Monday, December 24, 2012

The little snowman house

Snowman House
This little snowman house is special. It has survived a couple of decades after my mother made it in a ceramics class at a local park. So it is fragile . Like life in a way. It has traveled nearly 3000 miles bouncing around in the back of a 26 foot Uhaul. That is a miracle in itself that it made it here in one piece. Decorations and keepsakes always have a story . This little snowman house has it's story and it is sweet. I hope this holiday brings sweetness into your life too.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lengthening Days

Frosted Foothills
Many people imagine that January is a gloomy month. However for me getting through November and the first three weeks of December is the chore. The days are getting shorter and are grey more than not. After the Winter Solstice we start adding minutes to the day as the Northern Hemisphere tilts back towards the warmth of the Sun. Many folks think that the seasons are caused by our relative distance to the sun. However we have the changing of the seasons due to the 23.45 degree tilt of the Earth's Axis. Our position in the grand ellipse around the Sun has little effect. How amazing that a slight nod towards the Sun can create our warm summer season allowing us to grow food.
Sun riding low in the Southern Skies
 For now the northern reaches of the Swan Range lies sleepily beneath this years' snowfall. The valley is sunny while the foothills have their own weather events at 7000 feet.
Wheat sleeping beneath the snow
 The promise of a crop this spring as the snow nourishes the seeds and protects them from frigid over night temperatures .
Strawberry Mountain Gleaming in the distance
Finishing the journey home Strawberry Mountain is glowing with the recent snow. I particularly enjoy the cloud play.
Snow shoeing on the access road to Strawberry Mountain
A fine end to the day before night fall over takes the daylight. A bit of snow shoeing up the access road to Strawberry Mountain. I recently snagged a pair on sale at Sierra Trading Post . So far they work pretty good. With a beautiful sky above and a foot of snow under my feet , it couldn't be better. A good day to face the sun and appreciate the warmth. Say hello!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunshine and shoveling

Digging the path
After 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday morning the Sun broke through the clouds and the morning work was admired. A path was made to the drive and the ritual of piling the snow has begun. Key to the summer survey is where to put the snow in the winter. I am lucky as there are several areas to "pile".Also key to the strategy is to shovel the snow while it is still soft. We had a nice day Friday in the high 20s as the powder accumulated. Saturday was also balmy however over night to Sunday morning it went to 14 degrees. Powder is definitely easier to move than snow frozen over and over. This comes back to the whole philosophy of making hay while the sun is shining. Or something like that adapted to snow. 
roof glacier
 People from the East marvel that I have no gutters. Well if I did put them on they would just be ripped off during winter. Likewise when putting a chimney on the roof , the closer to the apex the better as said roof glacier delights in ripping off chimneys as well. Icicles above dance in the afternoon  sunlight with lots of rainbows in the shifting light .
Western Larch dressed in snow
The Western Larch is bare for the winter but today dressed in a snow gown. Many a newby has accidentally cut all of their larch in the winter thinking they are dead. These Evergreens are also deciduous in that they shed their needles in the Fall creating a golden landscape along the lower elevations of the Mountains.My daughter and her BF were here late September . They helped with clearing some of the extra brush . We made two big piles of brush. My best intentions were to have it chipped up before snow however now I am glad I am tardy in my chores. The local deer population has been munching on the conveniently low branches now that the snow is covering so much of the grasses. They seem to enjoy the soft bark and remaining green needles.
Evening Rays
A fine end to a day of working outside. The sun casts some golden rays our way painting the tips of the trees as sunset nears.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wordless Saturday


12 inches later

While I was at work the weather was up to some mischief. It snowed all day at work over in the Valley. I knew that if it was heavy in town then out at the homestead it would be more. Along the Swan Mountains it is the snow belt . Generally we have at least twice the snow as town . Last March we had a foot over night and when I drove into town it was raining . So same Lantern but tonight it is standing next to a foot of snow on the deck. Roads were quite tolerable but the last 1000 feet of the dirt road was not plowed. Very sad news for the corolla. However the corolla was brave and flew up the dirt road in great style , the garage door opened with a touch of the button and we landed safely inside. What an adventure. Now the only thing to do was to hike to the house 100 feet away  and dig a path to the door . Tonight the odds are with the Mountain Lion. A foot of snow really slows you down during the dash to the house. The snow is great in the winter as it gathers the available star and moonlight. This  makes the long winter nights less dreary.
A very good nite to all . Safely inside and munching a sandwich with hot tea!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

