I bought a new camera recently, but with Travis’s recent illness and some pro bono work I’ve been doing, I’ve not had a chance to begin executing the switch — taking off quick release plates, charging the new battery, switching the camera strap, etc. But this weekend, I finally began. My stepson, Deryk, is here, and I long planned to bequeath this camera to him when I got a new one. He likes shooting, and is taking a photography class next spring. I have no idea whether he will ever be as serious about photography as I am, but I don’t care, either. It’s a gift, freely given, and from here my old camera will travel his path, whatever that may be.
As we were cleaning out my old Tamrac photo pack for him, I plunged my hand deep into the recesses of one pouch and came back with three index cards, one of which had writing on both sides. It was dated 7/24/04 — a full year before I started blogging. Words were pressing to get out of my brain even back then, without much of an outlet. I had taken a few note cards along in my pack to record details of the trip. It reads:
“Logging Lake – Glacier Nat’l Park, MT. Longest 5 1/2 miles I’ve ever hiked. Hard for some reason. Drove through 2003 burn areas to reach trailhead. Sunset’s approaching. Gil’s [my ex-husband] fishing. 4 little cutthroats so far — all released. Shooting the mountains at the end of the lake. Goes into a perfect “V”. Think I’ll try the sunrise tomorrow.”
I remembered this scene well, and even had a photo of it.***
I still lived in Indiana when we made this trip. One year hence we would be living in Portland, Oregon, and I would be struggling to find my bearings with a two-year-old and no friends or family in the area. There have been a few big divides in my life, and that has been one of them: the urge to live out west, yet loving the family and friends I have back here. I seem destined to be-bop back and forth every few years. That’s fine.
Every time I’ve planned to get back to Montana in the last few years, something has happened to prevent it. This year, we had a plan to go with our friend and wedding officiant Fred, but Travis’s illness and surgery happened. This suggests to me that the time is not right.
I try not to miss Montana too much, but I do, and probably always will, unless I move back. And if we do, then I will miss things here. That is the nature of life. For now, I’m relishing this little note card, this little reminder.
About an hour after this photo was taken, we met a gentleman and his five-year-old daughter, also camped at the lake. His wife had died a few months before, and he was struggling to adapt without her. He’d brought his daughter out to Glacier to try to get away, clear their heads, and forge their bond. The four of us talked a long while over dinner. He lent us his water filter, since Gil had forgotten ours. Later, I lay awake in the tent, listening to the call of the loons on the lake and considering my own young child, and my own mortality and impermanence.
And then we hiked out the next day.
***It seems awkward to have a photo of the ex here, but exes are a fact of life and part of the tapestry. Occasionally they will show up in the album. Similarly, all the best pictures of my husband from twenty years ago, with long curly hair and a scruffy beard, come from his ex-wife’s storage closet. So it goes.