In this time of great uncertainty, isolation, fear, and boredom, I find comfort, strength, and gratitude in one resounding fact of my life; I live in Bozeman, Montana. QUARANTANA
It’s the middle of April. Two days ago I wore shorts outside for the first time in 6 months and today I’m watching big heavy snowflakes fall outside of my living room window while I finish my second cup of coffee. Two days ago I walked along Hyalite Creek, exchanging the occasional friendly smile and wave with cyclists and hikers encountered. Tomorrow I will put the skins on my skis and do the same as I make my way up Bridger Bowl.
Our grocery stores remain stocked and I’ve been using the unexpected extra time to prepare labor-intensive recipes that I’ve neglected for years. And yes, I’m getting fat; made all too obvious by the need to strategically place my phone at just the right angle on FaceTime or Zoom meetings, so you can’t see my chins.
The people I encounter in grocery stores are calm. We all say, “excuse me” as we pass each other, a gentle smile under our masks, evidenced by our eyes slightly squinting above them. Each morning, at the top of my inbox, is an email from the state of Montana, informing me how many new cases of this blasted virus have emerged in Gallatin County and as of today, 5 days in a row, zero new cases.
Social-distancing is not a novel concept for most Montanans
Indeed, we’re weathering this storm here. Social-distancing is not a novel concept for most Montanans; we practice it out of habit, out of a second nature that is deeply embedded in most of us: to be alone in nature! We are resilient, self-sufficient, naturalist, and humanist. Nothing can bring us down, evidenced poignantly by the people you see up in the mountains, on the rivers, hiking the College M, and meeting up in driveways in the evenings, with camp chairs distanced 6 feet apart, chatting and discussing the day’s exploits, waving at the small groups of cyclists as they pass by. In the winter, Montanan’s ski, snowboard, or otherwise divert themselves during the short days; in the spring and summer, Montanans “get after it.”
The 15 hour days allow for an early morning hike, rafting in the afternoon, ending the long summer day with a bonfire under endlessly starry skies in the evening. And we do it, mostly, in small groups of our closest friends and adventure-buddies.
I’d rather be than here, in paradise, in Bozeman
All over the world, people are slowing down and reflecting. All over the world, people are seeing their neighbors in a new light. All over the world, people are waking up to a new reality, seeing how big we really are, how little control we really have, and beginning to understand what really matters.
I miss going to the office in the morning. I miss my friend and broker Nolan and our morning routine of walking across the street to Rockford Coffee for the best Americano in the world. I miss the vibrant nightlife that we have here in Bozeman and I miss eating meals that aren’t prepared by my own two hands. That said, as long as I have the Bridger mountains to the East, the Tobacco Roots to the West, the Spanish Peaks to the South, and all of the rivers and people that lie between, I’m happy and consider myself a blessed man. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, London, and Milan and there’s no place I’d rather be than here, in paradise, in Bozeman.