100% Snow

 So driving home without a care in the world after work. The sky is cloudy and the sun has set but the roads are dry and we are moving right along. When suddenly someone switches on the snow button. By the time I hit Woody's the Snow was coming down pretty convincingly. So the last 8 miles was driven with care. I don't have my snow legs yet and didn't want to be the first one in the ditch looking stupid.
 Ahhh the dash to the front porch form the Garage. About 80 feet . Always the question. Will I get there before the cat ? Not just any cat but the nice Mountain Lion in residence. Now that the ground has snow cover he won't be able to sneak around without being noticed.
 More snow and expecting I would suspect a lot more since the weather folks said 100%  chance of snow. Of course that begs the question of 100% of what?
 The Most coveted Marley. Out for a snow romp with the other dogs . I took a picture of them but they looked like red eyed demon dogs so we aren't putting that pic in the blog. scary. But there was a lot of snow licking and racing about being quite crazy in the frozen precipitation.
For now good night. My brave LED lantern lights the way on these final cold days of 2012. But are they the final days or will 2013 greet us just around the corner. What do you think as we hurtle towards the Galactic Center?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shameless promotion

John and Jen
I have to make some noise about an artist I know quite well. He is truly the Renaissance Man. Earning a Bachelors in Fine Arts and a Masters in Art to teach science, he produces wonderful creations. His expertise ranges from Painting to making Furniture. And I do mean furniture the old school way. Well made and beautifully chosen woods that will last a lifetime and more. I have a few of these and cherish all of them. As we well know most Artists are not famous in their lifetime. However he is too much of a treasure not to share. His name is John and his link to his blog is below. If you need a nice wood rolling pin or candlesticks visit his link  for his blog.  johnhunterdesigns

He has an  Etsy shop here

Monday, November 26, 2012

popcorn snow

 The day started sunny and warm. Warm being over 40 degrees. Then some wet pelting big fat flakes . Then the fun began. Lot's of bouncy round graupel falling everywhere and piling up nicely. It danced on the roof and flung itself to the ground where more bouncing was to take place .
 Graupel in the peachy sunset light.
Through the woods the neighbor horses do not seem to mind the weather. Another peaceful end of the day. Snow comes  in so many different ways . We will wait to see what is on the menu for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On the way home

 On the way home with Whitefish Mountain in the rear view mirror.It has been an active weather day with lots of clouds and differing precipitation. Rain in the valley with Mountain snow. The clouds are dramatic.
 Crossing the Flathead River bridge a rainbow broke through the clouds . Just a bit of the river peaking through the trees on the left side of the picture. This has been a colorful few weeks with the Western Larches turning golden on the mountain sides
 Closer to home breezing through the fertile fields ever vigilant watching , scanning for the deer that roam the area. Mist rising from the recent precipitation as the cooler air of the night settles in the valley. Below one of my favorite fields where deer can often be seen in the early hours of the morning . Tonight as dusk approaches it is quiet.
 These are my favorite cows. I suppose in rural areas that is the norm to enjoy a herd as you drive by each day  and  they say hello. It is interesting to notice which way they are all turned depending on the weather. One particularly cold morning they were bunched up in the trees to the left using the hill as a wind break. Smart bovine I would say. Many times deer will be keeping them company at a distance. There is also a cream colored cat that is often in the field although of late I haven't seen much of him.
 Dusk proceeds. The mists rise. A lone light beckons and looks comforting in the growing dark. In the distance Strawberry Mountain , Jewel Basin and Mount Aeneas on the right . The Swan Range is graceful in the glowing twilight.
 At home in the snow belt there is still some snow from the last fall . Something was in the yard earlier. I pull out my favorite book Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains by James Halfpenny and look for the pattern. Interestingly enough the cotton tail , jack and snowshoe hare all have different "hops". It appears to be a snow shoehare. Hardly surprising as I have seen them cruising through the yard at times. I hope he has a cozy burrow and was on the way to get warm for the night. Sounds like a good idea.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Memories of Late Summer

