For the last two summers, I have visited The Nature Conservancy's Pine Butte Guest Ranch on the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. The Ranch, in operation since 1929 (1979 by the Conservancy), is nestled in the mountains with a beautiful stream running through it and provides its guests with naturalist-led walks and horseback rides. The sounds of water and wind, the sights of mountains, trees and prairie, the smell of home-baked bread and crisp air--all these have had a restorative affect on me. I return to my urban life, 1,000 miles from the Ranch, and the Ranch remains with me--easing my worries and cares and allowing me to let go of the things I have little or no control over. I guess you'd call that "nirvana". I have a sense of the bigger picture--that there is a big world out there and that I, as an individual, am merely a steward of nature and, more frequently, an observer of her splendor. I will do my best in my lifetime to keep my footprint small, to be philanthropic to the causes that matter to me--and hopefully, places like the Rocky Mountain Front and all the plants and animals within it--will be there long into the future to refresh me and so many others on life's journey.
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