A blossom at the end of April

Nanking Cherry At last something is blooming! This is my Nanking Cherry which burst into bloom yesterday after two days of warm sunshine. Our son caught it in the act last evening with the camera. I have three of these bushes and two of them have blossoms, the other hasn’t quite started. Out of the corner of the eye we catch Spring in progress. Oh Spring, make it so. I am like a child each April as I walk around the garden; an innocent sleuth peering at the tiny buds, or thinking I spy a hint of lettuce and spinach coming up from last year’s seed. I see them, yes. Red lettuce and green with a slight start of spinach. The sweet tulips are not far behind now, oh and the pansies are going to go nuts. These new beginnings are a wonderful conclusion to April in western Montana. When Spring is slow to arrive we seem to savor each day more.  ~~ “Flowers leave their fragrance on the hand that bestows them.” Chinese Proverb

More Canoe

We have postponed bringing the aforementioned canoe home because we discovered the dealer has the Royalex version in their warehouse. The store took two days to locate this particular canoe, even though it happened to be in the same town; but it must have been in a different dimension. *grin* The boat is more money (of course), but this material (Royalex) would be easier to work with in attaching the planned sail and outrigger to the hull. So, more on this new endeavor as it unfolds.

One of the motivating factors in purchasing this canoe has been not only our yearning to learn how to sail it, to be free on the wind and water, but also there is the practical aspect of being able to carry more people with us. Since my Mom’s recovery from her heart procedure, we’ve been wanting to grant her a wish she’s had for a long while — to go down a stretch of the wild and scenic portion of the Missouri River. This summer we could make it happen. Gosh, and my Dad might even enjoy it too! We could take five people in our kayak and this canoe, plus all the gear we would require. We could also choose to stay overnight or not. There is a stretch between Ft. Benton and Loma which we think could be paddled in one day, for instance. Anyone out there who has done this stretch of the river and has some advice or suggestions? I would be most grateful.

Along the canoe theme: Here is a very old article about touring with a canoe from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine August, 1880, via the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association website. To give myself some perspective, this was published 10 years before my own grandmother was born. The article is extensive and covers basic canoes and canoe camping in depth. It mentions everything from the many layers of clothing you should have, what type of cot is best for sleeping on, to what kind of portable stove is the most functional.

“A canoe,” according to a recent official and technical definition “is a boat sharp at both ends, not more than thirty-six inches beam, and which can be effectively propelled by a double-bladed paddle; but a canoe may be propelled either by a double or single bladed paddle, or by one or more sails. No other means of propulsion shall be used.” This is the single modern cruising canoe. She is a unique craft, a boat unlike, and yet having the distinctive qualities of, all the others.

Added by Matthew: It makes you realize how much we have in common with people from over 120 years ago, how they were looking for an authentic experience of being close to nature… and how different life was in the days before the internal combustion engine.

Messing about in boats, traveling hundreds of miles without burning any fossil fuels, telling stories around a beach fire under the stars… it really reminds me of Wharram’s comments about sailing being mankind’s first and last freedom. Long live simple craft and the thin waters they ply…

Canoe Ballet

Follows is a very short video of Becky Mason, expert canoeist, practicing what she does so well: Canoe Ballet. I guess she spent an entire year learning how to do this and similar moves with the canoe paddle. Why a canoe video? Well, for one thing it is Spring. Water, canoes, kayaks and paddling go hand in hand in my mind.

Also, this evening we plan to go down to Missoula and pick up our Nova Craft 17 foot Prospector Canoe (made in London, Ontario) which we have on hold down at a locally-owned shop, which is one of the only dealers in the region. We have been deliberating this decision for months (rather like mental ballet all winter) and finally we have a game plan: We envision turning the Prospector into a sailing canoe with an outrigger. I don’t think we’ll be attempting any sailing and Becky’s version of canoe ballet simultaneously, but isn’t this a beautiful image of her canoe in motion? A true water artist.

