Montana Authors Project

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I compare Louise to the land, connect the idea of her somehow to when I was a kid and we'd have to go to wakes in Camas Prairie. I can see for miles and I can't stop looking or thinking about how lucky I am to see this country, to belong here. Something about Louise and something about all the Indians here is something about me, a blood kinship, a personal history shared. (28)…

Nothing, tree or mountain, weakens wind coming for the throat. Even wind must work when land gets old. The rotting wagon tongue makes fun of girls who begged to go to town. Broken brakerods dangle in the dirt.…

...the Basin country began to feel winter fastening into the very pit of its stomach. I helped load what was left of a neighbor's sheep into boxcars there at Sixteen. Those sheep were so hungry they were eaten' the wool off each other. And even the desperation hay began to run out. If we could of got another ten ton, we could of saved a lot of cattle. But-we-could-not-get-it. Cows struggled to stay alive now by eating willows thick as a man's thumb. (36)…

The car moved slowly along under "the richest hill in the world." The copper mines stood there on the top of the hill, and there was a kind of beauty in their callousness. You can't get away from us, they taunted [John Donnelly]. You'd better hurry and come down and get to work. Without us, you couldn't live or eat, you couldn't love. You would be nothing without us. The tall frames of mines, keen and cruel against the metallic sky....The car entered the town, rumbling along East Broadway and then turning south on Main. (53)…

The main ranch house, which John and I took over, stood at the base of one steep hill facing south to another, with the bunkhouse, outbuildings and corrals taking up the flat ground at the bottom of the pocket. Driving down the lane toward our ranch felt like aiming at the ends of the earth—nothing but hardpan and the suggestion of pines in the distance—when suddenly you popped over a steep hill and the ranch buildings spread out below, cradled in a bend of Fourchette Creek. (218)…

I approached Belle Fourche, where wisps of chimney smoke fought upward through the downpour. The town looked scrubbed, the dry wood buildings sparkling with water, every vehicle free of dust, and dogs romping through the streets, their hair slicked down against their hides. The people outside either held something over their heads or let the water run from the brims of their hats, like the stream from a pump. I didn't see any umbrellas. Nobody'd had reason to own an umbrella for some time. (281)…

[Louise] could see the green edge of the Flathead River in the near distance. The water looked thin. She could see the chalky slump of hills that crowned the banks, the tall pine trees that shadowed the water. All this time, she thought, she had been talking to her grandmother, and her sister was in the river. (180)…

Tomorrow will open again, the sky wide as the mouth of a wild girl, friable clouds you lose yourself to. You are lost in miles of land without people, without one fear of being found, in the dash of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl and merge and clatter of streams.…

By the time Grandma and I moved there, Ringling stood as only a spattered circle of houses around several large weedy foundations. The adult population was about 50 persons, almost all of them undreamably old to me, and the livelihoods were a saloon, a gas station, a post office, Mike Ryan's store, the depot, and exactly through the middle of town the railroad tracks which glinted and fled instantly in both directions. (126)…

Zola walked along Park Street looking into shop windows, measuring her dollars and cents against the prices of dresses, slippers and hats on display. John turned over three dollars of his daily wages to her and out of that she paid the rent for the flat, the money for food and what was left she could expend on clothes. There was very little left. In the old days, she had made good money, and her closets were always gay and fragrant and colorful with dresses and wraps. (100)…
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