The years go by and while some traditions fade away, some new ones take shape. This is the fourth summer I’ve visited my friends on Flathead Lake in the month of August, and I could get used to it. In Montana, early summer is as unpredictable any other season, but once you get into August there’s a good chance of blue skies and shimmering blue water here at the lake, and an even better chance of a subtle breeze should the day get too warm. Excuse me while I get another cup of coffee.
It doesn’t get better than this. Some places I’ve been, you use that line and it’s the set-up to the punchline: “That’s what I’m afraid of.” Right here and right now, it’s pretty close to the truth. My Montana family is still talking about the endless winter of 2010-2011, and about the wettest and coldest spring in recent memory. I know that I’m cheating now, showing up for the best of the weather after a leisurely winter in Florida. This beautiful day is mostly unearned. I’m OK with that. While I often miss the the cruel capriciousness of Montana weather, I’m content to know it now through secondhand accounts.
So, yeah: I have become a tourist in the land where I was born. I’m OK with that too. Sort of. I still curse the enormous motor homes trundling around Flathead Lake, and the plump Tommy Hilfiger types who treat their servers poorly. But Montana has changed a lot over the years. It’s getting hard to tell who’s a tourist and who isn’t. At this point I don’t suppose it matters. No matter where we go, we’re all just passing through. How nice it is to linger awhile here by the lake.