Montana by Tara Roberts

photo of montana landscape at sunset with one peak peaking out of plains -- image shot through pine trees

Sometimes it’s a Saturday afternoon and you lie down to take a nap, and after 20 minutes you get up and say you want to drive to Montana because, come on, it’s right there, and everyone —including you —has been pointing out lately that you’ve never been there. And your husband, who is so much more practical than you, reminds you how long it takes to get to Montana, even from this part of North Idaho, and how much you have to do at home, and suggests you keep trying that nap. So you go back to bed, and 10 minutes later you say, “Maybe we could just go to Kamiak Butte instead.” He agrees, maybe only because it’s not Montana, and you put on your shoes and dress the kids and slice apples and make a peanut butter sandwich with the last two slices of bread. The kids pack stuffed puppies. The drive is faster than you remember. You bribe the kids up the butte with M&Ms. You hope the storm clouds stay to the west, and they do. You take pictures of trees and sky and sun shining through the trees and sky above trees and your kids in front of trees and rocks and moss. The baby cries because you are holding his hand, or because you aren’t. Your older son could hike the mountain by himself, but he still holds your hand, sometimes. At the top, while your husband and kids set up the picnic, you balance your camera on a rock and a stuffed puppy and set the timer and try to get everyone in the frame with the view. You’ve heard, or think you’ve heard, that you can see all the way to Montana from Kamiak Butte. You can’t tell, but then, you wouldn’t know what Montana looks like, would you? You mess with the camera too much. You never really get the picture you want, but you’re pretty sure you couldn’t anyway. Because wherever it is you’re looking at from the top of Kamiak Butte, sometimes it’s a Saturday afternoon and it looks like the entire world.

Tara-RobertsTara Roberts is a writer and teacher who lives in Moscow, Idaho, with her family. Her essays and short stories have appeared in Moss, Bayou, and “Give: An Anthology of Anatomical Entries.” She has now been to Montana several times and learned that you can’t actually see it from Kamiak Butte (but you can see a whole lot of other things).



STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Bjorn

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