Last summer I stood with my wife on the edge of a sheer cliff in Glacier National Park. We stared down towards the massive Grinnell Glacier. In that moment we decided to move to Montana. We could have picked anywhere in the country, but we decided to make this remote region our home, the center of our universe.
As a writer, I am surprised that I am at a loss of words to describe why we chose to live in the Flathead Valley. Perhaps it’s the fact we’ll be on the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, a definite advantage as the planet becomes hotter and drier. Or maybe the proximity to the raw, jagged beauty of Glacier National Park lifts my soul. Or perhaps we were just drawn to the great skiing, hoping our daughter can experience winter as the autumn lingers longer and spring accelerates bit by bit, year by year.
I can work anywhere with internet and my wife had multiple job offers at hospitals across the country. I can’t tell you one rational reason why we chose Montana, so perhaps the rationale lies deeper in emotion. In loss.
By the year 2030, all of the glaciers in Glacier(less) National Park will be gone. They will lose their stately names as they melt into the sea. Perhaps there is some guilt here, like the way we might not visit a relative for years, but once she is on her deathbed, we feel compelled to visit, to commune, to see our beloved before she loses her earthly form.
I want to be there as it melts. I want to hike back to Grinnell Glacier with my then teenage daughter in the year 2030. I will want to say, “I’m sorry.” I will want to say, “I tried.”