Flowering via OSI

There is not much blooming around here right now. I haven’t even seen a dandelion in our yard yet. So, I had to go with wild inspiration this week. This photo was taken along Flathead Lake a couple days ago, and I believe this is a Ponderosa Pine cone. It is quite an old cone which was most likely left here by a squirrel. My folks have these Ponderosa trees on their place which are ancient and very tall. The seedlings start out as wisps of green no taller than half my little finger. We have two of these P pines as well but they are relatively young trees being that we transplanted them here about 16 years ago. The twins are now taller than most trees in our neighborhood.


fortune tossed you here

you will fall where the wind wills

tiny seeds waiting.


suspended in time

sublime seeds of a great tree

quiet flowering.


One needs two lifetimes

of sun, rain and open space

to grow a giant.


See other flowering poems at One Single Impression.

Sky Watchers


My theme this week for Sky Watch is Clarity. These shots were taken a couple days ago when we actually saw the sun for a little while and decided to take an evening walk out behind town on the track. There, the view of the Mission Range is basically unobstructed. Matthew and I both shared the camera. This one of the Canadian geese he calls “Soul Mates”. Click on the smaller photos to get a larger view. To see other contributions to this week’s Sky Watch gallery go here to Tom’s blog. Thanks so much Tom!

Posing a picture riddle

What is this and how did (whatever it is) arrive at this state? I realize this is a pretty easy riddle which most of you know already, but isn’t it cool? Hint: We have many of these lying around our house. OK, that really wasn’t a clue at all unless you’ve actually visited our home, but hey at least I didn’t leave you clueless. Click on the photo to enlarge and get a better view. Stay tuned for more diversions on this – our mental health day on QP.

Notes from a future camp

snow on pine This morning, the garden is slowing rising up out of the snow. I wanted to post a picture of my pansies and preemie tulips which were blooming before said snow arrived. Now things look a bit droopy, so I’ll wait until they perk up a bit. It’s amazing to me the rhubarb can continue to leaf out despite the 24 degrees in the morning and ice everywhere. Over in Great Falls they had minus 7 to wake up to. What can I say – it’s Montana! I’m sure the garden will recover and be glad for the sunshine when it does arrive. Me too.

I alluded earlier to taking our Scamp out this last weekend, which of course did not happen due to the impressive snow storm which hit the region. The Scamp was snowbound in the yard. My mind is still on our first camping excursion of the season. I am thinking of camping even more so now that it has been temporarily denied. My father-in-law recently went down to their basement and hauled up a nifty cast iron Dutch oven which will require a bit of steel wool and elbow grease to get back in shape, but to buy one of those new would be costly, and I am considering all the uses it could have over a camp fire. We plan to take the college kids to the ocean ASAP, and that big pot will come in quite handy.

I found a magnificent list of camping tips this morning. Some of these on the list are self evident in the declaration of camping ideals, but others I hadn’t thought about or had forgotten the wisdom of.  Here are a few tips which made me nod my head.

~To fix a cooler leak, apply melted paraffin wax inside and outside the leaky area.

~Pita bread packs better and stays in better shape while camping than regular type breads.

~Consider using a crockpot. Prepare and start your dinner in the morning before your activities. It’ll be ready to eat when you get back. (Ah, enter Dutch Oven stage left!)

~To keep soap clean at your campsite, put it in a sock and hang from a tree.

~For ease of clean up and to protect from smoke and fire damage, put liquid soap on outside of your pots and pans before putting over the fire.

Continuing on with the theme of camping, if you are looking for a nice summer, church camp for your kids I wanted to pass along Camp Marshall on Flathead Lake. Our boys have attended this camp for years. It’s a beautiful location with quality programs, and the price is right. We were just getting Aly signed up for Senior Camp, so I thought I’d pass along their web address: Camp Marshall. They also offer a couple of family camps during the summer which we have also attended. You can kayak, boat, swim, hike on Wild Horse Island and fish in the Lake.

I can't believe it's not butter

Here is some silly humor from a favorite clip of mine off the English, Dawn French TV series: The Vicar of Dibley. We watched this series years ago off of Netflix. The show is now gone by the wayside, and probably rightly so, given the fact that they had a difficult time maintaining what I would call “quality control”; but this is for your Monday dose of LOL, also featuring Emma Chambers as Alice.  This is buttered genius – cunningly disguised.