I'd roam these hills alone at times, other times with some friends. I had a friend who owned a horse, and she pastured her horse in the field just across the Rattlesnake Creek Drive from Lincoln Hills Drive...which is now all built with homes. She was allowed to borrow a horse from neighbors a few times and together with our trusty steeds, we roamed these hills. I spent so much time in these hills that one day I figured out that I was a person, unique and with a mind that like to think deep things when wandering the hills. It was sort of like a Descartes moment "I think, therefore I am." I used to tell folks I found my soul in those hills, and left my heart there too. Without realizing what was going on, I had my first of many spiritual awakenings.
So early this morning, I leashed up my Mom's dog, McDuff, and together we went roaming. I'm 40 some years older, out of shape, but I still trekked up the trail that has been cut for the use of those who love these hills. My hills have changed. Not just built with more homes, but trees are gone, new ones taking their place. Most of the trees there are younger than my absence from these hills.
Norman Maclean came from these parts and he was haunted by the waters. I am haunted by the trees. Either way, I understand what he meant by stating all things merge into one. Because I was 14 years old this morning, without losing any of the lessons I gained these past 40 years.
No one, and I mean no one, has done a better job expressing what if feels to be in western Montana than Norman Maclean. The world saw the movie (and a very young Brad Pitt in what was probably his breakout role) and some have read his writings. Those of you who have seen the movie but never read the book, do yourself a favor, find a copy and read it. Than man wrote the most beautiful prose I have ever read, and I have read a lot.
I will leave you with a quote that has a whole lot of meaning for me:
“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe.
To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace
and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories