Sunday, August 30, 2015

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine
Sky of Blue, Sea of Green; those words from the great American spiritual, “Yellow Submarine”, make me homesick for my Montana. What? Yes, of course, the song is originally English but so is much of our heritage which we call American. I like the idea of a yellow submarine bobbing through the seas of adversity. We are all in the boat, a comfort.
            What? Another question? Yes, indeedy, sky of blue describes Montana famously. So does sea of green. Well, sometimes it is sea of brown or sea of white. Depends on the season. You got me with that. But climb up onto a hillside and scan the horizon almost anywhere in eastern Montana. Our sea of grasses grow where once lapped a vast sea of water, bounded by giant walls of ice. And the edges of that sea that once was here stands out, clearly or in faint outlines, dependent on the light and time of day. More poetically, wheat or grasslands, the wind creates waving surf, similar to the ocean tides.
            So as long as I’ve begun dissecting this song, let me continue. “Life of ease”, I have trouble with myself. Montanans have never been exactly defined by living a life of ease, more the opposite, I would say.
It is hard work enough just being a person. We have to get up, get out of bed, scrub, brush and floss, make coffee, get dressed for the day and get on with it, whatever that means to each of us. And we have to do this every single day. That ain’t always easy, folks.
But since I am acknowledging this song as a spiritual, let me consider that most of us have what we need. It might be only what we need for this day, but from that same spiritual standpoint, I can only use today what I can use today. End of argument. 
            Moving on: “We all live in a yellow submarine”. Catchy tune, that. We are in the same boat, paint it what color you like. I prefer to think of you and me and he and she as living in a snow globe. Most of the time we sit on the shelf, undisturbed. But every now and then our little world gets shaken up most violently.
            This seems to be one of those times that a giant hand has lifted the snow globe, shook it and perhaps dropped it. It feels like we might be still bouncing around, rolling down hill. Or if you prefer, our submarine is floundering in typhoon seas. Our world seems to be upside down and inside out. Not just here but everywhere.
            What is this craziness? Vancouver Island and British Columbia are on fire. Washington State and Idaho are burning. Boggy Saskatchewan is pitted with fires. Severe drought has parched the entire west coast. So far, southern Alberta and most of Montana are moist and green, though one might flinch at the manner in which the moisture is flung about the skies, helter-skelter with violence. 
            Selfishly I worry. I am homesick. My bags are packed. In less than a month I will be in Montana. Will there be a Montana with green grass prairie, amber waves of grain when I land? Or will the snow globe have filled with ash? Wasn’t it in ’88, the last time Montana burned?
            Montana as place is always my deepest love. Montana is in my soul. I cannot help myself. Place imbeds, imprints, scours, scrapes and polishes us. Us—We—the people.
 I yearn to return to my people, to reconnect. It is fitting that on arrival I attend our high school class reunion. From there I seek out family and friends in Harlem, Havre, Glendive, Kalispell, Great Falls. Not in any specific order but where the winds guide me.  
We Montanans seem to think we have an edge on life and maybe we do. But no matter where in the world, we all live in the same “yellow submarine”. Yes, yes, I worry ahead of time over what might not happen. I can’t control a thing. What I do know is that we—you and me and you—are survivors. Whatever comes, we will pick up ourselves, pick up the pieces and carry on. We are in this crazy snow-globe world together, yellow submarine indeed.  
Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

July 9, 2015

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