You never know what you have until it’s gone. It’s cliché, but there’s a reason for that.
It’s the pure and simple truth.
Up until a year ago, I had lived all nineteen of my glorious years in the Puget Sound basin. I moved around a lot – who doesn’t? – but I was always somewhere close to the water, whether that was Lake Washington, Green Lake, or the Sound itself. From my house now, I can ride my bike down to Richmond beach and enjoy a day of low tides and sea breezes.
However, from August 26, 2011 to May 14, 2012 I was land-locked. To pursue my
undergraduate dream of becoming a geoscientist, I packed up my things and moved to Missoula, MT for my first year of college. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Montana.
People aren’t lying when they say it’s “Big Sky Country.” But some things are missing.
The biggest one that I noticed, even during my first night, was the lack of moisture in
the air. I went through two bottles of lotion by the time finals came along. Second was
the atmosphere. For the better part of the autumn semester, wildfires could be seen in
the distance, and the resulting smoke tended to choke up the valley. Everywhere there
was a slight haze and staleness to the air that you don’t get on the coast, where the air is constantly flowing and changing.
Thirdly, and most importantly, was the change in color. That was what pained me the
most. Gone were the lush moss greens and pine needle teals and rainy greys, and in their places were bright maple greens and deep sky blues, standing out against the imposing gold of the surrounding hillsides. When winter finally came, everything was either white or brown, very different from the evergreen landscape of western Washington.
This year I’ll be heading back inland, but I’ll be bringing a little bit of home with me.
My roommate may not like it, but my wall is going to be covered with the shades of the Sound.