Jenna Caplette migrated from California to Montana in the early 1970s, first living on the Crow Indian reservation, then moving to Bozeman where she owned a downtown retail anchor for eighteen years. These days she owns Bozeman BodyTalk & Energetic Healthcare, hosts a monthly movie night, teaches and writes about many topics.
Though summer and daylight wane in late August, because I am just now out camping, I now notice the early sunrise, the late sunset.
In June I am too busy with the garden. The same in July. And I like to be in the mountains when so many have redirected their lives to the routine of fall — back to school, back to work. There are fewer people in the mountains now and less noise.
And oh! the berries. Huckleberries. Raspberries. Thimble Berry. Elderberry. Straggling Juneberries. This morning while out wandering the mountain where we are staying in a friend’s cabin, I came across a little thicket of gooseberries and went back to the cabin to get a container for picking, never remembering why it has been years since I last picked gooseberries. The bushes are lethally protected. I pick a few, carefully, one at a time, wondering what technique women of the past developed to achieve this without shredding their hands. If the goal of a berry is to be eaten and then pooped out and so it’s seeds spread, the evolution of the gooseberry seems counter-productive. I imagine a recipe for gooseberry pie: rinse berries to remove blood.
I think I did make a gooseberry pie, decades ago, and now I remember why I have treated them as a non-berry since. The few I gather I will mix with currants from our garden for jelly, to deepen the flavor.
As I wander, my mind jumps to other topics. I realize that all the dream jobs of my youth involved Mountain, forest animals and as few people as possible. I muse about how important that “not-people” component of my dreams was. I married a man who thought he would work as a fire look out, preferably in the Big Horn Mountains, not knowing how endangered that lifestyle already was or how changed our lives would be by his inability to complete the coursework in forestry and by our daughter whose disability made living in town the best option.
Ironic in any case since my ex is compulsively social and would never have survived the isolation of a fire look out. Raised by his grandmother, she also provided informal foster care to many, many youth, lining he and the rest of them along the wall at night to sleep on blankets, their feet pointed in to the center of the room.
And I have spent much of my career in jobs requiring me to be social.
The afternoons on this mountain are long. At home I never notice how long a summer afternoon is because at home my time is measured, rationed, crammed with responsibilities and tasks. Here there is time and more time, enough to watch rain clouds cluster over the Spanish Peaks to the South, then creep out to fill the sky, until everything is greyed out and expectant. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
My daughter is finishing the puzzle we brought, a puzzle that would take a week or two at home. Here it has taken less than 24 hours.
There’s lightning to the south now, the rumble of thunder, the sound of puzzle pieces being snapped in to place, and then rain fills the long reach of afternoon.