This is me at age seven, in Glacier National Park in Montana.
I’m laughing because I have no cares, no fears, only a future full of dreams and possibilities. I’m laughing because the water is freezing, and all I can feel is icy water tickling my numb feet. There’s just something about Montana.
When I was little, Dad would always take me with him wherever he went—Jerry’s Hardware Store, to Blockbuster, even to return books at the library. I would sit in the backseat, swinging my spindly legs against the upholstery, and say,
“Dad! Only ten more years until I can drive!”
“Dad! Only five years until I go to high school!”
“Dad! Only eleven years till I go to college!”
He would give me a knowing smile, saying “I know. Time sure is going quickly.”
But to a seven-year-old whose freedoms consisted of being able to walk the dog around the block, time couldn’t go fast enough. I wanted to drive cars, wear lipstick, go to dances, date boys, change classes.
I turned seventeen seven months ago, and I’m afraid. I’m making some of the biggest decisions of my life. Where I will go to college, what I will become, what I’m going to do with my life. I longed to escape.
This summer, a decade later, my family traveled back to Glacier National Park, Montana.
Whenever I think of the Big Sky state, I remember a quote by Robert Penn Warren from the book “All the King’s Men.”
“For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: “Flee, all is discovered.” It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and see the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. “
Montana, especially Glacier National Park, is one of the few untouched parts of nature left in the United States. These days, everywhere you look you see Starbucks, nail salons, Walmarts, grocery stores and shopping malls. Sirens blare, cars honk, lawnmowers roar and teenagers play music in their trucks late into the night. And so we went West for two weeks, to rediscover the earth. To leave all of my responsibilities, appointments and ACT prep classes at home.
Our first day in Montana it rained, so we drove to the North Fork, a remote corner of the park to a small community named Polebridge.
We had read in the guidebooks about the “Polebridge Mercantile”, a bakery/general store with amazing baked goods.
Of course, being celiac, my mom and I were a little jealous and resentful of my dad and little sister.
We walked into the general store and gazed at the wood and glass bakery counter filled with the most delicious-looking treats I have ever seen. Fruit filled pastries, cookies studded with nuts and chocolate, my heart ached with desire. As Mom and I gazed longingly at the cases, my dad took action. He walked towards the back of the general store and asked one of the bakers if they had any gluten free treats.
And out here, literally in The middle of Nowhere, MT, they did. In fact, they had some of the finest gluten-free baked goods I have ever tasted. The young woman my dad had questioned, Sadie, had Celiac disease as well, and so they made gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, as well as raspberry coffee cake. She and her boyfriend, Wade, had migrated from sunny California to Polebridge, Montana. My mom and I sat at a rustic wood table with plates of steaming coffee cake before us. Our eyes glowed with happiness as we ate the warm, sweet cake dotted with juicy raspberries. We took a dozen peanut butter cookies to go, as well as four more slices of coffee cake.
The cookies were incredible. They were small peanut butter cookies studded with chocolate chips. They tasted less like a traditional cookie and more like a peanut butter-chocolate candy. I vowed to re-create these small masterpieces once I arrived home. One of the best parts of this recipe is that there is no flour in it. No almond flour, no tapioca flour, no flour at all. The cookies I made are slightly different from the Polebridge cookies, but they are delicious nonetheless. Enjoy!
Juliet’s Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup creamy store-bought peanut butter (Jif, Skippy, etc.)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- Extra sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Stir peanut butters together, and then mix in the cup of white sugar until incorporated.
- Mix in the baking powder and the egg, and then add the vanilla extract.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour small amount of sugar onto a plate, and form small balls of cookie dough. Roll the cookies in the sugar until coated, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Using two fingers, gently press down on the cookies. If you like, you can try the old fork-tine pattern, or leave them as is. However, these cookies do better the smaller that they are, so don’t press them down too hard.
Photographs Copyright Juliet Beckstrand 2011