Portrait of an American Farmer
July 05, 1999 | Bitterroot Valley
This is an old photo taken in 1999 – a portrait of my great-uncle Bob. Where we are standing in this shot is on the land that my family homesteaded many years ago. It sits at the south-end of the Bitterroot Valley up against Forrest Service land the Selway Wilderness area.
Growing up we’d take our summer vacation to Montana each year and stay at the ranch with Bob. Over the years, Bob became one of the many facets of the Montana experience. His independent, nature-loving and sustainable-living lifestyle taught me a lot when I was younger.
Each Fourth of July, the family has a reunion of sorts at the homestead. People come from across the country and even from Canada to participate in this celebration of mostly food and fireworks. During this time, Bob is always the most gracious host and lets the rowdy bunch overrun the ranch.
This year’s Fourth was a bit different than the previous celebrations as Bob had gone missing from the ranch two months prior. No one is sure where he is or what happened. In some respects, not knowing is comforting, in others it is not.