West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery

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Have you ever been to a place where you stepped through the door and knew you’d come upon some place special, knew you’d come back, and knew this place would be a forever deposit in your memory bank? That’s how felt when I walked through the doors of the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery. It’s a store in northwest Montana not far from the Canadian border. It’s not some place you stumble on. It’s so far off the eaten path that you must make it a destination to get there. It’s a place centered in the middle of a small community that comprises of both Englisch and Amish. It’s part store, part bakery, part restaurant, and part giftshop.

Throughout the years this store has had a variety of owners, both Amish and English. When I set my Amish novels in Northwestern Montana, I crafted a ensemble of characters to fill the space—characters not unlike the real people who live there.

In my new novel The Memory Jar, the main character is Sarah Shelter. Sarah’s family has lived in the West Kootenai for years, and she’s grown up in the area. Her best friend, Patty—also Amish—leads her on many adventures through the mountain forests, and on their adventures they collect special items in their memory jars.

In my novel, Sarah is a baker at the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery. The kitchen is open to the restaurant area, and she can often be seen in there baking her special creations.

Just a few weeks ago I visited the restaurant, and I found myself looking to the kitchen for Sarah’s face. Since she’s someone I crafted in my imagination, she wasn’t there, of course. But she’s real enough in my mind to cause me to look!
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Another character in the book is one of the Amish bachelors, Jathan. If you’ve visited West Kootenai any time, you’ve no doubt heard about the bachelors. Every year, 30-40 Amish bachelors come from all over the United States to live in Montana for a time and gain their resident hunting license in order to hunt in the fall. It’s quite an adventure traveling from rural farms and factories in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and moving into the wild where the deer, bear, and moose still roam, and it’s a good possibility you could run into one riding your bicycle to work. (Work that might include felling trees, crafting log furniture or building mountain homes.)

For all bachelors, adventure in some sort or another is waiting in the area. For some, true love can also be found. More than one Amish bachelor has written home not only telling about his latest hike or hunt, but also telling about a pretty local girl who caught his eyes.

I thought about all these things as I ate lunch and pie at the Kraft and Grocery. I also thanked God that He brought me to this community and allowed me to be a tour guide of sorts to those who are unfamiliar with the Amish lifestyle in the area.

Isn’t that what authors are, tour guides? We invited readers into a special world and let them live there for a while, interacting with the characters through the pages of the book.

If you aren’t planning a trip to Montana anytime soon, Sarah Shelter welcomes you in the pages of The Memory Jar. If you do have Montana—the real Montana—on your agenda, check out the West Kootenai. Yes, it’s off the beaten path, but I guarantee it’s worth the trip. And when you’e there make sure you pull up a chair, stay a while, and enjoy a nice slice of Dutch Apple Pie.
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Tricia Goyer (67 Posts)

Tricia is the author of more than 30 books and has published more than 500 articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won the Historical Novel of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005. Tricia's co-written novel, The Swiss Courier, was a nominee for the Christy Awards.


Comments

  1. I love owning an reading the book an hope another will follow up soon.

    • Yes, book #2 The Promise Box will be out on May 20. You can pre-order now! Also, the same characters are in Beside Still Waters, Along Wooded Paths, and Beyond Hope’s Valley!

  2. It’s so cool to see the behind-the-scenes and the inspiration for novels!

  3. Beverly Lytle says:

    I too would be looking for Sarah….I could really connect with her in the book and I’m just sure we could be great friends! (If only she were real)

  4. Sounds like a fun summer road trip, since it’s in my backyard!

    • Christy, you TOTALLY have to go. It’s so cool up there! If you can go while it’s still the school year and you can see the barefooted Amish kids playing at the playground at the little log Amish school.

  5. This post is so fun! I love West Kootenai based on the ‘tours’ I’ve already taken through your books. Seeing the hub of the community activity helps cement the town in my mind. Can’t wait for your next book.

  6. Just finished the Promise Bo’s…review coming very shortly, and was thrilled to read about the area. I have visited the Canadian side a few times, and my ‘brother’ and family have a cabin on the Kikimon River..and I learned to swim in the Kukanusa!

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