Remember those “back to school” writing assignments? Remember what
we wrote about, how our summers really were back then? Yeah, me too.
We rode our bikes down to the park, we went to the swimming pool, we
played goofy-golf with our cousins, played baseball, visited Grandma &
Grandpa in Des Moines, or wherever… we got the measles and our brother
or sister broke their ankle on a skateboard… oh, I went too far there?? No,
not really. Back in ’55 three of the “bigger kids” here in Virginia City, Joe Beardsley, John Sprunger and Alan Poindexter screwed some roller skates onto a couple
of short two-by-fours and jumped on them and rolled down the sidewalk.
Honest to god. Ricky and Eddy Gohn used to have one or two of them
in their dad’s garage. Strangely, I don’t recall that any of us got hurt on
those things. If I’m wrong, I’ll hear about it…
Little Stevie & “The Heroic Catch” – summer of ’52
Ahhh. Those summers when we were in grade school, or what is now
called middle school. We were growing, we were trying things, we knew
how to have a good time. We could go fishing by ourselves, we were
learning how to swim, maybe even a few of us had tried a cigarette.
I remember thinking my parents had no clue how to dig deep into a summer
of freedom and fun, unless they, by chance, took me to the Columbia
gardens, or camping up at Wade Lake. Or sent me off to Seattle for
two weeks to stay with relatives…
And in that spirit, it is now about sixty years later. And, once again, to
your potential chagrin, I’m going to write my school paper one more time,
on “My Summer Vacation.” Cinch ’em up…
I got with some dear friends from Williamsburg, VA, who have discovered
Montana and know what it really is. We hung out here and enjoyed The Bale
Of Hay and our Late June weather together. It was so fine. They get it.
Then I hosted two fine young men from Atlanta for part of their summer
vacation. They brought back to me my own college days, the spontaneity
and joy of creating moments, suspended in time, that we would remember
always. Turned out they hosted me on an absolutely great ten days.
And amidst all this fun, frolicking and general outdoor, up-in-the-woods
and out-on-the-river merriment… I found a new love.
Betty J., from Seattle, flew in July 28th. And that changed everything.
If I thought I was having a great summer before, well… I can’t tell you.
The short version is, she spent a month here with me, and we hit the
hills, the lakes, the gulches, valleys and high country.
We camped together, kayaked together, explored and had picnics together. It started out as having someone to share my beloved Montana with. And it became so much more.
She met some of my friends… she liked them, they liked her. She loved
the high country and was up for any challenge I put forth to her.
She seemed at ease in every situation we were in, and I quickly realized that everything we were doing together was twice as fun as when I did those things alone…… because she so enhanced all the things I love to do here. She created a new realization of a known territory for me. She helped make it all new and adventurous for me again.
Yes. I suddenly had a new companion to try new things with, to hold hands
with, to laugh with, to share the beauty of this special place with…. and to
show me what I’d been missing before she came into my life.
This is not a replay of The Summer Of ’42. But it is the summer of two
people who have already lived a full life, raised families, lost their spouses, by death and divorce, and still found new love, and new meaning to life. We would hope that, somewhere in that, is the inspiration for other “seniors” to realize that their lives, and romance, are not necessarily over until they decide that it’s over. Betty and I might have suspected that our romantic years were over, but obviously we still held to hope. And our hopes have been fulfilled.
Betty is brave, always willing to take chances, within reason. She has an
innate courage to do what she needs to do, at any given moment. She
doesn’t ask a lot of questions, she doesn’t pursue a lot of “what if’s…”
she decides to do a thing and then she does it. A remarkable woman,
an inspirational woman. And yes, I have thus far, deftly dodged the most
difficult question. “What the hell is she doing with me???” Honestly,
I have no clue. She’s at home in much of the world, being very well-travelled,
and seems to relish any new adventure which might take her to a new place,
a new appreciation, a new perspective… , my B is not afraid.
With all that, she also appreciates a good glass of wine next to the fire
in the hearth. I’ve never known a woman like her. She reads people well
and relates to the good ones. Betty loves jazz, knows quite a bit about it
and still helps me gather a load of wood in Iron Jack up in the high country.
She is a woman, through and through, and the best companion I’ve ever
known…… how could I not love her?
But let’s get rough here. This paper was supposed to be what? One hundred
words? Ah well, forget that. Sure, maybe back in 1952… but everything else
is inflated beyond reason, right? Why not “My Summer Vacation??” But we’ll
give it the ol’ college try, boiling it down to the somewhat bare essentials. And
it should be fairly easy to do at this point, as I’ve already been able to share
the heart of my summer with you in the above paragraphs. So the following
will be for “the teacher” and I’m expecting an “A” for my considerable efforts.
Last summer?? Oh, easy. I spent valuable time with friends I’ve known for
almost 50 years… dear friends, their kids and their grandkids, who are delightful. I hosted two young men from Atlanta in their early twenties, and assisted them
on their Montana adventure, to explore the high country and catch (and fry up,
in fine fashion) some fresh Montana trout.