09.12.14 It’s been a week since we were at Sara and Garrett’s wedding in Montana’s Paradise Valley, and I still can’t stop thinking about that Saturday night. The Harvest Moon joined the party, rising up over jagged peaks at the south edge of the green meadow, just as the dancing began. The autumn light spun a web of gold over us all– family and friends celebrating love, beauty, nature, and our shared connection and community with one another. On the dance floor, my dear little Duncan and Anna captured the light which we all felt.
When we left at dark for our hotel, the sky would have been indigo, but the brilliant moonlight bleached out the color and the mountains surrounding the valley were still in silhouette. As we drove the 10 miles or so, on a winding two-lane road, harvest smells filled the car. This is a place where the farmers bring in their grain without the comfort of a glassed-in, air-conditioned cab combine. A few miles from the wedding barn, we came upon the Pine Creek Lodge and Tavern, which hugged the side of the road, like pubs do in Great Britain. An authentic Montana roadhouse, 50 or 60 cars and pick-up trucks lined the narrow road, and we could see the band performing under stage lights out back by the bonfire, and heard the music as we slowly drove by. A mile or two further, there was a white farmhouse with an enormous tent in the back yard, ablaze with twinkling lights and laughter– another wedding. And, back at the historic Chico Hot Springs, the 1900’s white clapboard hotel with green shutters, was rocking and rolling with a wedding party of it’s own. Guests spilled out of the glass doors to a big verdant lawn where candlelight illuminated the white tablecloths.
“It’s Saturday night in Montana!” we all said as we exchanged our wedding clothes for bathing suits and went for a soak in the hot springs under the stars and the moon. We talked about Montana’s road houses– those unique watering holes scattered around the big state, on dusty two-lane roads, miles and miles from any towns. Yet in the short summer and fall seasons, ranchers and farmers, young and old, come out on a Saturday night for music and dancing, and to celebrate community. It felt like all of Paradise Valley was at a party! There was a hard freeze there last night, and a dusting of snow today. All the more reason to linger over the memory of a fine Saturday night, under the Harvest Moon, in Big Sky Country.