The house on the hill stands empty, her windows dark, save one, the red and golden stained-glass cactus rose, glowing in late-day autumn sun.

Twenty-seven years, as the first deep snow of winter fell, we moved into our hand-built house on the hill. There was no glass in the windows, we had run out of money; plastic snapped in the cold winter wind and we burned 7-cord of wood.

We filled our house on the hill with love, blood and sweat, some tears, babies grand and great, laughter locked within the walls. Watched lightning crack the sky as thunder rolled great bowling balls. Story books and popcorn in the pouring rain, trees bending to the ground.

Remember the bear in the kitchen? Standing in the garden window, looking out at us! Behind the door of each Montana day, always waiting, something wild. Moose in the yard, cougar on the trail. Hey bear, hey bear, are you there?

Swimming in ten-thousand years of glacial melt, the freezing Clark Fork River ran right by our door. Who will dive in first? Jump in, jump out. Or, quietly, without a ripple, canoe to the other side where river otters sunned on warming rocks. Bald eagles and osprey, swans, geese, ducks and loons. Sister raven, brother hawk.

Chop wood, carry water, shovel snow, stoke the stove. Nothing warms the bones like wood heat. Dogs curled up beside the hearth, they knew. In spring the garden grew. Beware varmints and pests of all shapes and sizes!  You may not eat my luscious peas! I will stone you where you stand. I am Tomato Queen, sprouting seeds indoors on every sunny surface, spindly seedlings thriving, if mice don’t nibble first. Luciano Pavarotti sings to them. Enough to share with friends and neighbors.

Dark clouds gather behind the house on the hill, warm winds howling up a storm. I hear a wailing; it’s me, crying years of tears. We are leaving. The house is sold. I will take Montana with me to Seattle where diamonds litter my neighborhood streets. Oh, wait. That’s broken glass. No matter. Diamonds or glass, they both glitter in the sun, rainbows and prisms. A new day dawns.

It’s goodbye to old Montana, where dreams have come and gone, and I’ve done all I can.

©Janis Monaco Clark