I keep dreaming about the mountains. Whether I’m just driving through, or walking amongst the aspens and lodge pole pines, or sitting along the banks of the Salmon river, that is the place my subconscious wants to be. If I’m being honest with myself, it’s where my heart wants to be as well. When I close my eyes I can smell the sage brush mixed with the pine, mixed with the campfire, I can hear the river as it flows next to our camp I can feel the riverbed between my toes, the sun on my back and the feel of bug spray on my skin, and the gentle pull of my fishing pole as I stand in the water waiting for the tell tale signs that I have a fish on. I can see the placement of every bush and tree around my camp. Needless to say, I feel that even though I was born in the city, that my roots are buried deep elsewhere.
Every year around the time that the snow is just starting to melt off the foothills and all the flowers and trees are beginning to awaken, I find that those roots start to pull me towards them. I feel inexplicably stuck if I’m unable to follow them, and until we are reunited I am absolutely stir crazy. I constantly feel like part of me is missing, never completely whole, or completely happy.
Every thing I know, and everything I love about the outdoors is because my mother, and my grandfather loved them first. When I am out there doing the things they loved and taught me and my sisters to love, I am closer to them, especially my grandfather. Every bend in the river is a memory, every trail is a story, every lake shore reminds me of my sisters. All those memories, stories and loved ones are part of who I am.
I come from a very long line of outdoorsmen and of those who made their living off of the land. Ranchers, loggers and farmers, and most recently construction. I also descend from many pioneers who braved the elements to head west to find whatever it was they needed. Not only did they live off of the land, they loved it. Very early on I was given, or maybe I was even born with a deep love and respect for the mountains and everything that resides within them. That love has been passed down generation to generation, branch to branch on my family tree. While my husband has found a passion for the mountains that rivals my own, his family was quite the opposite. They were settled in New York and Chicago while mine were trailblazing the west, settling in parts of Utah and Arizona that had never really seen anyone but Native Americans. Matt and I compared photos of our great grandfathers at about the same time, around 1920. Night and day! Three piece suit, boatmans hat and shined shoes and a neck tie versus chaps, and cowboy hats and boots. It was really interesting to see the difference between worlds in the same period of time.
I often wonder if I was born a century too late. I will sit and picture what my life would be like if I was 30 years old in 1913 instead. What would I be doing? Where would I be living? Would I be happier… Not to say I’m not happy now. Just a different, more simple for of happy maybe?
I know I am just dreaming, maybe romanticizing life a bit, but I picture myself on a ranch up in the Stanley basin. A modest cabin built by my husband and I on several acres with the Sawtooth’s in the background. We would have cattle and horses and chickens and lots of dogs. I can even see myself possibly being a school teacher to children that lived in the valley, or maybe owning a cafe in Stanley or Ketchum or Sun Valley. Who really knows… It’s all speculation, or dreams, maybe. The fact of the matter is I don’t live in 1913, in the Sawtooths, or even on a ranch. I live in 2013, in a very complicated world, that gets a little bit more complicated every year. Perhaps what I’m really craving is a world just a little bit simpler.
To keep my soul from rebelling against my body, I tell myself that someday we will live in the mountains. We will have that cabin with the Sawtooths in the background, and perhaps even a few horses and cows. I mean, raising animals is in my blood. We might open a cafe in Stanley, or start an outfitters business. Having these future goals allow me be content within my every day life right now. I love my job, and my home, and Boise and I really am happy here. But what I will always love more are the drives from Boise to Stanley and the way I feel as I leave the city and rejoin my roots. I love the relationships I’ve developed with the people I camp with. I love the three weeks that we spend in those beautiful mountains every summer. In knowing that someday I won’t have to leave, I don’t mind fighting the continual pull of those roots as I return home to the city.