I still remember my mom trying to explain about The Man. I was very young, not yet in school, and at the age where I thought the sun rose and set on my parents. They were the source of all wisdom.
I tried hard to understand my Mom’s enthusiasm and awe, but could only grasp that The Man was very special and I was to always look for him. She would bend down to my level and explain how to find him. I remember once, not wanting to disappoint her, nodding in agreement until she smiled and stood back up.
Then one day I understood. I saw him.
I knew immediately he was the one she’d been talking about. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
I felt the mystic and wonder of it all with an immediate heart connection. Mom was right! It was The Man I’d been looking for.
As I grew, he was always on my mind. When I went to softball practice or to swim at Memorial Park I would sneak glimpses of him. If I walked up Lamborn Avenue to buy candy at Terry’s Convenient Store or go to Ray Bjorke Elementary School I could stare at him unhindered. Especially when I hiked up Mount Helena. I would sit on rocks covered with orange lichen and marvel and dream.
I could stare at him for hours.
I could feel his presence.
And I never lost the wonder of it all.
After all, he was there every day of my life. Always there. I was ready for him to awaken and make my dreams come true, because he made fairy tales seem believable.
Now in my adulthood, he’s still The Man of my dreams. He is my childhood love and my familiar friend. He is the symbol of beauty, Creation, and imagination.
I’ve introduced him to all my children and someday hope to introduce him to my grandchildren.
I will lean down to their level, whisper the secret of the Helena valley, and introduce them to
The Man of my Childhood Dreams.
The Sleeping Giant enjoying the colors of a sunset during the Last Chance Stampede and Fair Rodeo in 2012.
This is the view from the small mountain in front of Mount Helena, or the H Mountain.
You can either sit on an outcropping of rocks or a park bench.
When we were teens you could drive your truck up to this spot.
Or so my friends told me.
Now, they’ve fenced it up.
If you take I-15N out of Helena and head to Great Falls,
you’ll feel like you’re driving in his wilderness bedroom.
You might worry about what to do in case he wakes up.
That would be some serious morning breath to fight.
The haze of forest fires always changes the mountain view. This is from August 2006.
Was there a nostalgic geological phenomenon in your childhood? Or was there some special place you traveled to that still gives you that magical feel of childhood?
I grew up in Ontario, but my dad’s family lived in B.C.. With 4 kids, flying wasn’t a option, so we drove across the country many times. There was always a competition to be the first to see the mountains–the real mountains with snow on them. There were always false sightings–clouds over the foothills– but the first real mountain we saw was such a celebration. (Of course, a big part of the celebration was knowing we were getting closer to freedom from the confines of the car).
We later lived in B.C.for two years, and when we were packed up and driving back to Ontario, my last glimpse of the mountains was heart breaking. I decided in that moment that I would return as soon as I finished high school, and I did. I spent 5 years living in B.C.as a young adult and loved every minute of it.
Getting married and moving to Florida had the same effect as my earlier move. I wasn’t able to visit even once in the 7 years I was there. And even though I was surrounded by wonderful people, I just couldn’t be happy so far from my mountains.
I’ve been in Seattle for over 4 years now, and it’s a different range from the mountains I loved so much as a child, but every time I crest one of the ridges driving east or west and get a clear view if the Cascades or Olympics, I get that same feeling of being right where I belong.