The Crazies–one of the dramatic island mountain ranges which dot the Montana landscape. Joy is always taking a photo of them, through the windshield of her car, as she drives to Bozeman for one of her many meetings at MSU. We never tire of the majesty of these mountains, rising sharply and steeply up out of the windswept plains. They were alpenglow beautiful at the end of a sun-filled day at our beloved Chico Hot Springs in Pray.
It was a splendid winter break to leave our freezing fog at home. The entire western side of the state had been under an inversion for days and days with poor air quality alerts. Just looking at the NOAA map with all of us shaded in gray, was enough to make you feel crazy, and there was a lightning of the heart to drive out from under it as we made our way east on Monday. What great medicine to just sit in the hot springs, bathed in sunshine, beer in hand. And, made all the more wonderful to be with some of our oldest friends. We had not been together since the election, and we spent hour upon hour, day and night, processing what has happened, why it’s happened, and our deep and profound fears for the future. There were breaks in which we talked about our families, but they were a short respite from our need to mourn with one another about the state of the world, and keep one another from going crazy about it all.
It was hard to leave. We drove away in the morning sunshine, the Crazies off in the distance in front of us. As is often the case in Livingston, the Venturi effect of the winds pouring out of the canyon, whipped across I-90 and traffic had to be re-routed through Livingston on to a surface road, before it was safe to get back on the Interstate further to the west. As the winds buffeted us, I thought about how high winds drive me crazy, and maybe that’s why they are called The Crazy Mountains. But, the actual myths are much more dramatic and interesting. One tale goes that there was a family en route to Oregon in the mid 1800’s, and when the mother/wife witnessed her family being slain by the Blackfeet, she axed the Indians to death, then screamed in pain and was forever crazy up there in the mountains. And, in another story, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition wandered into the mountain range and disappeared, never to be seen again. They found his journal, full of writings about headless ghosts and talking animals. Even the more benign Crow story about Chief Plenty Coup, who went into the mountains on a vision quest by fasting and cutting off the tip of his finger, and returned to report a vision in which he saw the white men coming with cattle, which replaced the bison, contains a prophecy of the craziness that happened in our country’s past.
I am back home, out of the shadow of the Crazy Mountains. The high pressure has dissipated and we are back to a normal gray with bits of hazy sunshine, some melting snow, and threats of freezing rain and snow flurries in the offing. But, this is just a touch and go landing for me, however, as I am off on a flight to DC early tomorrow morning, to join my three daughters, my two granddaughters, my two sisters, a niece, and thousands of other women, to participate in The Women’s March on Washington. I do not know what to expect, what the outcome might be, but just showing up and holding onto each other feels like the right thing to do, in a crazy time.