A tad more each day

a fleeting moment
the mountain wears pink snow lace
skittish winter light


Sunset on the Missions looking northeast.  It is good to see blue sky on this last day in January.  Has anyone noticed the subtle lengthening of the daylight hours?  I’m sure you all have.  Our late afternoon walks are done mostly in daylight now, though I would term them dusky walks dusted with snow.  We are now living in 10h 39m of visible light here in western Montana. The actual length of Day is 9h 34m.  Tomorrow will be 2m 50s longer.  When you add that altogether it eventually comes out to be… Spring!

First tracks on Rainbow


This is what first tracks on groomed corduroy looks like early in the morning.  What a treat for us suffering from cabin fever in January.  Here is an easy first run of the day called Rainbow Ridge.  My view here looks towards the Montana side of the ski area.  I was able to ski in the new powder off to the edge yesterday which is a singular experience because it is so silent and soft.  Just stay away from the trees.

ski-polesCold and snowy is the only way to ski.  Not the epic amount of snow we had last year but this will do.  February often brings a great deal of moisture to the mountains so here’s to a snowy February! ( Now don’t any of you get cranky with me and start chucking snow balls.)


It takes a special kind of love to follow a woman to the top of a mountain and then manage to ski all the way back down.   My husband didn’t ski that much before we were married but he learned and now he’s a very capable skier.  I had a hard time keeping up with him yesterday!  So, thanks honey for following me into lofty altitudes.


Disclaimer: We don’t ski double black diamonds!  This is the symbol they use for  an intermediate run, but not all blue sqaures are created equal.

Descending the Missouri


This is a painting called :  Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845  George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811–1879)  If you click on the painting it enlarges quite a bit.

The figure of the cat catches the eye.  And, the relaxed position of the passenger is captivating.  I know a portion of the river and it feels just like this.  Who knows perhaps it was painted at Pelican Point?   I do love this painting, but  gone are those day of the frontier and the explorers who paddled the Missouri unhindered.  The Missouri River now has fourteen  dams built upon it.  The first dam is located at Toston, Montana and the last is at  Gavins Point in South Dakota plus hundreds of towns and cities along its banks.  Still, there are yet many miles of uninhabited river mostly in Montana and North Dakota.

We are planning a trip in July to see the wild and scenic portion of the river and perhaps paddle into eastern Montana.   It will take close to a week – camping as we go.  Here is the Easy Rider Raven; the red canoe we acquired recently which will be the primary vessel.  It holds a lot of gear. We have two seats to replace and some buffing to do but right now it is cold so she is spending the rest of the winter in our garage.  The Raven looks a little misplaced, a bit high and dry here on our snowy front yard.  The biggest project is going to be trying to convince one of our cats to assume her rightful place at the bow and in July our own version of this painting will be complete!  Yes, right.


The courtyard of a wild place

I stand in the courtyard of a wild place.  If I ever venture here again I can be assured it will never appear or be the same.  The elements, the seasons have a strong work ethic when change is involved.  So, in a way this might be a one in a chance encounter with this spot at this particular moment.  And, if I return I will have been  in flux as well, as humans do not stand still in time anymore than trees or landscapes.  We grow and reshape and redefine,  become older – endlessly.

The classic attitude regarding humans and nature has been the age old notion that we are separate;  we are humans living on top of, thrust upon or into the natural world attempting to survive or control her.  When we actually arrive at a place inside ourselves where we feel connected to the natural way of things then that old perspective might shift.  No doubt I have experienced places where I was not welcome as an intruder, but this very rarely. There is a possibility of deeper understanding if we are open to it.  It has taken me this long, more than 40 years of being out in such environments, to barely  grasp this concept.  I am not always paying attention, but there are a few lessons I learned  early in my childhood.

