nook that is our very own. But, we plan to stay in our little apartment for a bit longer while we do some messy renovations upstairs. One benefit to our unique living situation is that we’ve saved some money to throw at our new place right away. We plan to do new lighting, wall re-texturing, painting and carpet rip-up right away. Oh yes, there before-and-after galore, y’all. Here’s a little sneak peak at our living room:
Read more on to Red Lodge and back…
We had a big, sunny weekend outside (after many weekends outside) that culminated in Andy exhaling as he fell into the grass, “Holy shit the fence is done.”
Our fence was a big project that began with months of research and brainstorming and, mostly, standing in our yard staring at the melting snow and then thawing earth while tossing ideas back and forth. We needed a fence for our dog, kids and garden. But! For decades, our property has been the neighborhood pathway to the public space behind our home and we wanted to honor that tradition. Also, the fact that our land spills into the vast, undeveloped mountain is its best asset so we didn’t want to just fence it shut.
Read more on the fence: zen hen…
nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words, about the last week
I just asked Margot what we’ve been up to lately and she shrugged, sighed and said, “Took off on an airplane to California and then came back to Montana and gardened.”
We’ve been outside, our family. Coming together to build a fence, plant seeds and starts, move our bodies with sun on bare skin.
This time of year is the most hopeful and saturated.
Me: I am so excited to move into our new home in a few weeks.Margot: I am exciteder.Me: Oh? How is that?Margot: Well, it’s because I am braver.Me: Hmm. And what does that mean?Margot: Just that I am old enough.
I, after hoarding the canning lasts like a crazy person, decided to open the jars and use that goodness right up.
No need to wait on enjoyment.
Ruby starts nearly every sentence with Guess what? One time…
My endlessly crushable husband has several paintings in a group exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum right now. And, he has an exhibit in Spokane at the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery coming right up. Just wait until you see his new work.
And, while on the subject of Andy Cline, here he is demonstrating how a dig hoodie
can be used as a kid warmer/carrier. This was on the evening of Margot’s end-of-year preschool presentation. In this week’s mama digs, I wrote about how I sat proud in the sea of parents, remembering her first day of school. Click to read love grows
Another post in the next few days about The Fence. It’s done. All your questions will be answered.
Read more on nuggets: grow…
Sometimes, too often I think,
I am in a hurry
to accomplish or finish.
I want to be
in the middle of,
People keep tenderly reminding me that our tiny living experience will be a fond memory one day.
As we near the end of our kitchen-bed-living space, I can already declare it’s fond.
For, there’s nothing like a family in an itty, studio apartment for six months to bring about every single feeling existing in one’s person. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for us. We are all are quite good at speaking our needs, letting go of mess and pitching in to make it all work. As much as I cannot wait to get into our home, I admit I’ll miss our cozy, funky, piled-up living and how that PUSHED us out in a way we’d never experienced. My relationships with nature and my family are deeper from this adventure.
ps I forgot to announce the winners of Feeding Thomas
(congrats! email me at firstname.lastname@example.org):
jenniwaka said… All beautiful photos and nuggets as usual! Despite the pain early on, I didn’t think of breastfeeding as a real struggle, but when my daughter passed the one year mark I started to want to own my own body again. I think it was just a feeling I needed to work through for a while, but a couple months later we’re still breastfeeding as much as ever. This week I have started to earn wet open-mouthed kisses when she switches boobs, so I’m glad I held out! Stef said… I would love to be in the running for the Feeding Thomas books. I am an accidental breastfeeder. I was in the right place at the right time and ended up unintentionally exclusively breastfeeding my oldest for 8 1/2 months, and she didn’t fully wean til a year. The second time around I got twins, one who was the breastfeeding champion of the world, and one who couldn’t get letdown to save his life. My fourth is 13 months and we have managed to be completely formula free. It’s been a fun and crazy ride.
Read more on fond…
We have lots of DIYing happening around here and, come 9pm (the usual time I blog), I am so popped I fall into bed. This means I have a lot to share! And need another few hours in the day. And a massage.
I’ll begin with the most recent project: my garden plot. Or, rather, MY GARDEN PLOT!!!
I woke Mother’s Day to my favorite muffins on my favorite plate with my favorite people. And then Andy surprised me by leaving and returning with a sod cutter.
We spent the entire day heaving this giant behemoth around our future garden,
heaving chunks of soil and sod around our yard, finding creative places to stash it (so much of it!). Building a berm, grading a slope, burying the chicken run wire.
berm in our front yard, to be covered with weed mat and soil and planted with low-water grasses and perennials / our new fence in the background
chicken wire, buried with several layers of heavy sod chunks
While our monkeys climbed, dug, ran and tended chicks.
the AMAZING cedar rain wall Andy built on the east side of my garden
Our day ended with sunshiney, tired muscle beers and ditching dinner plans for pizza delivery.
Now, to plan and plant my 25×36′ square of earth. Ooh, the potential! The thrill! Gotta go.
Up soon, from the homestead: hand-stacked stone steps, the most beautiful fence you’ve ever seen and a pretty rockin’ hen house.
:: :: ::
In this week’s mama digs, I wrote about what the recent TIME mag cover and corresponding conversation made me think about. Like, what if we thoughtfully collected information, we formed our opinions about what works best for ourselves and our families, without inappropriately investing in the choices of others? Click to read be curious
Read more on my new plot…