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A lot of folks think Montana is mountains and trees and big rivers—pretty country.

That’s part true—over west. That’s what the state tourist people are always promotin’. But here we’re mostly flat so the wind blows snow all the way from northern Canada through the cracks in our shacks, and it gets colder than a witch’s kiss. In summer it gets hotter ‘n hell, too, and so dry we’ve had three-year-old frogs don’t know how to swim. The only way most of us survive is to hunker down into coulees where, sometimes, old rotten cottonwoods grow by a dry crick bed and spoil the wind. Even so, the grit gets in our food and wears down our teeth.