Monday, October 28, 2013

Before the Storm : Happy in Montana

East end of McDonald Lake 
 I was just out splitting wood. It sounds very poetic. The reality is that it is very much like Yoda teaching Luke how to levitate things. You have to feel the force. As a female I have been indoctrinated to avoid hitting things. When you split wood the whole idea is to hit something and hard. Before you think this is a sad and difficult life I lead, know I can at any time turn on the propane furnace. I digress......

Saturday was a beautiful and noteworthy Fall day. So instead of cleaning the house, I went to Glacier for a quick peek before the Storm. Weather reports called for strong winds and snow starting Sunday afternoon for 24 hours. The trip to Glacier was of course rewarding . It was quiet as this is not the tourist season and the government shutdown had caused lots of people to cancel vacations. Oddly enough as I approached the entrance there wasn't anyone at the ranger station to check my season's pass. So I rolled on through. Slowly of course.
A random rock Cairn on the side of the creek

Looking west from a  creek as it enters the Lake
 After hiking a bit up at Avalanche and the Trail of the Cedars, the sun sets providing a spectacular show as it slides over the western mountains .
The definition of Serenity 
 Serenity is a state and choice of mind. It is also found in many of the Earth's sacred places. McDonald Lake is such a place.
Alpine Glow on the Continental Divide 
 Bringing the afternoon to a close we stopped for a quick drink from Mc Donald Lake and to take in the ethereal colours that result in the these high latitudes as the sun sinks westerly.
One last stop to say good bye to the Lake
 The skies were a bit hazy Saturday as people west of the Park were  burning brush piles and the the smoke was drifting east.
Leaving the Park 
 The western larch are in full dress today . Sunday the winds were 40 to 60 mph and stripped  the needles . Saturday was  the day to enjoy the beautiful golden trees.

Sunday continues with wind and at least later some sunny skies.  We lost our electricity in the wind last night ( twice ) so I cranked up the wood stove. A totally different experience burning wood in the West vs the East . The Lodgepole burns hot and you need to do smaller loads. A different rhythm from South Eastern hard woods. The house is toasty ( almost too toasty) We expect 15 degrees tonight . The house is buttoned up and my wood splitting was successful. I simply had to focus on the log in question and whack the hell out of it  . A little creative visualization helped. Grateful to be in tonight. Wishing the deer a snug sheltered pasture to pass the night.

Marley contemplating the Lake and afternoon

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Trip to the Forest Floor : Fungal Goodness

"Nature alone is Antique, and the oldest art a Mushroom"  ~ Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

 A trip to the forest floor today . In such a semi arid area one would not expect to be finding so many fungal species thriving. Carefully making my way in the lower wetland part of the yard there are mushrooms of all descriptions . Small petite ones hide amongst the mosses . Large Mushrooms pop up in protected tree roots .
 Some petite babies next to a vibrant yellow fungus. There is a notion that only the poisonous mushrooms are brightly colored . But this is not necessarily true as both edible and poisonous species can have brilliant hues.

 These babies are about 5 inches across. They were nestled in the grasses below the White Pine tree.

 Deep in the forest the floor sustains a whole array of life . Mosses abound and the floor is green with these little creatures .
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As dusk approaches the mushrooms keep watch in the forest

Monday, October 21, 2013

Winding down: Fall sings it's last colors

Burst of Color
 The last of Fall's colours are bursting daily , teasing the snow on the mountain ridges. Taunting winter's whites with the vivid palette only found in Autumn. The golds are more gold and the reds are more red with the slanting of the evening rays.
Peaceful duck
 A Peaceful duck amid the water plants, I think it is still because it feels so safe and invisible . Do you fly boldly across the water surface like the geese or do you find your strategy more like this little one?Quiet , still , barely noticed in the chaos of the world around you .
On the Way Home,  Happy in Montana at the foot of "Little Half Dome"
 My favorite pasture. So much goes on in this pasture year round. Cows graze , deer graze , elk graze. This is a busy place. Home and sustenance to many . The hay has been harvested and the Western Larch are turning golden on the slopes above.
Curious bird, who are you ? 
 A cute little game bird with a dulled startle reflex. He or she does not seem to mind me at all. Some would probably like to see this cutie on a spit and over a fire. I think it is just fine enjoying the grasses of the pasture.
In the crown, the western larch becomes golden
A magical time when the Western Larch turns and becomes golden for a few weeks. The trees faired better this year , we had more water and they aren't dropping their needles in August like 2012. I have to admit I aimed my sprinkler at this kind old soul a few times during the dry season. We all deserve a drink, one that refreshes. So fall is winding down. We have been promised a warm week coming up but also hints of colder times to come. It is the end of October . A sunny day to plant tulips and crocus for the spring that will be welcomed in 6 months.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy in Montana : Fall Visions

afternoon snack

Echo Lake sitting at the foot of Jewel basin
 Just a bit of a jaunt to the nearby lake . It is a peaceful day with little wind . A muskrat swims near by but is too fast for me today. The air has a hint of winter in it today with the cloudy skies.
Lakeside goodness


Peaceful Duck 
 Little Miss Duck hanging out in the reeds . She is quiet and hardly takes notice of me.
Little Half Dome

