There is a pleasant snow falling this morning in Missoula. Other than the salt truck doing its loops around Southridge Drive, the morning is ghostly calm, the visibility low. I for some reason still call the large orange plows salt trucks (the typical Eastern US method employed when I was a kid), though in Montana to protect the fisheries the standard spread is a blend of dust, sand and cinders. There are many rock chipped windshields out and about. The wind is evident as the flakes are fluttering down in a uniform slant. The weather has been a bit atypical of late with warmer temps over the last few weeks coupled with rain. The restoration of the standard February aspect this morning is quite welcome. Well, it being a long weekend and my having not written a post in quite a while, I thought I’d take part of the morning to update the ‘ol blog with a brief blurb.
As one might gather from the surrounding photographs, we’ve been up to some of our standard winter activities. This winter, however, we’ve had a welcome guest visiting with the Thayer household. Mariana, from San Fernando, Chile, has been with us since latter January attending classes at Sentinel High School with her ‘sister’ Erin, and attending a few classes with Todd at the University of Montana as well; at the University Mariana and Todd recently sat in on a two hour art lecture. Mariana indicated during an evening meal the same day that in the US it seemed there was more emphasis on grasping art history and attempting to understand art’s often deeper symbolic aspects. One student’s perspective following a US lecture… Mariana’s mother is an artist; perhaps this will be something to discuss when Mariana returns to Chile.
Erin and Mariana have been taking advantage of all that Missoula has to offer, going out frequently with Erin’s senior high school friends to local coffee shops, movies, book stores (there are many in Missoula), and restaurants. We’ve done some trekking with Ajax and Koda in the Rattlesnake and other popular sections in the valley. The Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork are each layered with ice at the moment, though as mentioned above we did go through a warm spell for a week or two. This weekend we spent some time north of Missoula, visiting Glacier National Park and staying at the historic Izaak Walton Inn. The Izaak Walton is in Essex, Montana, situated just downstream of the bridge and Running Rabbit Mountain where Todd and I like to put in the Rogue canoe and float the Middle Fork of the Flathead. The Rogue has a whitewater keel and is a blast on the local rivers and streams. We’ve not floated the Flathead in quite a while, however. The last time doing so, we saw numerous bears and caught quite a few Cutthroat Trout in the pristine water.
Glacier’s Lake McDonald was mostly frozen over, though where McDonald Creek drains along the Apgar Village to the south, the water was free flowing and not iced over. We took a few photographs while in the area, but stayed away from the section near the creek. Saturday it rained consistently throughout the day limiting visibility; but people were still out and about, including numerous who were ice skating along the Apgar shore. When we returned on Sunday, much of the overcast had cleared and we managed a few photos where the mountains were evident; Mariana was able to take in more of the Park’s splendor. McDonald Lodge was in hibernation, though people were in the area cross country skiing the Going to the Sun road. One fellow clad in a sable aspect decided to relieve himself almost under our noses. I took a few photographs of the snow covered cabins and of a pesky, almost obscure Raven lingering in the Cedars and Firs overhead. The portentous bird blended in quite well with his environment. I needed a better lens. Do we really need better lenses? Or, are things simply there, as evident as the air we breathe? I thought of Poe’s work as I snapped the photos.
My smartphone (one of the old style with a keyboard) recently quit accepting my password. I would reenter it, but for some reason it stayed stuck on the 3rd of 5 attempts. I relented but decided to downgrade to a flip phone. The kids think it’s pretty cool their dad has a flip phone. It works pretty well, though the pictures are subpar and email is an issue. Yet, it works well as a phone, sends and receives texts; there’s a browser, too. What more does one need? We’ll see how long the flip phone lasts, I reckon.
Life at the Izaak Walton Inn was first class. Izaak Walton was a 17th century English writer who wrote the classic work, ‘The Compleat Angler’. The Inn at Essex, Montana, was built in 1939 to help serve the wants of the Great Northern Railway, about which one can learn through the link to the Historical Society. There were many historical photographs, cartoons and stories on the wooden walls throughout the place. Surrounding the lower tavern room’s pool table were many photos exhibiting the travails of the Great Northern dealing with typical winter conditions along the drainage. Mud slides and avalanches were common as they continue to be today. There are many photographs of trains being led by an engine with a great shovel on its mouth to plow the large drifts off of the tracks. There are other photos exhibiting derailed cars scattered among the mountainside and lying in the Middle Fork.
