I could have been a cowgirl.
My dad grew up on a ranch in Montana and I lived there until we moved to Washington. I was six. Old enough to have learned to ride a horse, to have milked a cow or two and to have steered the pickup while my dad threw bales of hay off the back for the cattle. My mom tells stories of me climbing up on top of the hay baler when I was very tiny (I climbed everything!)
I could have been a cowgirl. But my family moved away when the cattle ranch was not enough to support all the brothers and their families. I never got to experience driving with a sibling (one on the steering wheel, one on the gas pedal) down to the main road to catch the school bus or having animals in 4-H every year or laying pipe out on the ranch to earn spending money (thank goodness!) I grew up instead in a city and I doubt my own children would even know what a hay baler looks like.
Their memories of Montana are limited to Holland Lake, the pristine mountain setting where the Stotts have held reunions for longer than my lifetime. When my oldest children were babies, we trekked faithfully to the familiar campsite. Matthew was only 12 days old on his first trip to Lolo National Forest. I was excited for them to repeat my favorite memories of childhood - learning to ski behind Uncle Roy's boat, volleyball games over the buoy line in the water, Aunt Bon's big black inner tube (and trying to stand on it!), late night games and uproarious laughter with all my hilarious aunties, cheesy eggs for breakfast...
But we moved away, too. Back east for school. Midwest for internship and residency. Always a little too far to travel with a large family and a miniscule student budget. When we finally moved back to the west, one of my very first thoughts was that we would be close enough for Holland Lake again. I hope my children make lots of favorite memories in Montana.
Studio Calico Apple Orchard (still working on using up old kits!)