Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Claire Muller
Seeley Lake Community Foundation Executive Director 

An ode to Seeley Lake


January 19, 2023

Claire Muller, executive director for the Seeley Lake Community Foundation, volunteered in 2022 for the Red Ants Pants Foundation for their Girls Leadership Program, where mentors and mentees received a training on Rural Identity from Megan Torgerson, the founder of the Reframing Rural podcast.

Muller said they listened to her narrated essay, “Patchwork Quilt” and explored how to talk about and celebrate the rural Montana places they lived in.

“We did a quick exercise of writing a poem about our homes and I loved it,” Muller said. “Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prompt, and sat down and wrote this little ode to Seeley Lake.”

Muller said that she believed it was important “to share beautiful and heartfelt things, and concentrate on the positive and what we have in common, because it can be easy to focus on the things that tear us apart.

“We live in such a special place,” she said. “I love it here”

A Poem of Rural Gratitude

Praise be to my short driveway. We get SNOW here, and shoveling it back

takes long enough as it is.

Praise be to the liquid chain that links the giant puddles of this valley. I find it fitting that our namesake is hidden from the hopeful gaze of highway rubberneckers. Seeley Lake is an enigma, in so many ways.

Praise be to the post office. Being peeved at the potholes in the parking lot links us all together. Running in to neighbors allows for impromptu chats – a community building act. And, I adore getting snail mail.

Praise be to the larch fields, a patchwork of golden surprises every fall, unfolding over the hills. They are a highlight of my year: delayed gratification after the wildflowers have died and the crowds have dispersed.

Praise be to the people. To the pain-filled, struggling people. To all of us trapped together in paradise, so many – both rich and poor – lost to inner turmoil and sucked into the drama, all the live long day.

Praise be to the grocery store and the hardware store. I love how many services this unincorporated town has. Praise be to the hardworking people who staff these businesses, fulfilling our wants and needs. My whims of buying a quart of milk or an extension cord are so easy to take or granted.

Praise be to the public land that surrounds us, that nestles us into its forests, that hems in the sprawl, that sets us apart from the huge valleys sprouting stick homes forevermore.

Praise be to the Carhartt jackets stamped with the red and black Pyramid logo, showcasing local pride at high school football games, surrounded by dark forest and bright Friday night lights.

Praise be to the mountains, to the bear-trap ridges, to the toothed peaks guarding their bait within. The Bob is just a hair’s breadth afar but oh so out of reach, unless I climb up and over the jagged trap-teeth.

Praise be to the volunteers, the doers, the workhorses, to those who care. To the people who chose to love and give of themselves, nourishing their souls and those around them. This is a community of givers, you know. This is a valley that cares.

Praise be to the dogmushers, the sled heads, the ski junkies. To the quilters and the pilots, the ice fishers and the artists. To the pockets of passion that dot this valley and give it character.

Praise be to that northern turn- just at the Cow- that signifies home. I feel at peace as I fly across the prairie heading north, heading back up into my mountains and up my chain of lakes.

Praise be, praise be, to good old Seeley Lake.


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