Last week, a frequent French visitor to this blog traveled to Montana, including the region where I still maintain a home. I thought I'd send this note out to her.
Elaine and Kodiak in Cut Bank, Montana
I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Cut Bank, if you had visited later in the summer, my home would have been empty and an available place for you to stay. After only a couple years, I left my quiet little Montana hideaway for greener deserts. During my time in Santa Fe, I learned something immensely important. Commercialized exotic locales are often rarely relevant in the lives of anyone other than tourists on a ten-day holiday. What you did in Cut Bank, is what I continually attempt to do wherever I reside. I meet ordinary people in everyday environments and walk away with extraordinary experiences, ideas, and insight to personal philosophies. It is the heart of my painting and the only reason I can give when asked how I can paint on a daily basis without a loss for ideas.
I spent last weekend in the Ozark Mountains of southwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas. A few months ago, my parents acquired a cabin in the region overlooking Bull Shoals Lake and I found myself lost in the land’s topography and residents for nearly three days. The southern mountains are not nearly as high as my adored Rockies; but the canyons run deep and the area is rife with caves, springs and well-hidden black bears and cougars. I shall always love the American west, but for now these short mountains and deep valleys might be enough.
Whilst dreaming of Montana, I often think more in terms of routine moments than specific places or vacations. Just yesterday, I sat in a local Dexter restaurant… but my mind was 2,000 miles across southern Alberta, in the pattern of traveling home after a long summer day spent in Calgary or Lethbridge. Driving my Land Rover down a north-south highway that separates the rolling fields of ridiculously yellow canola in east-by-west plots. I’ve traveled here at least a couple dozen times before. The Canadian equivalent of NPR sends out a folksy tune in the speakers. The sun makes a downward descent outside my passenger window. I approach the American border as the last bit of light disappears and I get that exciting shiver up my spine when I consider the Cubans in the glove box. I cross without incident and speed-up a bit to drift the final forty-six miles home. There is something special about living as a native in a foreign land, but what am I saying… you know this better than most. – DN