Friday, August 1, 2008

Marvelous Montana

I'm sitting in the dark (Veeka is asleep) in a Missoula hotel setting the alarm for an early morning flight out of here tomorrow. I had not been to Montana in 30 years, since my college graduation. I've spent the last 5 days at a family reunion, relaxing and eating too much food at the Double Arrow resort at Lake Seeley, one of several lustrous lakes just south of Glacier National Park. For all those family members who sat this gathering out: You should have been there.
There were about 30 of us from Minnesota, Washington state and Virginia gathered there thanks to gargantuan efforts made by my Minneapolis cousins who realized, along with us all, that we could not wait for weddings and funerals to bring us together. Ever since Uncle Ed's funeral 17 months ago, the thought was that maybe the rest of us could intentionally spend more time together before more pass into eternity.
So we met at this lovely ranch underneath bright blue skies, about 2,000+ feet up, meaning there were no mosquitos! Some of us did whitewater rafting on Wednesday on the Clark Fork west of Missoula and others golfed, rode horses or simply ate. Or gazed at the stars at night. I was glad, with all the infusion of babies from the Hinnenthal side of things, to have at least one little one represented from the Duin side of the picture. For those who are not familiar with my father's side of the family, everything springs from Siegfried, the 11th son of a peasant family in northwest Germany, who immigrated here in 1903 and married Alma Englebert. They settled in New Ulm, Minn., and had four children. My Aunt Alice, 92, on the far left of the photo, was #2. My father, 83, who is standing, was #4. The aforementioned Uncle Ed was #3. The fourth, Jerry, who was the eldest, died at the turn of this century. From those four came tons of kids and grandkids. The photo shows the Duin side of the clan, which includes myself, my mother and Miss Veeka. Suggestion for our next gathering: Post a family tree chart.
With all sorts of people to cuddle up to and talk with, Veeka's vocabulary has made great leaps since I flew out this way July 16. Now it's back to sweltering Washington where I close on two homes this week, pack, move and collapse.

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