Summer Salts

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June 13th– I’ve been going down to the lake during all my spare moments. It’s just barely warm enough to swim in. When I dive under the water and open my eyes, and all I can see are the rocks shimmering with light and this dense, endless blue– I have the most exhilarating feeling of being all alone in new territory. (It’s like something I kind of remember dreaming about)…

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June 14th– Tonight I went down to the dock with Shay’s phone and tried to get a signal.
I lay on the dock, bobbing up and down. So much dark sky, every shade of black, and no stars. The breeze tapered through me and breathed on me and lifted off of me in all directions. My hair was lifted and tossed up and I was so sumptuously cool. There is always this incredible wall of white sounds– a collective exhale of the wind in the trees, shaking every leaf and needle. And the waves tossing pebbles, churning against the boats. It was soft and cold and a relief. I’m sweating now in this confounded dorm.
(Dreams are born from bodies of water.)

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July 15th– Sun drenched afternoons down by the lake. All the kids swim and smoke and listen to music, and take turns battling each other off of their pirate floats. In the evenings people will have a few beers by the slack lines and jam, most of us very poorly. Kevin, a guy who’s been doing maintenance here for years, plays sad folksy songs about traveling and being lonesome. Progress on my banjo is slow. He told me I should learn the cowboy chords and dance with my thumb a little. Sound advice, I think.

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July 4th– I had a very authentic ‘Montanan’ Fourth of July. I went to a little town called Hungry Horse– the tradition there is that people set up on both sides of the main road and launch fireworks at each other all night. We bought piles of fireworks and blasted music from Josh’s volkswagon van. Things were exploding everywhere, all around me were constant pops and booms and whoops! The sky was a hazy pink from smoke.
Between everyone from Lake McDonald, we had over 600 dollars worth of things to explode. People would set something off and then dance and leap over, cackling wildly. God I love fireworks. I hated to leave.

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June 23rd– I drove up the Going to the Sun Road with a couple of kids, early in the morning– it was all white and dreamy fog, swirling like steam boiling off of water. In one moment we were driving through the thick white, with a wall of snow to our left. Suddenly, some big horned sheep– 3 or 4– come galloping out of the abyss towards us, and in an instant disappeared back into the fog. Rangers helped us identify wolverine tracks in the snow at Logan’s Pass. Life and beauty everywhere!

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July 6th– Tonight a few of us went skinny dipping. The lake was beautiful and blue and shrouded in fog. We ran down to the waters edge, giggling madly and stripping off clothes. And then with explosions of barely suppressed laughter, we crashed into the water, shrieking and howling. I hopped out, and then back in, trying to adjust to the freezing cold… Jessica sat on the bank during all of this, calmly charting the stars in her astronomy journal. After some time mostly everyone left. I sat on the bank with Josh and Erin; two polar bears. We decided that a fierce beast called the Strunk lives at the bottom of the lake, and then we talked in Strunk-ish voices until we were so cold we couldn’t hardly stand it. The stars were all out, and shone so bright they reflected in the water. It was overwhelmingly large and breathtakingly quiet.

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July 21st– Walked with Hillary and Ben and a bottle of wine to the visitors center to stargaze, We lay on our backs on the parking lot talking about how incredibly small we were, livers and scars (Ben’s was a giant T on his stomach) and infinity and outer space and astronomy. When we were all thoroughly overwhelmed by it all, we just giggled hysterically until our laughter became strange. I laughed at Hillary’s laugh. They put their arms around my shoulders and I steered us back for a ways until we all collapsed again for more stars and laughing.

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