 Last lazy warm days of summer looking over Jewel Basin. A trip to Echo Lake and a chance for the most coveted Marley to go swimming.
 The great leaping dog. He would do this for hours .
 What a big splash! Marley is about 70 pounds and makes quite the entry into the water.
What a strong swimmer! What a great delight watching him swim in the clear lake. Animals bring so much joy to life. They have such a happy spirit! Enjoy your pets today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Snow

 First snow to lay. Oct 23. Early by anyone's reckoning. Perhaps it will melt but we are forecasted to have snow all this week . Time to put the snow tires on.
 Deep in the woods the happy little Colorado Spruce have their first dusting of snow. Yesterday was busy planting the rest of the potted plants before the snow started.
Evidence that the deer came through early this morning. We will see if any other visitors are around the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flags for Peace Project

A good friend has a nice blog up with many creative ways of looking at Peace for this Earth. Peace Day is in the month of September . There are many gentle reminders of this idea to be found on the blog. Just click on the link above.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Jewel

 Sunday broke cool but not clear. We have had a lot of smoke in the valley from the Washington wild fires. No rain for most of August and September has made it impossible for the firefighters to get ahead of the fires west of us. We had thought about heading to Glacier but decided to hike close in Jewel Basin. On the way down the road my daughter spotted a medium sized black bear hustling across the road. We drove the six miles up to Camp Misery and the trail head. Dusty narrow climbing to over 5000 feet . The air in the basin was not as smoky as the valley but we lacked the usual blue sky.
 Traveling up the trail a nice spring fed creek slips out from under massive rocks. I was glad to see some water sources for the wild animals. ( even the griz) there are several tagged griz here in Jewel Basin. We had headed up another trail for a few hundred feet however there was an overwhelming smell of very wet dirty bear. We decided to take another trail in the opposite direction.
 We were treated to some fall colour and massive rocks as the trail wound its way up the mountain.
 the trail cut through dense forest and underbrush ( perfect for hiding bears)
 The evergreens were happy and perfectly shaped. Their needles were soft and fragant. It was nice to say hi to them as we headed for the bald in the picture below. It had experienced a fire many years ago and was bare on the South side facing the smoky valley below.

 Looking down into the basin is the parking lot and Camp Misery. What a name. It looked pretty inviting to me. Below the trail running up the bald. Dead trees standing in quiet in the smoky afternoon warmth.
Climbing the summit
 A map of the Jewel Basin area and Camp Misery. Lots of opportunity to see some beautiful country.
Jewel Basin Map

 A good afternoon and a good ending to another "little feet " adventure .

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Geese on the Move, Fall is here

Early morning flight , geese on the move
For the last few mornings as the sun peaks over the foothills to the East, hundreds of geese have taken to the sky. It is awe inspiring to see flock after flock launch and head South. They hear the beat . They understand the timing. No iphones, no internet. These guys and gals are tuned into the Innernet and feel the force of life in every cell of their feathered bodies. What a sight . Welcome Fall and we look forward to your speedy return next Spring. .

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Silent Sunday .....

Avalanche Gorge photo by John Hunter Speier

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No Pictures

I want you to share my mind's eye . Just for one blog post no pictures. It is Tuesday and sunny 60 degrees and windy but not too much. Golden fields at harvest time in the broad valley. Mountains rising 3000 to 4000 feet above the valley reaching for the blue skies and scattered puffy clouds. A rural highway running through a rural farming community . A small crossroads  in this small farming community of Creston. On one of the four corners of the crossroads is a volunteer fire station. An older building but what is striking are the two firemen in full gear standing silently holding an American Flag. There is a neatly placed stack of empty gear between them. They stand at attention , motionless, the definition of dignity. They stand in salute of their fallen brothers in New York. A tragedy so far away from this rural farm community 3000 miles west . They honor the lost and their last deeds of courage.

On this day we remember and honor  those lost on  September 11th , 2001. We thank all emergency responders for their service past and present .We pray for those family members that carry on after the ultimate loss.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


End of August goodness. On the way home I came across a herd of about 20 young deer. Many still having their sweet spots from baby times. A nice evening to socialize as the temperatures are balmy and the sun is gentle . A moment of ease before the winter sets in .