"Wilder than a brushfire burns deep inside the bramble
Baby, I think God made your soul born to ramble
Maybe you'll take to the far away places
Where life is gonna deal you a hand full of aces
But it doesn't really matter how great the spaces
We're chained, and when everything else changes our love will stay the same
We're chained, and when everything else goes away our love will still remain"
Getting Married, Again
This past summer we got married, again. Well, this was more of a wedding celebration, a celebration where we were able to invite our friends and family on this side of the ocean, to the state that holds our hearts, Montana. Last Christmas we went skiing at a place called Homestake Lodge, outside Butte, MT. It was one of those places where you felt like you were in heaven, snow on the trees, newly groomed cross-country ski tracks and rolling hills and mountains. I happened to notice that the lodge also hosts wedding parties, and after some debating over where to have our wedding celebration, we decided to pick Homestake Lodge.
There are many wedding venues around Bozeman, Montana. I really wanted a place surrounded by mountains. We talked about renting a forest service cabin, but with all the additional logistics that a place like that would bring, and our limited budget we figured that we probably were better of with a place that had the amenities a social gathering like this would require. Paradise Valley is as it sounds like a very beautiful place, located between Bozeman and Gardiner. I have seen many different lodges around there, all beautiful and all very expensive to rent. Instead, we dialed down on Homestake Lodge in the mountain pass between Bozeman and Butte and right on the Continental Divide. Homestake Lodge itself is this beautiful rustic cabin that sits on top of a small hill overlooking the deep forest and the mountains surrounding it. We rented the whole place, which included a couple of cabins and one yurt. It was a great way to host a wedding celebration, having the option for a lot of people to stay at the lodge and surrounding cabins. Butte is only about 20 minutes away, so we had a few guests who went back there as the afternoon slowly transitioned into the late evening. It was my dream wedding, being surrounded by these mountains and the deep forest.
We are a Fiery Couple
The morning of the wedding we found ourselves driving from Bozeman to Homestake Lodge through Homestake Pass. Smoke from wildfires across the state covered the pass and the mountains surrounding Bozeman. The smell of fire was in the air. In some sense, this is kind of ironic, because we both study fires, so of course our bond to each other would be tied during a fiery day like this. Every time we drive anywhere in this state I have this feeling of excitement and love in my heart, love for all this nature surrounding us that is also tying us together.
We met once upon a time when I moved into the cabin across the driveway from W's cabin. Since then we have helped each other with fieldwork in our different systems. W has helped me in the deep forests of interior Alaska, and I have helped him in the deep forests of Yellowstone National Park. We have lived apart for several years to be able to pursue our PhDs, me in Alaska and him in Wisconsin until I was done with all my fieldwork and was able to join him in Wisconsin.
Walking down the aisle
In my dreams leading up to this wedding, everything was already planned, my mom and dad would be there. I would finally be able to show my parents one of the many places that now holds my heart. Life doesn't always turn out the way you expect them to, and mom passed away about 10 months before the wedding. She had been so excited and had already planned everything she wanted to do and see. My dad came alone, but instead of thinking about all the sadness surrounding the fact that my mom was not able to be there, we made this trip all about us. We drove together all the way from Madison WI, through Badlands National Park, through the Beartooth Pass, and through Yellowstone until we finally arrived in Bozeman a few days later. We camped along the way, and dad had not been sleeping in a tent since the 70's or 80's. And then at the wedding, my dad finally got to walk me down the aisle.
Not your average kind of wedding
We are not the average type of people, so our wedding was not the average kind. We chose for instance very untraditional music for the wedding. We walked down to Brandy Carlile's "We're Chained", had two of our poet friends marry us, and walked out to John Prine and Iris Dement "In Spite of Ourselves". Because we are not your average type of human. We have been shaped by our surroundings, W in the backcountry of Montana, and then the forests of Alaska, and me as a full-on city girl from central Stockholm with my heart in northern Sweden, and then the sharp turn to dry cabin life in Alaska. We don't blink or hesitate about camping along a frozen river at 20 below and get up and do a 20K ski race the next day. We see possibilities where others see problems.
A Dream Wedding
As the afternoon turned to evening the hazy air, created by the smoke from all the wildfires, developed a beautiful veil over our wedding venue. You could smell the fire in the air, but those fires were far away from where we were. The kids were playing and family and friends helped out to bring the dessert out to the pavilion where the homemade smoked pulled pork dinner had been served. W had spent days with his aunts' husband, smoking the pork on low heat. We moved between tables and talked to all of our friends we hadn't seen in a long time.
A Couple of Post-Wedding Photos
Before the darkness arrived and within the magic hour of sunset and light we went out and took some pictures of us with my dad. So that we could keep some memories from this wonderful day. We didn't hire any photographer but instead we took turns taking pictures of each other, and I think we did a good job!
There were a couple of cabins at Homestake Lodge and many beds at the actual lodge, and then additionally we had the yurt. W and I decided to stay at the yurt because we would not mind using an outhouse, or the fact that the place had no running water, it would be just as in Alaska. Past midnight, in the dark summer night we found ourselves trekking back to our yurt. We managed to get one of the lanterns from the party because of course our headlamps were already in the yurt. We kind of knew how to get to the yurt, but since the lantern was not that bright, and we did have a bit to walk it was a bit of challenge. I instantly started thinking about this Swedish comedy where they are waiting for Santa to come. A Santa that they dropped off, a couple of km from the cabin, with a car. The guy was supposed to bring all the gifts on a sled back to the cabin, equipped with a sled, the bag of gifts and the lantern and a bottle of whiskey he slowly approached the cabin, and about two hours later (much later than what they had anticipated) he finally arrived. We finally arrived at our yurt and slept until sunrise, which was a few hours later...
The Morning After
The morning after the wedding we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise. I don't know if you have ever experienced a sunrise in a fire-prone environment with wildfires surrounding you, but the sunrises with the smoky veil are always out of this world. We woke up filled with beautiful memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Later that day we went on a short hike with some of our friends and later on camped by a lake, in the deep forests of Montana.