The Bench

     Bench snuggled into the shade of the Ponderosas.  Looking out beyond the meadow to the mountain range across the valley.  Openness, spaciousness, while feeling nested.  I have always wanted a mountain view, always loved the aerial sense it gives me of my place in the world.  A living topographic map laid out before me.  My mind can wander those far off ridge lines–imagine itself climbing up the scree slopes of Petty Peak.  It can dip down into the parked out forests of Ponderosa pine on the near slopes.  Mounds of gravelly sand that once were beaches on Glacial Lake Missoula.  My mind can conjure its watery surface creeping up the sides of the valley, shaping sand bars and inlets as it rose and fell over eons.

Or my mind can creep in closer, dancing in the meadow with the waving wands of fuzzy grasses.  It can peer through the bushes and see Grandmother Rhubarb–imagining her steadfast presence in this place for a hundred years–planted by a woman long dead and not a native to these mountains.  But the rhubarb still flourishes here, reminding me of the first family to sit on this hillside and look out at a sunset coloring up the view.

Maybe my mind doesn’t even leave this bench.  A piece of pine, sawed and shaped by the hands of a young man in Oregon, never imagining its place in the Montana mountains and the two women who would sit and write here, spurred on by their experience in his homeplace weeks before.

This is a special place where the mind has the freedom to wander back and forth in time and in and out of different perspectives. To be a butterfly tossed about on the breeze, giving itself up to the gusts and riding the waves of grass.  Or smelling the breeze like my dog–nose into the wind to catch scent of whatever might be lurking unseen in the woods.

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