(semi- smokey moonrise I took a three summers ago from our campsite on Lake Mac Donnald in Glacier National Park)
I had to get out and go for an after dinner stroll tonight. And no, I am not having second thoughts about the charming Mr. N! :) Tonight I was lured by sunset. See, the smoke from the fires in Canada has finally reached us-- a common occurrence this time of year. Because we are surrounded by four mountain ranges, the smoke has a tendency to soc us in and make it hard to see much of the usual scenery. It can be a nuisance, but it does lend itself nicely to some really cool sunsets and sunrises.
The smoke does some remarkable things when mixed with the warm tones of the rising and setting sunlight. The combination paints our valley in all shades of blue, gray, purple, red, gold, and orange. The smoke and light also play funny tricks on the mountain silhouettes. The usually hard and clearly defined ridge lines soften and become mystical shadows and whimsical clouds in the distance. Just the right mix of smoke and light lends itself nicely to Montana moments and Montana reflections...
I plugged into my mp3 player and selected a mix I put together when I was in the thick of mustering through my first few years as a new teacher, new adult, and new Montanan. I'm not sure what drove me to pick that mix, maybe it was the smoke, but it took me back in time.
In some lights, I wouldn't want to go back to that time to save my life. Those first two years had their fair share of hard, dark, and smokey moments, but they taught me a lot. Mostly, they taught me how to pick myself up and keep going after life's unexpected sucker punches to the gut and how to successfully navigate the emptiness of truly being alone-- two golden lessons that definitely came at a premium.
But in tonight's sunset, I wouldn't trade those two years for anything. As a friend once wrote, although there were more than a fair share of dark smokey days in those first years, there were also some of the most beautiful "salmon colored" days too. Those are the days and moments that will be forever captured by my memory. None of which would have happened had I not had those dark and smokey days too. The people I met, the friends I made, and the family I found were all wonderful adventures who held the keys to many golden life lessons too-- lessons of a gentler sort.
Those first two years in Montana were the perfect mix of smoke and light. They were a series of breath-taking smokey sunsets that will forever anchor my story-- sunsets just like tonight's.