A lighter highway to Missoula

I sit here with a light breeze blowing a tinkling wind chime outside that vibrates through the window to my ears. It’s peaceful here in Missoula, Montana where my newly married friends, Kristen and Graham and their four fluffy cats reside.

Kristen is another of my clan of Shakespeare and Company family that went through the January intensive with me. She is wise beyond her years, makes me think, asks intelligent questions, told me to help myself to anything in the fridge and house, made me put my swollen foot up, was nurturing and so hospitable. I felt like a queen, privileged to be arriving to a home with delicious smells oozing from the kitchen, with Graham cooking dinner. They are darling together, completely in love, devoted, and I thoroughly enjoyed basking in their glow.

On my way to their cute downtown home I drove by Flathead Lake, Montana. So gorgeous, it reminded me of a large Lake Tahoe, CA and I wished I had a kayak.

Then I took a small detour to check out the National Bison Range, a huge refuge with a one-way, gravel, 2 hour drive to see bison, elk, antelope, deer and birds.

My poor car really did see more dirt, and rough roads in Montana than anywhere else, but what a champ, a reliable companion in adventure.

The bison were lazy, hard to believe they can run fast, though I did see a few mothers nursing their young; the deer darling, especially the spotted fawn…

and the pronghorn antelope a species I had never seen before.

The views were spectacular and you have 18,500 acres relatively to yourself to take your time, stop and be a voyeur into the lives of the wild.

After the delicious home-cooked meal in Missoula we went out for ice cream at the local  hangout. It was a jovial town gathering place, and there’s a buzz of visiting while standing in line for delicious waffle cones and milkshakes.

Kristen and Graham drove me around Missoula a bit, showed me the university then back to the house to see their wedding photos and play a game of Rummikub! Even though I missed the wedding, the photos helped me experience the whole ceremony and they even gave me a jar of jam that they had made and decorated and given away to each guest. It now feels like I was there, I have the jam to prove it!

They reminded me of me, 25 years ago, setting up a nest, awash in domestic bliss and so happy to be creating a life together. And now here I am careening around the continent alone, blissfully content in a whole new stage and yet so grateful to share their moments of discovery, so proud to see their respect for one another, their deep commitment, their idealism and sparkling eyes of secrets.

Life changes and each stage has it’s complete and utter joy and I am so grateful to be welcomed to walk side by side along my friends’ paths for these timeless moments. For a day or two we share the gravel walk and I couldn’t think of any place I would rather be today. Their secret smiles are inside my soul.

I hope the day will be a lighter highway

For friends are found on every road

Can you ever think of any better way

For the lost and weary travelers to go?

Making friends for the world to see

Let the people know you got what you need

With a friend at hand you will see the light

If your friends are there, then everything’s all right

(Friends by Elton John, listen on youtube)

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