“There is so much wildlife here, if you look into the woods you will definitely see something.” Robin is driving us deeper into the forest. This dirt road takes us to the Beck Homestead in Montana’s Swan Valley, where we’re immersed in a culture of leaves, paws, wings, claws, and hooves. He peers out the driver’s side window searching for every possible glimpse of animal, and I kiss his cheek each moment that it won’t interrupt his driving- or his looking.
I’ve told him on walks that my love for nature extends only as far as my interest in the esthetics of it. But I realize I am in love with this pure air, the mountains, and the creatures of the Swan Valley… not for their intrinsic beauty, but for their peace-giving properties, and for what they have done to my man. I am swooning, this time, at the sight of his eyes, as they are back-lit by a new inspiration. He says, “All my life I’ve just driven past forests, I never realized how much there is to see by actually looking into them. I would have driven slower.” And he was driving slow, so enamored by the thought of spotting a creature to teach me about.
At night, we arrive at the base of a grand, grassy hill and are facing a gigantic three-story barn. Warm amber light spills from the windows and the trees crescent, cradling, like an oyster holds its pearl.
We walk hand-in-hand up the hill. To my right, an open plain, a pond, where some twenty whitetail deer bend their necks over cool, moist earth. Mystified, I am drawn there.
A proud bird lands very close to me on the wooden fence, puffing forward a red-feathered belly, its beak eagerly showing off a worm. In this way, the bird delays its dinner for a few minutes, watching me carefully, as I soak in the majesty of a patch of land that is loved and respected- just for what it is.
Does she, the bird, want to show me the worm, for how richly we are rewarded when we strive? Or… maybe she’s looking into my eyes, seeing what I feel while holding on to my love’s hand, as I am looking out onto all he wants to teach of and protect, respect and learn. His vision is a tangible one, one that can be understood by letting the warblers and chickadees excite, make contact with an Earth who is telling us something, and listen, and be changed. In dreams I’ve been told his spirit belongs here, and as such is such and is a proven truth to me today, then so do I. I should ask the bird, but she's eating now.
Now here's my wish.
Let us all write notes from the Swan Valley, or find something like this within!