When I originally took the photos that appear in the header image of this blog, I specifically snapped multiple photos, panoramic-style, to capture the entire scene. But this is the first time I’ve ever sat down and spliced them together. I took these photos at a plot of land in Ronan, Montana which was homesteaded by my extended family in 1910. The Rinke family traveled by train and horseback from Missouri to Montana, put a stake in the ground, and laid stake to land that they would work for the next hundred+ years. I took these photos at the 100 year family reunion in 2010. It was my first trip to the Rinke family homestead in Montana. It was an uplifting and humbling experience, the kind that makes you wake up a little bit. Seeing my extended family still working that alfalfa farm after 100 years, seeing how hard they worked, being welcomed as one of them, despite all of our differences – it was so inspiring. They are farmers and hunters from Montana. I am a vegetarian software developer living the urban life. But somehow we all share the same simple truth. Ultimately we come from the same family, from the same distant place. Despite generations of separation, we share the same appreciation for the simple life, for coming up poor and putting in hard work to survive. We share an appreciation for the beauty of rural Montana, with Glacier National Park looming in the background. This trip coincidentally came in August of 2010, right around my 30th birthday. The timing was perfect. 30 seems to be a milestone in most people’s lives where some reflection is in order. Seeing the Rinke ranch after a hundred years, traveling into Glacier National Park to see thousands of years of nature’s creation, meeting distant family for the first time – “Damn that man’s face is just like my face” (Jay-Z, “Moment Of Clarity”, The Black Album) – it all provided more than just a moment of clarity. Hundreds and thousands of years of development should be complicated… But strip away all the analysis, and the feeling was ultimately simple – being there felt right, it felt inspiring.
The photo below is a duplicate of an original taken in 1911, the first year on the Rinke homestead in Round Butte, Montana. The little baby sitting on the woman’s lap is my great-grand-aunt, Lucille, who I met when I was a teenager. She lived well into her eighties. My great grandmother, Elvie, is also pictured in this photo, though she passed away before I was born.