I find myself thinking about different things in Montana than I do at home in Ohio.
My thoughts here are very primal. So basic that they align with the classical elements that the ancient Greeks used to define their world: earth, water, air, fire and aether.
Earth—getting lost: When you arrive in Montana, swing by the first gas station you pass and fork out $25 for the Montana Road Atlas. Since cell service is hit or miss out here, you can’t count on Google Maps to get you to your destination. The Montana Road Atlas will even help you navigate gravel and dirt roads that will help you find the best Montana off-the-beaten-path locations.
Water—being thirsty: At home in Ohio, I never worry about having access to enough water. In Montana, I never leave the house without a full water bottle. With the humidity hovering around 10 percent and high temperatures in the 90s, staying hydrated is a must. And there are no guarantees that one will be able to find a place to buy a bottle of a water or refill an empty bottle.
Air—flat tires: This summer I have thought about tire pressure a lot. My tire air pressure gauge has seen more use this summer than in the last ten years. It started when my low air pressure light went on near Many Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park. In Ohio, I could zip to a gas station or, as a worst case scenario, call AAA. At Many Glacier, we were 50 miles from the nearest tire air pump and there was no cell service.
Fire—smoky air: Fire is on everyone’s mind in Montana. It’s a severe drought season. The worst ten forest fires in the U.S right now are located in western Montana. In Great Falls, the skies are smoky which makes for great sunsets and terrible air quality. My prayers include the firefighters and those who are losing homes and ranches to fires.
Aether—big skies: I will never cease to be astounded by the beauty of the big skies in Montana. And if the skies alone aren’t amazing enough, they are often filled with eagles, hawks and even a solar eclipse this summer. I never take a sunset or sunrise for granted here.
Soon, I will be back in Ohio and buried in a busy life full of deadlines, responsibilities and goals. And I will long for a time when my existence was simply defined by the classical elements of ancient Greece.