Red Maple goodness
Waiting all year for this moment when the chlorophyll takes it's leave and allows the reds to shine through. A short week or two in the fall but worth the wait.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy in Montana: Using your gifts

Flathead Lake sunset Geese on the wing
Standing high above the waters on the east shore of the Flathead Lake a small quiet voice was imploring me to use my talents. I thought about this as I drove home . We all can look into our hearts and see what talents we possess. The highest good for us is to use our talents and gifts for the most positive thing we can manifest. It is an open opportunity. What does your heart say to you ?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Running in the Wind

Flathead Lake with 3 to 4 foot swells
A quick errand and visit in Denver . Monday 9/30 started out warm and windy in the Flathead. There were 3 to 4 foot waves on the lake with plenty of dramatic splashing along the rocky edge. Heading down Hwy 35 to Polson.
Homestake Pass( 6329 feet ) Continental Divide
Butte lies nestled on the West side of the continental divide. Homestake Pass is in the mid 6000 feet and  something to keep an eye on when the weather is questionable. No real bad weather to be noted on this Monday. I brought the emergency totes with me anyway and had my shovel stowed in the back . So far the weather is looking great and I am definitely over prepared .
Mountains south of Livingston MT
 Scooting down I 90 I experiment with cruise control which I have to say is just weird . I like to drive the car and having the CC on is not my thing. It is handy in work zones to avoid tickets but the rest of the time I like to be "one " with the car. Besides if the car is driving my mind tends to wander and I quit watching the road. I wonder if others have this problem?
Sunset near Livingston Montana
I am lucky to be passing Livingston Mt just about sunset . The mountains are gorgeous with the Alpine glow tonight. Great timing . The light changes everything . South of Livingston is Yellowstone National Park. Another trip for another day.
Flying into Wyoming
Next day Tuesday Oct 1 , on the road after spending the night in Billings. A few hours south and we are in Wyoming. Wyoming is an awesome place. Lots of wide open space . I enjoy this kind of thing but I can see how it could be disconcerting if you are used to the city and that rhythm.
Antelope are everywhere!
 I suppose Wyoming could grow on you . Now if you are in the East you probably don't see much difference in the emptiness of Wyoming versus the emptiness of Montana. The empty of Wyoming is definitely kicked up a notch . Eastern Montana runs a close second.But there are the antelope and the endless vistas. Pretty nice on the first day of October.
Bighorn Mountains

More Antelope
The one thing nice about antelope is they seem to avoid the highway a bit better than the deer.  The deer , ah the deer , really like the roads and subsequently cars and trucks . We were fairly lucky in that we didn't see many deer at all , Just some mule deer on the way back . I missed them as I was working hard keeping the car on the road in the prestorm that left 30 inches of snow just about where these antelope are hanging out.
Antelope enjoying the irrigated fields 

Enjoying some Starbuck's goodness and downtown Denver ambience
 So after Cheyenne there is civilization and lots of people. In fact you cross into Colorado and you have more people  than you can shake a stick at .We visited friends and took in some nice Downtown Denver and good coffee.  A walk by the Platte River had colorful sunflowers and mid 70s weather. Who knew the next day would turn into an October snow superstorm .
Sunniness next to the river

Crazy Mountains after the storm
 So good fortune was with us and we made Billings at 5 PM on Thursday ahead of the feet of snow that socked in Wyoming. We saw some snow north of Sheridan but then it turned to rain the rest of the way. I set out for NW Montana before 8 AM and headed down I 90 West. The temperature was 33 to 37 degrees so the roads were pretty good except an over pass near Big Timber where the air had cooled to 28 degrees. A bit of slip and slide there . The Crazy Mountains were a glorious site to see in the early morning light with their new snow frosting. This is an untouched picture of the Crazies just west of Billings.
Beautiful I 90 hurtling West past Billings
About 6 inches of snow in Montana , alot less than the 30 inches in Buffalo Wy. I am so glad we didn't get caught in that . Everytime you passed an interstate barricade it reminded you that indeed your trip could be cut short by blowing and drifting snow.
snowy wonderland in October
 The driving wasn't too bad all in all . Traveling west there is Livingston which was a bit slushy and Bozeman Hill. I took that one slow and stayed in a lower gear with the trucks. Somehow it seems silly to drive 70 when you really don't know if the road is frozen here and there .
 Finally several hours later I have zipped through Missoula and headed up the Mission Valley where the skies had returned to blue and no snow in sight except up in the higher elevations. What a welcome site .
Mission Mountains 

Fall still rules in North West Montana
Just before Saint Ignatius the valley is glorious. The Mission Falls are still running in the center of the picture. A small little crook that is about a couple thousand foot drop. Next to the 9000 foot peaks the water fall appears so small.
Pelicans feeding at Ninepipes
The sun is slowly making it's way West. I stopped for a minute at Ninepipes to see who was feeding today in the shallow waters. Six or seven large pelicans were fishing and enjoying the sun of the late afternoon. Almost home . Feels good to think I am two hours away. I am grateful that I missed the worst of the snow that paralyzed Wyoming and South Dakota. Truly hardy folks who live in these areas. My hat is off to them . Hoping they have some quick melting and not too much damage.