Photo by Allen M. Jones

From the Editor: Resiliency

Montana is the kind of place that can take a toll. And not a metaphoric “gee it hurts to get out of bed” kind of toll. A literal toll. As of two years ago (according to a quick Google), the median household income in our state was $49,509, roughly $6,200 lower than the national average. It feels like higher-paying jobs may be on the way, but for now, no matter your profession, it’s tough to escape the notion that maybe, just maybe, you could be making a better living elsewhere. What would your nine hours a day be worth in Brooklyn? In Palo Alto? Seattle?

But then, no, no, no. We only have one shot at this. And by this, I mean everything. How many of your biblical allotment of days do you want to spend stuck in traffic on the BQE or the I-5 corridor? Almost everyone who lives here has made a conscious value judgment, a decision to give greater weight to the ephemerals over the financials, the quality of the life over the quality of the checkbook. It’s one of the things that we have in common. We want to seize the day, by god. Hunting, fishing, floating, climbing, camping, we’re compelled to carpe every damn diem, even if we’re driving a 20-year-old pickup to get there.

In Montana, no matter your passion, autumn is an opportunity to seize that day. When the first heavy frost kicks your tomato plants to the curb, when the first decent rainstorm in weeks leaves a dusting of snow on the Absarokas, when the flights of northerns start coming down from Alberta and brown trout redds start showing up in the Shields, when the first elk bugles and the camo starts being utilitarian rather than an affectation … This. This is why we live here. This is what makes everything else worthwhile. September, October, November. This is our reward for sticking it out.

Putting together a given issue of Big Sky Journal, I’m often surprised by how themes emerge of their own accord, how certain threads will tie the whole package together. Building this one, for instance, I was struck (relatively late in the process) by how it’s shot through with the idea of resiliency, how much the theme of stick-to-it-iveness unites what would otherwise be disparate articles. In a very personal essay about weathering a crisis and building a life in Montana, Alexis Adams finds, in the training of her bird dog, larger life truths. Tom Groneberg writes about Jim Posewitz, for generations one of the lions of regional conservation, while Alan Kesselheim profiles Yeti, an elderly hiker determined to circumnavigate Idaho, heart attacks, heat strokes, and concussions be damned. Greg Thomas pulls back the curtain on elk hunting and Greg Lemon shows us the lengths that Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks will go to in order to investigate wildlife fatalities.

This is autumn in Montana. Pull up a chair. We could be here a while.

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