Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unwinding Sunlight

Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, was both inventor and philospher. He was concerned about "sustainability" in our human existence long before anyone else in the world took much notice of such things. He once said something like this: "Fire is sunlight unwinding from logs." That may not be an exact quote, but the beauty of that thought has stuck with me for some thirty years beyond when I first read it. I will not diminish Buckminster Fuller's by trying to distill his life onto my page. But I can tell you this: I always think about Buckminster Fuller when I see solar systems. This week, we installed a 2.6 kW photovoltaic array on the roof of our Montana Electrical JATC training center. The photographs I took have a beauty of their own.

This one if for you, Bucky!

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, August 15, 2010


As I told a friend of mine the other day, if she weren’t so picky about men and insistent that they have front teeth and jobs, she could date more often.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Single Toad

Something near a year ago I spoke with a biologist involved with management of Lake Helena and the wetlands surrounding. She expressed great concern (if not alarm) in the fact that frogs and toads have all but disappeared from the ecosystem there. I have, in the two preceding sentences flailed about a handful of keywords sure to set fire to any staid conversation these days: wetlands, management, and ecosystem. These words alone are enough to bring forth scoffs and indignity from a fair portion of our polity. In the conservative (political) way of reckoning this sort of problem is imagined. If not imagined, the problem is secondary to considerations of human needs and wealth.
The biologist I talked with, however, put her convictions in this fashion: “This is an indication that something is terribly wrong. They (frogs and toads) are very sensitive to chemicals and changes. Fertilizers, pesticides, and other junk have wiped them out.”

In all the time I have lived out here on the lake, which conjoins with Lake Helena by way of a channel of water that continually smuggles water and fish and an flotsam from Lake Helena and the grasp of streams beyond under the causeway—in all that time I have seen only a single toad. I nearly ran-over the toad as I approached the causeway in my truck one rainy summer night. I stopped dead in the road and allowed the little fellow to cross the pavement as lightning lacerated the flanks of mountains and the postage-stamp homes pasted to the valley floor in the valley west of us. I watched until the toad dissolved in the weedy darkness at the edge of the road.

Driving home from work this afternoon, I got to thinking about the frogs and toads. Not about all the political noise we generate around such “environmental” issues. I see the topic of glaring environmental degradation without much nuance. If we choose to look at this as we look at most everything—that is, by way of God-given superiority and dominion, we can develop and disrupt without conscious, we are limiting our own time here. By hacking away at the environment that sustains us, we become every bit the cartoon character sawing away at the limb that holds us aloft in the tree. No, I thought about the little critters themselves.
A slow bullet is plowing through the reeds to find them. I’m not sure what genetic misdeeds prompt me to worry about songbirds, starving children, murder, and frogs, but I am stuck with it. So, I thought about frogs and toads all the way home. Upon arriving at home, I called my sister Debbie on the cordless and then stepped outside to water the (probably doomed) rosebushes my oldest sister, Connie, and I planted a few weeks ago.

Grim news. Connie, who has been feeling ill for sometime, went to a doctor for an array of tests, including bloodwork. The doctor discovered a whacked blood-count, one that might be an indicator of cancer. That is our family’s own brand of slow bullet. Cancer has marauded us generation after generation. But further tests and x-rays found nothing. The bullet still tumbling at us through the weeds.

Hose in hand, I plodded toward the rosebushes as Debbie informed me that the doctor opted to put Connie on an anti-biotic, thinking her low count may be the result of some unnamed low-grade infection. For now, back to the worry and wait game. I splashed water against the bushes and dry ground as Debbie explained the obvious implications of my oldest sister’s illness...she and Connie had just finished a two-hour conversation. And, yet, this could be nothing more than a cold with legs.
Phone in one hand, hose in the other, I swung around to another doomed rose bush and flung a stream of water down over the trimmed branches. Something camouflage and fist-sized shifted position within the layer of bark Connie and I scattered around the base of the roses.

A toad!

After fretting about them for most of my drive home, I find one here at my house in the faraway sagebrush hills above the lake. How do I account for that?

--Mitchell Hegman