‘Breaking Clean’ by Judy Blunt

A friend loaned me the book, Breaking Clean, by Judy Blunt. He thought I’d enjoy it as it’s set in north-eastern Montana where my family has lived for generations. I’m only a few chapters in, but the book resonates with me. There are stories about the hard life of generations, the wind that never stops, the winter cold that breaks a person, and the song of wheat.

One chapter is about the blizzard of 1964 that decimated the area around Malta. My family is more north and east than Malta and I’ve never been there during a blizzard. But I’ve heard the stories. Now, in reading this, the author’s words won’t leave me so I’m sharing a paragraph. This piece takes place after the blizzard, after the deaths of cattle and pheasant and antelope and people. The artifacts are pieces of those who died, lost to freezing.

‘Over time the artifacts went back to earth and the wildlife returned, nurtured and guarded by landowners who came to see the prairie as empty without them. Only stories survive, and a restlessness when wind rises on winter evenings. Every generation relearns the rules its fathers have forgotten. One rule is awareness, the need to see past the power of human hands on the land, to the power beneath it. Those who forget have the wind to jog their memory, wind slipping evenly through the sage, dusting across the fields. Watch your back, it’s whispering. This land owes you nothing.’

So many powerful images in that one paragraph. The power beneath the land, the stories that survive, the connection between people and the land, the wind. What amazing writing.

I can’t wait to read more.

Storm coming.

Storm coming.