While we’ve been here in Billings, Carol was kind enough to go down to the lake and water my window boxes and geraniums pots, and she sent me this photo, showing that they were alive and well. It sounds like she nearly had to brush snow off of them. Even over here, on the east side of the state, we turned the furnace on this morning. Beartooth Pass, where Don rode his bike on Saturday, when the kids and I were roasting at downtown Billings’ Strawberry Festival, has four inches of snow coating the highway this morning.
I suppose that June often brings this kind of crazy weather, but there is something about the clear and present danger in national and world events, and the high-profile suicides, that makes it feel unsettling. Maybe, it’s because of the books I’ve been reading here, as I wait for a household of teenagers to get out of bed late into the morning. One book took place as WWI broke out in Europe (The Summer Before the War) and the other, (Educated), is a haunting memoir about growing up in nearby Idaho in a survivalist family–the kind of family I see regularly drive down our Main Street, with an enormous American flag tethered to the truck bed, and yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” bumper stickers. On the 90 degree day before the cold front came through, I sat on the back deck, under a vine-drapped pergola, with shade trees rustling in the stiff breeze, flowers in the air, and a train far off in the distance. Duncan and Anna and a friend sat in their old kiddie pool to stay cool, and giggled over the Shirley Temple cocktails they’d made, complete with little umbrellas. Except for the power washing next door, it was an altogether pleasant experience out there, despite the temperature. I’d finished with WWI, and opened the prologue to Educated, as the dappled sunshine highlighted this first paragraph:
With that lyrical description of trees slowly swaying, thistles quivering, and the wheat field as a corps de ballet, she had me deeply hooked into her story, even as I imagined writing one of my own, starting with the words illuminated in the sunlight on page one–“The wind soared down the open neck, as if the peak itself, undisturbed, slowly, while the pocket of air…”. An ominous story forming in my imagination. The weather can do that to you…or, perhaps, it’s just time for me to go home. The parents get back in time for dinner tonight, and we can breathe deeply, having done our sacred duty to keep the kids safe under our watch. Early in the chilly morning, we’ll be on our long drive westward across the state, to settle back down, into our own kind of weather.