Wondering about the ‘Big Sky’ label

INTERSTATE 90, Mont. — I couldn’t stop thinking about the “Big Sky Country” label that someone long ago hung on Montana.

The sky is ample, I suppose. But as we drove from Missoula through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Wash., I was struck by the sight of all those tall mountains throughout out trek — especially those that towered next to the highway in Montana.

The mountains soared seemingly forever into the sky, rising maybe 9,000 or 10,000 feet above sea level.

The thought occurred to me: Those magnificent mountains impede the volume of sky one would see if we were traveling along more, um, flat terrain.

Thus, the “big sky” isn’t quite so, um, big … you know?

I’ve long noted that the Texas Panhandle, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before our move this spring to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, is the real big sky country. The sun is in the sky forever. It sets well past 9 p.m. during the peak of the summer.

It’s huge, man!

The Montana sky — when it isn’t covered in smoke, as it as today — is pretty enough. It just isn’t nearly as big as the High Plains sky I grew accustomed to seeing daily for more than two decades.

OK, maybe the Montana sky finds its bigness farther east, where it lacks mountains to jut skyward into the big sky.

But I find it hard to imagine how its size could compare with the sky with that envelops the vast landscape I used to call “home.”

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