I was raised near the beach and under the sun, but family trips to the mountains gave me an appreciation for their beauty I'd not known before. After many life changes in my family, I drove up with my mom and brother to discover why my sister had moved up here. We reached the Swan and it was all over for us. Years later and a lot of coming and going, I still call Montana and always will.
First of all, this is where my parents raised me. Because my father was in the military at the time of my birth, I wasn't born here, but this is where my mother and several generations of my family on her side are from.
The beauty of life in Montana: room to breathe, time to look around, cranes over the house, foxes in the field, real friends, solitary trails, summer for being outside, and winter for being outside some more—and catching up on reading. What luck to live here.
I am a wildlife artist. I moved to Bozeman, MT 16 years ago to be closer to the subjects I paint. I frequent Yellowstone and Glacier Park on a regular basis but some of the most enjoyable reference has come from my backyard. This past summer we were treated to several visits from a sow and her two cubs, along with elk, moose, deer, cougars and fox.
I live here by chance and choice. The chance part is that I was born in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem some decades ago ... so its plants and animals and land forms and waterways are parts of my extended family.
Before Christmas I saw one of those Montana moments that reminded me why I live here. On a frigid day, a woman in an SUV slid off an icy street into a ditch in front of a shopping mall. Two other vehicles immediately stopped. One driver invited the woman to sit in his warm car while he stopped traffic.
On a return flight, from any journey, as the plane circles Gallatin Valley, I look down from the window and marvel at the creeks meandering through a verdant valley, beautiful impressive mountains, often snow-capped, small bustling communities. When I get on the ground, I take in a big breath of fresh air and scan the vista.
That indefinable salmon colour glowing from the town at dusk through the branches of the cottonwood trees. In the distance the mountains are severe; their crests hidden in the white billowing clouds. Hopefully snow and oh, such danger to the vulnerable skin of the human just longing to be outdoors.