breathing in that big sky

garden of buddhas

On Sunday afternoon, as we were packing our bags for our trip to Montana, I was trying to bake something good before the light left the sky. “I want to have something up for the site on Wednesday, even though we’re going to be gone.” I’ve fallen in love with granola again, so I made a batch with dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, and chocolate chips for our trip. Problem is, I tried a new technique — toasting the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and spices for 15 minutes before adding the honey and olive oil. Here’s a hint: don’t do that. How many batches of granola have I made successfully now? Dozens and dozens. Why did I have to try something new when I needed photographs? And why did I let the batch burn? Lucy and I were finishing our new favorite chapter book, Adventures with Waffles, and we were laughing so hard that I forgot the granola.

Well, there went that photo.

So I quickly threw together something else. A new thing I’ve been playing with lately: bars made with puffed brown rice cereal, tahini, honey, and chocolate chips. Think chocolate-tahini rice krispies. They would also be good for our trip. But I overestimated the volume of rice cereal I’d need. By something like 3 times. And then they fell apart when I cut them. No point in photographing that either.

(I’m going to get them both right when we go home.)

For a few moments, I fretted. How could I have botched two recipes in one day? What am I going to write about in this post without a recipe to share? And now we have no snacks?

Turns out, we didn’t need to bring snacks at all. We’re in Montana, brought here on a sponsored trip by the Western Montana and Glacier National Park tourism board. They wanted us to experience the beauties of this part of the world in the winter so we could show it to you. The last three days of eating have been bright and wonderful, entirely gluten-free, and so so so good. There was no chance of going hungry.

Today, we four stood in silence at the Ewam Garden of 1000 Buddhas, in Arlee, Montana. It stands in the middle of rural Montana, in a valley at the bottom of a bowl of rugged mountains on all sides. The land sits on the Flathead Indian reservation, home to the Salish and Kootenai Tribes. A Tibetan Buddhist sangha created this enormous wheel of a garden, with a thousand white buddha statues on each spoke. As a Buddhist, this place amazed me. Grounded me. It was a place of peace and power. The skies cleared just as we arrived. Even the kids grew quiet and respectful. It was clearly sacred ground.

An hour later, after a long drive through the rolling grassy hills of the National Bison range, we were driving slowly by 4 enormous bison, 5 feet from our car. They snuffled and looked up at us, then went back to eating.

Yeah. I really don’t care now that I burned that granola.

If you’d like to follow along on our adventures this week, I’m posting a lot of images on Instagram.

Soon, I’ll have a post for you, with plenty of recommendations of great places to eat gluten-free in Missoula, Polson, Whitefish, and Kalispell. We’re already in love with this area.

Next week, I promise to not burn the granola.


p.s. If you’re hungry, I wrote a piece about how we make some of our mornings easier with Van’s waffles, as a sponsored post with SheKnows.