Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Hoarfrost is probably my favorite of winter’s many presentations.  It’s way better than the presentation where you and your buddy get a four-wheel-drive truck stuck in deep snow halfway to the middle of nowhere.  And way better than the one where your big sister talks you into sticking your tongue onto a metal post in subzero temperatures.
The “hoar” in hoarfrost, near as I can tell from slipping around on the internet, is derived from the Old English term “har,” meaning gray or white with connotations of old age.
Hoarfrost develops on almost anything upright when ideal conditions persist: trees, grass, and fences.  Overnight, a brilliant white sheath of scales grows on every exposed limb, every post, and every wire.  Even overhead powerlines become enveloped in frost.
So far as frost goes, hoarfrost is easily the most fragile of formations.  Shaking a heavily bejeweled tree or bumping against an encrusted fence will cause the frost to detach and spill down wholesale.  The entire coat of frost will instantly shed as sparkles of so much fairy dust.  A brisk wind will clear an entire landscape in a spectacular wash of sparkles.
Yesterday morning came with heavy hoarfrost and a cold inversion pressed against the prairie south of my home.  As soon as the sun cleared the hills east of my house, I ran outside to capture images.  The last photograph features my house when the sun, as it does, finally scoured the frozen mist from the earth.

-- Mitchell Hegman 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I once thought a man was not a man
who did not smoke cigarettes to nubs,
drink late,
and espouse Charles Bukowski.
I girled-up, though, and quit smoking
and I worked.
My legs hurt.  My Back.
But up went the airport terminal,
the hydroelectric plant, towers on bald hills,
garish houses, workshops.
I armored-up, edged my sword,
marched against my own better judgement,
marched against my own leisure.
Until yesterday.
Yesterday, I thrust my leave-taking letter
through a mailbox slot,
and imagined plunging my sword into the hard belly of a dragon.
My sword sharp and brilliantly white.
To hell that dragon.
To hell you hot bastard.
-- Mitchell Hegman
NOTE: The above writing is what happens if you drink coffee and think about Bukowski the morning after dropping an application for retirement benefits in the mail.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Day at the 4R Ranch

Picture yourself sprawled face down in two feet of snow.  The equivalent of half-sheets of plywood have been strapped to your feet and you are not certain you can extricate yourself from the snow.  A pair of over-exuberant dogs are bouncing—no—swimming like porpoises through the snow around you.  Some birds in a nearby aspen seem to be laughing.
What I have just described is something we call “snowshoeing.”
I am mostly kidding, of course.  Snowshoeing is far more beautiful than the tumbles you might (will) take.
Winter in the mountains affords a great and extraordinary quiet.   Pure white meadows of untracked snow sparkling from end to end.  The rest of the expanse—the rolling, upward surging landscape—is either evergreen, blue, or white.  Nothing else compares to the purity, the serenity of deep untracked snow.  The sun is brighter.  The whites are whiter.  The greens are greener.  The blues are bluer. 
Winter seems one big soft thing.
Yesterday, that girl and I drove into the Elkhorn Mountains to snowshoe with our friends Patti and Tom.  They own the 4R Ranch, a 900 acre slice of mountain perfection just below the highest mountains in the range.  We started our trek right at their front door and snowshoed in a perfect returning circle under a warm sun.

-- Mitchell Hegman 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tracks in the Snow

At this point, the ice on the lake below my house is some eighteen inches thick.  Yesterday, with temperatures reaching into the forties, that girl and I walked down to the lake and then tromped onto the perfectly flat, snow-covered surface.  All the way down to the lake and across the surface of the ice, the snow told tales of crossings and explorations.  But mostly the day was given to our deep blue sky.

-- Mitchell Hegman 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Snow and a Promise of Sunshine

We have “his” and “hers” channels on television, magazines for people who like to lift weights, and talk radio channels where people yell overtop each other all day long.  You can find stores selling nothing but household appliances, communities where only “seniors” live, and youth groups in almost every church.  We have social media in our ear and at our face 24/7.  We have cell phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, and something blinking in every room.
We have fully electrified, specified, connected, protected, and streamed in.
But on a morning like this, I want nothing more than to drive deep into the mountains, fasten a pair of old-school snowshoes to my boots, and slowly trudge across the white silence of an open meadow making blue holes with my tracks.

-- Mitchell Hegman 

Friday, January 12, 2018

In Measure

On the whole, I think half my problems are the result of me spending a quarter of my time accomplishing only a fifth of what should be done.

-- Mitchell Hegman 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Building: Little Victories

I have always liked building projects.  Though building my own home got a bit rushed and intense at the end, I found the project both enjoyable and immensely satisfying.  I have been steadily working to construct and complete my cabin since 2003.  I work in “flurries” when I am there.
I have learned a lot about construction while doing my various projects.  I regularly reach out to others I know in the trades when I bump into something that confounds me.  Laying out the stairs at my cabin, for example, was a bit much for me.
One aspect I like about construction is that when you get hung up on details in one spot, you can always move to a new spot, make some noise, make a big mess, and produce some kind of progress.  Eventually—maybe after outside advice—you go back and finish the spot where something hung you up.
Actually, finishing a project is not nearly as satisfying to me as the thousand little victories that got me there.  Even today, as I sit writing this, I recall some of the victories in my home's construction twenty-seven years ago: finishing the lighting valance above me, completing the bay window framing.  I recall the day my buddy Bill and I finished joist lay-out for the sunken living room.  When we pulled corner-to-corner measurements to see if the layout was square, we discovered the layout perfect.
I can go from room to room filling my mind with these memories.

-- Mitchell Hegman