Matt was one of the first to greet me in my new hometown of Missoula, Montana when I moved there on my own in 2006. It felt good knowing that I knew someone in this lonely Western town surrounded by the Bitterroot mountains. We have remained long distance friends through a variety of trials, but Matt was especially important in my life after the loss of my husband and allowed me to vent on and on about my pain knowing he understood a part of it. Matt lost his twin brother. He shared this piece of writing with me two weeks ago, and it touched me and took me, visually, to a joyous memory in his life – I immediately knew I wanted to share this with all of you.
The air was crisp, with the smell of sage from the prairie coulee filling each small gust that blew from the west. My brother Tyson and I woke up early, as little boys might do who live 50 miles from any substantial town. Looking to play outside, or more importantly; wander. You see, when you grow up in a rural environment some of the best times are those spent with your feet crunching on the blue grama grass, dodging prickly pear cactus and discovering new things.
Down the coulee we progressed, each boy clad in a Wall’s Wear green insulated vest, blue jeans and miniature work boots. To the east, the landmarks of the Knees – they were two, one-hundred foot plateaus that stood up from the central plains. Their name, as we had been told, came from the people that lived here before us – the Indians. Looking at them, it was hard to imagine how they were a person’s knee – so their name and their shape were equally as foreign on this rolling prairie coulee land. To the west, was the rocky mountain front. Blue mastiffs rising out of nowhere, capped with white. A landmark that was always there to say where west was – and took the whole skyline with seemingly no beginning or end.
This was our world. One filled with wonderments that hadn’t yet been explored, but could at least be seen. And seeing, on this prairie ground dissected by ancient streams that gouged out the rims of the coulees, seeing was believing. Our path down the coulee side hill was a game trail, most likely from the mule deer that called this place their home. Marching single file down the animal path we descended and reached the bottom of the draw. Thorny patches of wild roses grew; and were to be avoided. Up again we’d go from the lush bottom, filled with grass that nearly went over our heads. Up went the trail contouring the hillside. The sunlight filled the horizon and made every blade of grass glow, as if on fire. We squinted, and held our hands up as a brim to shield our eyes from the bright sun.
We didn’t say much to each other. As our gaze cast across the landscape we knew only what we saw; that this place was something that would be here forever. And has been here forever. Despite our tender age, we knew something to be true about that. And it is on days like today, that I look back to that moment. I do not only see two little boys with their whole lives ahead of them, soaking in the juxtaposition of the mountains and the prairie. But, see my grown brother; standing shoulder to shoulder with me, both of us aged, but both of us young. Not a word said but only the understanding of each other and this place, and the knowledge that one day I too will join him on the prairie under our Montana sky.
Matt grew up on a small wheat farm in central Montana. His passions are many but he primarily loves spending time outdoors as often as he can. He’s a homebrewer that loves good hoppy beer! But, when he’s not brewing he can usually be found spending time with his big yellow Labrador Yukon, skiing, backpacking, playing ice hockey and biking in his wonderful Montana.