There were many people cross country skiing on the groomed trails. The Inn offered trails with the principal three difficulty levels, black being expert, blue intermediate and green for beginners. My kids have grown up primarily alpine skiing (downhill). Some of us have done a bit of back country skiing (where one skins up the mountain and locks in the heels and skis down), but cross country skiing has generally not been our principal winter choice. That having been written, however, I’ve posted numerous posts of myself XC skiing with Seth and Erin off and on over the years (usually with the dogs). This trip we kenneled Ajax and Koda. Cabins were available in the area and we saw one fellow there on the porch with his dog. The Inn had gear available for rental, but we took along much of our own as well. Todd and Seth rented snow shoes and walked around as the balance of the party XC skied. Though this was her first time, Mariana quickly figured it out and was soon walking along fine and managing well on some of the downhill sections. A large, red snow cat came by at one point grooming the trail. I visited with the driver in an area where he refueled. Nice fellow.
Saturday evening it rained off and on consistently. We managed during a brief dry spell to walk on the trails under the lights. Many of the trails are lighted at night. The kids brought along a small computer which they plugged into a box and used for evening entertainment. Molly and I read books in the opposite room. I’ve recently been reading Dickens’ last book, ‘Our Mutual Friend’. It’s a long tale with a murky cast of characters ‘from all walks’. The Thames looms large in the story. An excellent work. The end notes in the Wordsworth Ed. of the book are well done; but, Marcus Stone’s illustrations are even better. For this little weekend jaunt to Walton, however, I brought along Knut Hamsun’s ‘Pan’. Actually, I’ve picked up a few of Hamsun’s works recently. Some of the psychology in ‘Pan’ is of interest. Glahn, the main character, is a Norwegian outdoorsman who desires the solitary life, spending time with his dog Aesop; but, he winds up in difficult situations governed apparently in some cases outside of his control. At one point Glahn shoots himself intentionally in the foot, but the Doc simply encourages him along. Hamsun, like Dickens, is familiar with the darker aspects of life. ‘Pan’ unfolds during the era of the Crimean War. It was a short, quick read. The artwork on the Penguin cover is of Munch’s ‘Jealousy’. Hamsun, like all writers, is unique; but, he reminds me a bit of London and Hemingway.This afternoon in Missoula the falling snow has turned to a steady stream of rain. Todd’s on the local ski hill with Kevin and Thomas, two of his buds. I’m glad I’m not skiing today. I will walk the dogs. Ajax is barking.
‘What do people do with them’? I asked the store attendant. ‘They put them in their wills,’ she replied. Earlier this afternoon we were in a local pet store and I was quizzing a clerk. I was amazed about how long the lifespan of a Macaw was. The store only had Parakeets, but for some reason the subject had switched to the larger birds. In fairness, when I was a child, we owned a blue and gold Macaw named Clarence; but at some point he was given away as he was fond of the lead pane in the windows in the solarium.
Chopin’s ‘Nocturnes’ play beneath the external distractions. Calm. Another fine 19th Century figure, Chopin. What is the appeal of the 1800s? Emily Dickinson’s poetry has been at the forefront lately as well. Fine writing, music and artwork – 19th Century.
It turns out ‘Brenny Bren’ (my mom) and Mariana share the same birthday. This was pretty nifty. Bren and Tom gave Mariana a nice UM Griz sweatshirt. It is nice that we’ve all been able to spend some time together between the traveling and the kids’ school and work schedules. Mariana likes books so my gift was a book of her choice from a local shop. Among the other b-day gifts from all of us, I gave Mariana a Missoula Sheepheads lid (some readers may recall these from the mountain bike racing days- I still have a few).We recently visited the Elk Foundation and the kind attendant took our picture. As locals know, there are many Not-For-Profits in Missoula. The Elk Foundation raises funds through local banquets and other methods to provide habitat for elk and other animals. The facility’s displays are educational. In the past, the facility has hosted the local youth hunter safety programs. Erin and Mariana hope to visit the Art Museum before Mariana heads back to Chile.The computer is acting squirrelly; therefore, good reader, I believe this will be a wrap for what’s been going on of late. Oh, I’ve been dabbling in painting with ink (calligraphy). What the heck, something different to go with learning a few Kanji characters.
20 Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
39 Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
3 What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?
9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of the spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
16 And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
7. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me.
1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.
4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offenses.
6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.
4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
21 But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.
12 I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.
13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain.
Holy Bible (King James Version). Columbia: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1988
Thoughts on Reaching
We walked along a channel to a sallow bay,
Gathering time mechanical had stamped its day.
Children there wallowed along vast empty fields;
Animals, jaundiced, driveled portentous peals.
Haughty man blights the mundane and the calm;
Lilies and poppies bloom a temporary balm.
The compass is locked, a bearing to the fore;
Intrinsic unknown, a distant void’s shore.
Grey swirls, a vacuum, a meandering flow,
The greater sense ‘tis better not to know.
Chaotic in nature, flushing the pastoral,
A faculty seeps with a mind’s endless toil.
Who sets the bounds, names the picturesque;
Veiled, tinctures the palette, obscure, indirect.