New year, new beginnings. Hopefully, a more productive year when it comes to writing. This past year saw the bane of every writer, rejection by the establishment publishing industry. Self-publishing is pushed as an option but ends up being a risky financial proposition. Have found a potentially free podcast site and if I can get the acoustics right will begin to read my own work for the enjoyment of young listeners and families. This will be my last year involved in education in order to focus on writing/recording and other projects. My heart has always been with reading, imagination, and stories that transport readers to faraway places and times. The aim is to pull kids and parents away from other media even if only for a short time and help them glimpse new places and characters. As the podcast comes to fruition I'll create a link from this site. Please consider joining me on the journey.
February in Northwest Montana can be rather chilly. Like most of the center of the country, we got our share of the cool down. My personal scale is; 15-0 is frisky, 0-(-10) is chilly, -10-(-20) is a little on the cold side. For new arrivals to the Flathead Valley, this can be a rather rude awakening. Having grown up in this kind of climate in the Midwest (Wisconsin) it's no big deal. "No such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing." After all, you can only take off so much in a hot climate before you get arrested. Will try to get in some winter series rodeo in the arena up the road before the season is over. I love living in a state where it's not uncommon to see school kids wearing boots. Unfortunately, with all the Covid mess this year we've seen a large influx of newcomers into the Flathead. Those who can work remotely are fleeing the urban areas for the relative safety of Montana. Realtors and builders are seeing an enormous boom. Beginning to feel a bit crowded here. They're taking too much to heart our "last best place" moniker.
Almost gone, and yet snow flurries hang on in Northwest Montana. A few days of tease in the low 50s and then back to reality. The peaks in the Whitefish, Flathead, Swan, and Mission ranges still sport their white caps (not to be gone before June). Grizzlies will be making an appearance soon, and some have undoubtedly done so. They'll be out looking to make up calorie deficits any way they can. Plowing has begun on the Going to the Sun Road from the East. Crews from the East and West side will meet in the middle at Logan Pass sometime toward the end of June. Pent-up demand to see Montana's national parks may seriously boost attendance this year. Sunrise and sunset in the mountains are something to behold. There's a reason they call us "The Last Best Place."
National parks by appointment? Who would have thought it? Strange times in the inland Northwest. Glacier Park planning for reservations to certain areas to reduce congestion and increase "social distancing." Population growth in Northwest Montana continues unabated. Winter struggling to let go in the Flathead Valley. Still, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather live. Schools have begun the last quarter of the school year and spring fever if not fully blossomed will soon be evident. Have begun reading Grandmother's Fan to a reading intervention. Acoustic panels should be here by the end of May so hopefully I can begin setting up the first podcast episode.
October 20, 2021
A Montana October - Larches and Aspens golden on the slopes, a counterpoint to the fir and pine.Light frost in the mornings and the eerie call of Sandhills stopping on their way to winter playgrounds. Scattered snow making its appearance on the high peaks and frosty glimpses of the heights of Glacier, visible from some thirty-odd miles away. Occasional fires devour acres of timber in drought-stricken Northwest Montana. Some lingering smolders may not be fully extinguished until the first significant snows smother the embers. In the long run the positives still vastly outweigh the negatives in this place of extraordinary beauty. As I hear of natural disasters in other parts, Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. I tend to look at my wife and say " And that's why we live in Montana!"
December 8, 2021
Another Season of life is almost in the books. A milestone will be reached, confirmed by aches and pains. In spite of the enormous age difference between myself and the audience I write for, I still have imagination and a desire to write/record for them. If I can do well enough at that and stimulate my young audience to engage for a few minutes, and maybe to interest them in trying their hand at writing it'll have been worth the effort. On another note, we mustn't forget the true reason for Christmas which has no relation to so much secular "celebration". Wishing you true peace of heart and understanding of the real Christmas.
April 6, 2022
Ok, so I've been remiss. I've let things get in the way of "musing". April in Northwest Montana isn't like April in more southerly regions. Sprinkles one minute, snow flurries the next. Snowfall in the mountains far exceeded that on the valley floor. Good for the streamflow as it melts but not as helpful for agriculture or lawns. I'm hoping for some decent rainfall before the end of June when the possibility of fire season ramps up and not much moisture until fall. That said, however, I'm looking forward to a cool spring mountain spring before temperatures climb. I've also promised myself to make more progress with writing and recording. I have too many projects started and stalled waiting for attention. I've very much enjoyed recording my writing and also reading those and others to my grandson in South Carolina. (We're reading a story by Farley Mowat) Too many irons in the fire I guess.
August 21, 2022
Summer is fleeting. The Flathead County, Montana fair (now complete) is that harbinger of schools restarting and anticipation of eventual fall rains after a mostly parched July and August. We commiserate with other western states on the wildfire front. As of today, the Montana Wildfire Info. the website informs us of fifty active fires, with eighteen of those starting in the last twenty-four hours. Some are dry lightning starts when boomers and a light show hint at relief but only tease with disastrous results. Most of my siblings have migrated to warmer climates. I and one other are the holdouts. I love cold and snow and long for a reprieve from near one-hundred-degree temps. I've had enough of the deserts in the Middle East and Southwest Asia to last the rest of my time on earth. As the meme goes, you can always put more clothes on, but you can only remove so many before being arrested, and you're still hot.
September 25, 2022
We're here again. The seasons turn, each place with its own evidence. For some, it's the unmistakable smell of apples and the earthy smell of fallen leaves. For others, it's storms, hurricanes, and flotsam washed up on white sand beaches. Each place has its fans who would live nowhere else despite its drawbacks. But even in its flawed state, there is so much beauty it can fill us with joy and excitement if we take the time to let it sink in and consider the creative power it took to give us color, design, and function. No "random, happy accident here!"
October 24, 2022
Indian summer has fled. What was rain on the valley floor has become white on the peaks and has begun to dress the lower slopes with dusting like powdered sugar. Temperatures have become normal for fall and the colors have come and begun to wane. Seasons turn like a clock hour by hour, day by day. In this increasingly frantic world how many take a few moments to seek quietude and space for reflection and gratitude for the beauty, design, and color that surrounds us? It can settle the soul and hopefully change our perspective of ourselves and cause us to give glory to the creator of it all.
February 07, 2023
Winter reflections: Winter moons hazy through gauzy clouds or in stark contrast on bitter cold nights surrounded by a cohort of brilliant stars. Days of heavy cloud over the Flathead Valley earning the catchphrase "another grey day in the Flathead." Alpenglow burning the white peaks rose pink or burnt orange at the edge of night. Normally harsh sounds softened by newly fallen snow. Visual treasures to be stored and relived in quiet moments without the need for voices.
October 05, 2023
Contrasts of a Montana Road Trip: Peaks of the Continental Divide shrouded in mist interspersed with glimpses of white on towering pinnacles forcing me to crane my neck to see. The road, twisting, rising, and falling in elevation works its way to the top of Marias Pass and gradually descends to the front range and the beginning of the Northern Plains stretching Eastward to the Dakotas, passing through the venerable Blackfoot Nation. Miles of grain and oil trains cargoes destined for Seattle and elsewhere. Unequaled in my humble opinion.