Boston, Massachusetts. Islamabad, Pakistan. Washington, D.C. Charleston, South Carolina. Toledo, Spain. These are just a few of the 12 cities I’ve called home in my life. So why move to Bigfork, Montana to plant my roots and build a homestead alongside my husband?
The short, easy answer is the superficial one. Bigfork is a beautiful place. With 360-degree views that look like a postcard, from the Swan Range to Flathead Lake to the Missions in the distance, you can’t help but feast your eyes on our beautiful landscape. So when my husband and I grew tired of the concrete, the gridlock, and the crowds of the east coast, it was a simple choice to move back to a place so filled with natural inspiration.
The longer, more complex answer draws on concepts like identity, passion, and how a person defines home.
I grew up a seasonal resident of Bigfork. My parents first came here the summer my mother was pregnant with me, and it’s clear the air and waters of our village were a pivotal piece of how I came into this world. I returned each summer, and my parents eventually purchased a one-room cabin with a view of the lake. Without TV or other entertainments, I grew up reading tall stacks of books borrowed from the Bigfork Public Library, crafting forts and concoctions from the berries and twigs growing on our land, learning how to clean fish, and watching the stars in amazement from our dark front porch as the fruit bats swirled around my head.
As I grew, I felt this community take root in my bones. I explored the rivers and trails of the Swan Valley and Glacier National Park. I learned to drive here. I held my first job at Marina Cay. Each year, it was harder to leave. Once I realized that the guy I was dating was likely to be my husband, I made sure to bring him here, once, and then again, and then again, so he could also come to love this special place.
Growing up, I had big dreams of a fancy career, travel, and things that seemed to require a big city. So my husband and I followed those paths for years, until one day, they were no longer our dreams. New passions took over – dreams of land of our own, the ability to chart our own course, and dive deeply into a life tied to the seasons and powered by our own hands and ingenuity. We decided to take a risk, and followed our hearts home to the west.
Now that we’ve been back in Bigfork for about two years, it seems strange that we were ever anywhere else. Certainly, Bigfork has changed since I was a child. New restaurants have opened while favorite haunts are gone. We seem busier each summer than I ever recall. For better or worse, I can now find most of the same shops in Kalispell as in any other city in the U.S. And with the internet now offering more opportunities for location independent work, in addition to the people who have called Bigfork home for generations, the village is attracting a small but growing population of people like me. People who may have roots here, or may have come from afar on a whim. People who have chosen to stay and work and create a life here because they love Bigfork — both the way that it is, and the way it could yet grow to be.
Bigfork’s journey is certainly not yet over, with generations to come who will leave their unique stamp on this special village. But in my years of knowing and loving Bigfork, I have seen a community that has stayed humble, supported creative voices from all walks of life, and offered inspiration and sanctuary to those who seek it. I may never lose my wanderlust and love of foreign places, exotic flavors, and new horizons, but for these reasons and so many more, Bigfork will always be my home.
By Holly Wielkoszewski
Holly is a writer, web designer, and yoga teacher. She also writes about living intentionally, playing outside and reading good books at Holly from the Big Sky.