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  • Andrea Durnell

Going Home Again

There is a lot that goes into maintaining a level of motivation and inspiration to create art as a living. This year has had a few challenges, the largest being hand surgery last fall and trying to keep up while this longer than expected recovery is taking place.

While I appreciate my lifestyle and being able to spend most of my days in my studio or at my workbench as I am currently doing, I don't have an endless resource of internal inspiration and occasionally benefit from stepping away. How can my carvings have an adventurous spirit and a life well lived if I am not doing so myself? After all, my work is an extension of myself.

This year, I decided to take a trip to Montana to revisit many of my favorite haunts from living and growing up in this great state. My mom turns 90 this month and my daughter had time to work in a trip with me. I started carving again in May and my hands are going to need to wind up to the task slowly. Even if I am mentally prepared to carve a new menagerie, I am giving myself permission for it to be a more modest size if that is all I can do well.

So, we booked our tickets and an itinerary of "must do" began to unfold. I spent a few years driving around Montana before we moved away and I should have known better than to pack this time with so many places. If you haven't driven around Montana, it is really vast! But, not only is it vast, it is exceptionally beautiful and you really do not want to plan a trip that doesn't have time to stop, walk, and marinate in the clean air, sun and scenery. We abbreviated the itinerary midway through our trip.

We stopped at diners. And bakeries. And microbreweries and the local watering holes. We hiked. We kayaked. And shopped. We stayed at the little motor inns and cabins in the many small towns. We enjoyed the open road (including a flat tire) and soaked in the local flavors. Montana is still all about that. It is easy to avoid chain restaurants and fast food there, impossible to over-indulge on your computer or cell phone, and unavoidable to be inundated with sights that feed the soul and leave you in awe. Leaving behind interstates and traffic and crowds was a treat. Seeing the milky way in all its glory a privilege and reward. Breathing in the crisp, clean air and drinking the glacial waters high up in the mountains, exquisite.

I'm home. I'm full of memories. I am entrenched in a few carvings that may just reflect where I have been. A few of the titles I am using to continue this summer's inspiration are as follows:

Storytelling in Yellowstone: Horse and Buggy Tours by Lee H. Whittlesley

Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies by Ella E. Clark

A Postcard History of Glacier National Park by Tom Mulvaney

Photographing Montana 1894-1928 The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron by Donna M. Lucey

Join me virtually in my travels! (friend me on facebook where I just posted the entire experience) Or, join me at a fall show and I am sure I will be happy to tell you all about it!

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