Summer.  It’s my favorite season.  It’s a great verb, too.  When we first bought Hillhouse, the idea was to “summer” here.  Oh, we said it tongue in cheek – after all, living 40 miles from a grocery store, amidst grizzly bears, on a hand dug well that often throws up its hands at us when we decide to do laundry, dishes, and showers at the same time, is not exactly like summering in the Hamptons, or on the Cape, or in Aspen.  Whole Foods does not exist within this state, to my knowledge you couldn’t hire domestic help if you tried, and our golf courses are mostly public. I don’t think our local airfield/cow pasture could handle a Gulfstream V.   Which makes it extra fun to say that you “summer” near Babb, Montana, in my book.

Except of course that we’ve crossed that shimmery line between all that’s fun and all that’s crazy, and moved from summering here to actually living here.  Full time.  Four seasons, twelve months, and every forty-degrees-below-zero-day there is each year.  Or at least, Brother Dear and I have.  Honeydew was born and raised here, and he’d never heard of “summering” anywhere, much less Babb, before we met.  In all fairness, he actually “winters” in California, with our lovely bees – “wintering” is definitely a word people use around here.  “She winters in Mexico,” one local told me about a beautiful woman after whose absence I inquired, a look of lust pooling in his bloodshot eyes.  I don’t think the lust was for the woman.  On that gunmetal gray, frosted February day, I feel pretty sure he was lusting after Mexico.

But my family is not the only family crazy enough to enjoy “summering” near Babb, in a house not quite up to Hamptons standards.  This family joins us at Hillhouse each summer, taking up residence at the old Bunkhouse, where all the Bar X 6 cowboys presumably slept, drank, and told lies about the women they lusted after.  Or maybe, over steaming coffee in a black January night, they quietly discussed the summers of their childhoods.


The Bunkhouse is one of several buildings on this property, part of the original Bar X 6 Ranch, that is not salvageable, to our sadness.  That is not to say that we do not appreciate it, nor that Brother Dear will fail to eventually, lovingly, strip it of its wood and all other parts that can be repurposed into chairs, tables, benches, and picture frames.  But the only family that will ever spend any season, much less summer, in it again, is the family above.  Do you see them?

To the right are three fox kits.  We see their mama frequently, but this was the first evening this year that we saw her kits. 

Here’s the fourth, framing herself in the doorway.  No doubt the wannabe-reality-tv-star of the bunch, bless her heart.  No word if there’s a SCRAM bracelet on her ankle.

What can I say?  These kits have consummate taste in summer homes.

We — Honeydew, Darling Summer Help, Buck, Roy, and myself — sat watching them for quite some time.  But eventually Buck’s antics began to worry them, and they retreated under the bunkhouse.

Finally, just one remained.  Clearly the Hemingway of the bunch, unfettered by the gawking humans and dogs, enjoying the still almost-summer evening despite our garishness.  Is he wondering where he might procure a fine steak, a leggy glass of cab, a French woman?  If so, he will probably need to summer elsewhere.

But we’ll still be here.  All year.  Summering, wintering, and celebrating the strange little moments that make life near Babb highly entertaining, though not exceedingly convenient.  If you’re summering here this year, stop by and say hi.

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