Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

If The Earth Could Dream

If the Earth could dream, Love, the Earth would dream us. Me, the glossy water cast against low and grassy plains. Me, the river fingering the roots of the attending cottonwood trees. You, the hills and mountains. You, the landscape that shapes me.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Montana's Mountains

Montana’s plate is set with a staggering relief of sixty-seven clearly identifiable mountain ranges, some flaring up, almost inexplicably, at center of vast and thoroughly encompassing plains. Within Montana’s far-flung ranges, nearly six-hundred peaks scramble to elevations above 10,000 feet above sea level. The lofty Beartooth Mountains, located in the southeastern part of the state near Red Lodge, are far and away the altitude kings, having some twenty-seven stony peaks that scrape clouds well above 12,000 feet. As a point of fact (one that often evades the folks in western Montana) the only peaks in the entire state that rise above 12,000 feet are those within the Beartooth Range.

Interestingly, some of our more dramatic chains—those that seem freshly axed from stone and on the verge of toppling over due to imbalance—lack utterly any peaks above the 10,000 foot mark. The Swans, the Missions, and even our Front Range, three of the most rugged and arresting strings, are included in this. These ranges do, however, offer some of the greatest relief. The most relief can be found in Glacier Park, where some mountains climb a full 7,000 feet from valley floor to powder horn peak.

The theatrical ambitions of our mountains end with neither the handsome nor the enterprising climbs and runs of landscape. These vertical ranges both breed and grapple with stormfronts. The peaks continuously bat clouds back and forth. Chill winds spill down into the warmer valleys from ice fields. Ranges gobble up entire lighting storms. Water leaps down from chevron plates and overhanging shelves and shreds down toward creeks and rivers below. Whole forests of trees sway in unison. Herds of elk flow into meadows like tide waters into open bays.

Implausible differences in annual rainfall can be found in the vicinity of our mountains. The highest summits might claw from the stormy skies up to four-hundred inches of snow in a single season, while the long valleys below remain mostly empty and dry. This wedded with wildly unpredictable summer rains often accounts for improbable variance, ranging from a total of sixty inches of rainfall per year in the peaks, to well below fourteen inches of annual moisture on the plains. A drive of only thirty miles might take you from landscapes that gather fifty inches of rain each year to land that survives on merely a dozen. Here in Helena, where I live, we average just slightly less than a dozen inches of rain. Conversely, the deep green forest just off Lake McDonald, in Glacier Park, is the furthest inland rain forest in the West. Certain locations within that small area receive over two-hundred inches of rain a year.

I find the isolated ranges at center of plains, the so-called island ranges, the most fascinating. And they are, in nearly every sense, like an island, rising in stark clarity from our extended plains—blue castles massed above blonde oceans of grass. These islands hold in isolation conifer forests and elk and wolverine and moose and bear. They generate and sustain their own weather. You have to hold in awe anything capable of that.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Milestone

I’ve nearly reached that point in life where I don’t care if I drop the spoons in the fork slot of my silverware drawer.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 6, 2010


 We are riding in a foot-smelling bus,thirteen blonde girls and me.
The girls? Chubby, but pretty,
like Marilyn Monroe.
Outside the bus? Snow.
The television kind of snow. Electronic.
Maybe too busy for real snow.
“I want sex,” I tell the nearest Marilyn.
“You’re old,” she replies.
Outside the bus, the snowfall shafts by in a new direction,
insensitive, otherworldly.
We are headed to a bad end
and the Kennedy’s are to blame.

--Mitchell Hegman