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Introduction

5 July 2011

north of town

I live on a reservation in Southeast Montana, in a yellow trailer just off the main road. There’s no cellphone service on most of the reservation, and there are no numbers on the houses. The few street signs on the main roads were installed last year.

Dogs–german shepherds or light-colored shepherd mutts– wander the streets or sleep outside storefronts, many of them apparently belonging to no one. Those with owners stay near the houses, playing together or sleeping or exploring. The dogs are lean, independent.

Trailers and small houses occupy the lots, broken windows and few fences. Newcomers are advised to check expiration dates at the dusty grocery store. Drive north of the capital town and you remember what Big Sky Country means. Evening sun coats the lateral faces of sedimentary rock columns rising out of the sage and pine-dotted plains. Align your chin with your left shoulder, cast your vision around one-eighty, and nothing blocks the sky. Park your car, stand under that sky, look from left shoulder up over and down, and never anything between your retinas and the heavens.

The town to the north is a mining town, two smokestacks rising behind neatly trimmed suburban houses. Brick or wood siding, fenced-in yards, winding culs-de-sac. A whole community center with a park and an outdoor pool for kids to play in. More vegetables in the grocery store.

Drive east of this central town, then up into the hills. Come out on burnt-orange ridges, see the wrinkled skin of the earth and know how ancient it is. Watch the old Indian beside you point out a herd of antelope, then a mountain lion, and realize you’ve either forgotten or never really learned how to properly look.

This is where I live. The coming months will be about learning to look, and remembering to see.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Bruce Holbert permalink
    25 July 2011 10:28 am

    So I have read all your entries and find myself overwhelmed by the amazing intellect, depth of soul, generosity and humility of this Grace Evans character. She is my hero and that’s no jive. I am proud to know you and humbled that you are my friend.
    -Holbert

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