Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Monday, August 22, 2011

World's Best Mountain


Mine. You can look, but remember who it belongs to . . .

Mountains.
Beautiful. Majestic. Snow-capped. Towering.
Noticeable.
I love the mountains.
Maybe not as much as my husband, who is a true connoisseur, but why quibble over details?
All my life, I have lived in the 'shadow' of the great Rockys.
They were the immovable, dependable wall to the west of us.
Our friends.
Companions.
Source of direction.
One distinctive peak, in particular, was familiar to us on the ranch.
It was our nearest neighbour in the immense range. A huge block of stone, standing alone, with a large, rather squared-off top.
Boy scout troops had been know to clamber to its very summit.
Of course, that was in the early days, before safety was invented.
I loved it.
It was my mountain.
I just couldn't remember what it was called.
When we drove west, towards the ranch, it was the beacon, the marker on the horizon that told us we were going in the right direction.
Not a fact that I discovered with my fantastic powers of observation, however.
I had to have it pointed out.
Mom and I were heading towards the ranch.
She was driving.
I was bouncing around in the back seat.
This was before such safety measures as . . . seat belts. Shoulder harnesses.
Discipline.
I had been laying on the back seat, staring up at the roof.
Suddenly, I thought of my mountain.
I don't know why.
Because.
I sat up and leaned over the front seat.
“Mom?”
“Mmm?”
That was her usual response. It didn't necessarily mean that her attention was yours, but it was a start.
“Mom!”
“What, Dear.”
Okay, the line was open.
“Where's the Old Indian Hill?”
“The what?”
“The Old Indian Hill.”
She laughed.
Well, really!
“Do you mean Old Chief Mountain?”
“Umm, okay.” Whatever. I just knew that the name had something to do with the Native tribes.
“It's right there, Sweetheart. Straight ahead. When we're driving to the ranch, it's right in front of the road.”
“Oh.”
She was right. There it was. Rising before us in all its purple glory.
Cool.
I stared at it.
My mountain.
From then on, whenever we were travelling home, I would look out the windshield for my stalwart, immovable beacon.
My guardian. My defender and protector.
The Blackfoot Tribe called it, Ninastiko.
The white man named it many things.
But, to me, it would always be my beloved 'Indian Hill'.

6 comments:

  1. It is my mountain too. I am so blessed to see it out my window. I could take pictures of it everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post! Well... I love all your posts, but who's counting, right?

    I have a mountain too... my beacon that tells me I'm home. Well, there are two actually - Flat Top, right in town - an extinct volcano that lost its top, hence the name. And Escudilla. I love them. I'm very sad because most of Escudilla burned in our 500,000+ acre Wallow Fire this summer... :(

    And I remember bouncing around in the back of my mom's Mustang and holding the babies for her as we would drive to visit her parents several times a year. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive. We always got there safely... even without seatbelts.

    Thanks for helping me to remember this morning. Good writers help us to remember the good things in our lives that are tucked away - you have quite a talent for that! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get names mixed up to this day:) Drives my hubby crazy. Love what you did to your background.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You create such a great picture with your words - thanks for sharing your talent.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I actually found the myth of the name.

    For the story check it our here.
    http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/ChiefMountain-Blackfoot.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love that mountain! And I remember the complete lack of restraint in the car growing up. Along with the "Don't cross on my side!" "Mom, she's breathing on me again!" and so on and so forth.

    ReplyDelete

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