My little eyes opened slowly to the sounds of birds chirping, gentle rays of early morning sunlight peeking in from the tiniest spaces between the curtains and the window frame. I rolled over to check the time:
Sunrise had arrived in Gallatin and I was lucky enough to wake and meet it. Usually, when I wake up in this room, on this ridge, and at this time, snow is gently falling on the trees, climbing up the windows and log walls of the cabin, smoke rising from the chimneys of the houses in the valley below, and the mountains are sleeping giants in the distance – the world is still very much in hibernation and The Quiet is very much alive.
But on this summer morning, the scene, sights and sounds of this favorite place of mine were all new, and frankly, exactly as green, peaceful, expansive and vibrant as I had imagined them. And, I had a whole week to enjoy them.
I love coming back to this place, and loved it even more in the summer than I do in the winter. (If that is even possible.) I loved waking up in the morning to go for long trail runs, spending the day shooting, riding about in the woods, hiking the trails (too numerous to count) right in the backyard if only to admire the fields and fields of wildflowers at their ends. Derek taught me how to ride a motorcycle (at last,) we drank wine, watched sunsets, enjoyed long dinners, and deep dishes of cobbler. Some days we spent at the pool, drives in the mountains enjoyed the most spectacular fireworks display that I have seen in my adult life (in the backyard, fired from a golfcart in the open field behind the house,) and most of all, we relaxed as much as people who enjoy one another’s company possibly can when they finally have a chance to play together.
And, as we bounced home – 16 hours back to Oakland – we were all smiles with a holiday week well spent. What wonderful companions we have. Truly, this must be some slice of the good life, we think.
But most of all, we were beaming because of that same Quiet that is ever present. And, its not like we don’t try to giggle, shoot, yell and frolic over it. But somehow, its presence just allows us to laugh louder, think deeper, and enjoy each moment a little bit more authentically. Just knowing it exists makes us happy, and knowing where to find it makes us even happier. Its behind the echoes as you call your name out from the tops of the peaks, and lies underneath the cheerful sounds of the birds that wake you up. It fills the house when everyone is asleep, or when your book is open asking you to read, and it is in the moments just before the sun sets and everyone finds their pair to watch it fall beyond the horizon. It is still, and non-vibrating, sporatic or manic — just steady and strong.
The Quiet doesn’t live here in Oakland, and for the past few days when I wake up I notice its absence. Instead, I am quick to notice the white noise, and the way it seems to shake me awake rather than woo me into the day. It lies in the place behind meditative moments, where The Quiet should be. Sirens go off at night, and the sounds from the highway stretching into San Francisco is enough to float the 2 miles from the bridge to our bedroom window.
In Montana, I almost can feel as if the sounds of the butterflies landing on the leaves shaking in the wind is audible. Here, it seems that this and all of the other sounds of the city have piled on top of each other to create a low din, or a choreographed symphony that isn’t always music to the ear.
I have a love hate with these beats of the city, for sure. But there is no question that I love that Quiet. And I cannot wait to get back to it.