Montana-based nature and environmental writer
Winner of the River Teeth 2022 Literary Nonfiction Book Prize
2019 Finalist for Montana Prize in Nonfiction
2020 Nominee for Pushcart Prize
Hydroxychloroquine Is Already a Life-Saving Medication
This morning, I woke up short of breath, my body fatigued with a hot ache. In the time of coronavirus, these symptoms raise alarm, but as a Montanan living with chronic illness, waking up feeling sick is a reality I face most days.
The Missoulian, The Daily Inter Lake, Bozeman Gazette, and others.
Fear as Place,
Home as Refuge
Yesterday, on the eve of Montana’s transition to a Gianforte administration and a state legislature whose majority has recklessly opposed any coronavirus safety measures, my partner and I drove down the Bitterroot to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Stevensville.
Originally in The Montana Post (site now retired)
When the Outdoors Are the Exception
The group of women approaching me on the path is clearly at ease, walking shoulder to shoulder on the double-track, snow-stacked mountains glowing to the north. I came here with my dog seeking similar release, except that I’ve only found sparks to a constant, smoldering fury.
The Daily Montanan
HOW TO USE A CROSSCUT SAW
Only pull the handle across your chest. You can pull however you want—with your arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, or all or some at once. You can pull to your right or pull to your left, as long as the blade runs in line to me. If you warp the saw through the wood I will know. If you yank my knuckles into bark I will let go of the handle and let your body fold back with the momentum you thought I would bear. If you push the saw, I will stop. I will always pull away.
The river slides southwest without urgency, a slow pane of water held by mud-hemmed banks. I climb over a rail guard and stand on the crumbled lip of a concrete wall as ducks waddle on a spit below. An old arch bridge spans the river to my right, and upriver maples and oaks are blotting colors of fall onto the water’s reflection. The Monongahela. This eastern river is unfamiliar in its wide, muddy drift. I think of the Flathead, the Missouri, the Blackfoot—rivers that move like muscles, rippling and eddying even in the low pull of late summer.
Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing
I can speak more Finnish to the dogs then I can to people. Istua, odota, I command, setting their bowls of kibble on the ground. Paws tremble and warm eyes watch me with a degree of devotion I can’t shake off. I’ve done nothing but stir kibble and expired chicken into their tongue-polished tins. Nothing to gain their trust, and yet their eyes cling to mine without fear. Odota, I repeat, the vowels drawn out, hung in anticipation. Wait.
WHAT STONES HOLD
The volcano has erupted before. Floods clawed and scraped and gouged into a network of veins through the earth, but the land was quick to smooth the scars over. These old tracks are easy to forget, tucked out of sight by glacial tongues, windblown mounds of grass, the slow recovery of birchwood. But their channels run deep. Eyjafjallajökull, like a great bare foot, traces the ridges and hollows of gravity’s narrative. It knows where disorder will overturn.
For five seasons, Sarah Capdeville proudly wore the title of wilderness ranger in the Rattlesnake, Welcome Creek, and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness areas of Western and Central Montana. She is currently part of the editorial teams of The Hopper and The Changing Time. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, and graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in Resource Conservation and a BA in Spanish. Her writing has been published in Orion, Fourth Genre, The Normal School, Flyway, and others. She has been a Pushcart nominee as well as a finalist for the Montana Prize in Nonfiction. She is the winner of River Teeth's 2022 Literary Nonfiction Book Prize, and her essay collection Aligning the Glacier's Ghost is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press in spring 2024. Sarah lives in Missoula, Montana, with her partner, retired greyhound, and opinionated tortoiseshell cat, where she navigates chronic illness, goes on many slow hikes, and daydreams about the crosscut saw.