My first memories trickle by:  of splashing in the icy cold water of Bowman Lake in Glacier Park,  wearing only little girl undies while my mother anxiously watches me.  On the shore she shivers at the frigid water on my behalf, but I am looking up from the turquoise lake,  watching the sky.  I  see fir and pine trees march high up into the mountains until they stop at the predetermined line where no trees grow.  What an amazing view from the open water; to be a part of the lake itself.  Or, more clearly I remember walking down a lonely logging road behind my Mom with a long, wooden fishing pole which is twice my size. Suddenly a black bear steps out in front of us.  My Mom stands firmly and calmly between while I clutch at her jacket.  The  intuitive lady that she is,  my Mom simply stops in mid step and talks softly, yet firmly to the bear.  She waits for the communications to resonate with this bruin.  Finally after a short while, the bear quietly ambles on down the embankment into the thick brush below us.  No big deal, but what an amazing creature is the bear.

And now I stand in this high forest glade on skis and think, what an amazing place being so far from everything.  I am grateful to be here.  I am thankful it exists in a wild state among the flow of human time;  this deep forest in the deep of winter.

As the years skip along may there always be such places on the planet

which are difficult to reach

even if I can no longer go there myself.
Photo by Alasdair.

If only ~ OSI


wheat fields are empty
hold tightly a frozen breath
all is still

crystal mirrors hang
cautious beacons of ourselves
vanish tomorrow

solitary man
stands alone on the highway
I do not know you

Photo of a winter view of the Cedarburg Barn near Colfax, WA by our friend Bill Carroll taken only a few days ago.  See other amazing poetry this week at One Single Impression.

Good times, hard times


The one financial / economic stimulus we have all been feeling lately is the relief of lower gas prices.  Although I don’t expect this to endure too much longer it was a welcome extra bonus to our paycheck —  a bill we didn’t have to pay the last two months.  Of course, we just drove less the last weeks  because of the weather but our entire gas bill for December was less than $50.  (Mind you neither of us has to drive to work.)  This was the price of regular fuel about 10 days ago; it has now risen another 10 cents since I took this picture at a pump on the west side of Missoula.

Today I was reading the details of President Obama’s recovery package which aims to: – double within three years the amount of energy that could be produced from renewable resources. Advisers say that could power 6 million households.

_upgrade 10,000 schools and improve learning for about 5 million students.

_save $2 billion a year by making federal buildings energy efficient.

_triple the number of undergraduate and graduate fellowships in science.

_tighten security at 90 major ports.

“The plan would spend at least 75 percent of the total cost _ or more than $600 billion _ within the first 18 months, either through bricks-and-shovels projects favored by Democrats or tax cuts that Republicans have pushed.

There is heavy emphasis on public works projects, which have lagged as state budgets contracted. Governors have lobbied Obama to help them patch holes in their budgets, drained by sinking tax revenues and increased need for public assistance such as Medicaid and children’s health insurance. Obama’s plan would increase the federal portion of those programs so no state would have to cut any of the 20 million children whose eligibility is now at risk.

Obama’s plan would also provide (temporary) health care coverage for 8.5 million people who lose their insurance when they either lose or shift jobs.

“It’s a plan that will save or create 3 to 4 million jobs over the next few years” and recognizes “there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done,” he said.

The difference now, being for me, is that I know hope.

Ice Facts

Ice is nice ~ sometimes.  Brought to you by the National Weather Service Ice Awareness Month.  Huh?


Montana has the highest number of reported ice jams in the lower 48 states.
Montana has the highest number of ice jam related deaths in the lower 48 states.
Two-thirds of Montana’s ice jams occur in February and March.

Blue sky envy

This is the blue sky of Helena, our State Capitol,  just a tad over the mountains from us.   I documented this cloudless wonder last weekend.  Blue sky which we  do not have, but it is certainly up there .  We are still wallowing around in fog here at home and it is now day eight… or maybe day 90, I don’t remember.  I won’t go into any details how extended periods of low cloud cover can whittle away at one’s ability to function in full sun. The locals were quite smug about their grotesquely inappropriate allotment of sun rays this winter.  Quite smug indeed.  Something about:  “That’s what you fruitcakes in western Montana get.”

This is  a building on the campus of Carroll College; they say it is haunted.  Well, it does not look haunted right now, but in this sun who could tell?  Whoooo~~~~


Sunlight also causes interesting patterns to simply pop out at one.  I know, this is a weird picture due to photon overload.


And here the sky is still blue whether or not you mix upper case with lower case.  This is rather a confused version of what makes a good sign.  Nature is very forgiving sometimes.