Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Pop Quiz about Nature

Choose the best answer for each of the following questions.  This quiz has a 3 minute time limit. 
1.      How many pine trees are required to make a pine forest?

a.       1

b.      100

c.       1000

d.      Depends on the type of pine.

2.      A stream becomes river when:

a.       You cannot jump over it.

b.      You cannot safely wade across it.

c.       Geese flock to it.

d.      The stream courses through a pine forest.

3.      When giving names to passing clouds, you should:

a.       Whistle before giving each name.

b.      Close your eyes when you pick each name.

c.       Imagine a new language to use in naming them.

d.      Any 2 of the above.

4.      How many aspen trees are required to comprise an aspen grove?

a.       1

b.      2

c.       10

d.      To be determined by local authority having jurisdiction.

5.      Winter is officially at an end when:

a.       A skunk crosses through your headlights on your drive to work.

b.      The morning snow melts by noon.

c.       You see your first bluebird.

d.      The ice melts from the surface of the nearest lake or pond.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 30, 2012

What I Thought I Heard

As is often the case when I am listening to the news, I hear what I wish to hear as opposed to what the newspeople are actually dispensing.  This habit is pretty helpful in maintaining what I prefer to believe rather than the reality actually facing me.  Years ago, I recall hearing someone on the news say:  “…and comics may crash into the moon.”  Only after sitting there, quite puzzled, imaging my favorite comedian flying through space toward the face of the moon, did I realize that the sacrificing body in question was a comet and not a stand-up about to deliver a final punch-line.      
Early this morning, when someone on a show populated with nicely dressed political yappers suggested that the presidential nominees would soon be sorted-out in the political primary season, I swear I heard that the nominee would be picked at the political crime scene.
I think I am going to just trot on ahead with that one.
--Mitchell Hegman  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Empty Soda Can Tumbles by You

One morning you wake to a small window facing a narrow alley in Great Falls, Montana, and when you look outside an empty soda can tumbles by you in a blast of wind.  You try to recall if another day in your life ever started this way.
No.  Not ever.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Simple Thought

People who consider highways important have not spent enough time on a good river filled with trout.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday, Time to Find a Fight

Back in our high-school days, we “cruised the drag” as I suspect everyone did in all of the cookie-cutter towns spattered across the map.  The idea behind cruising the drag was to connect with girls and friends and ultimately find parties.  Well, I should more properly say that those ideas propelled most of the kids filling the night streets and parking lots of or town.  We also had driving up and down the street, with stereo blasting out-of-date tunes, the occasional twenty-something who forgot to grow up when they reached the age of nineteen.  And in Helena, Montana, you normally found added into our mix the F----- brothers.
I suspect that the F----- brothers were unique to us.  Hopefully so.
The three F----- brothers made notable exceptions to most globally accepted ideas of fun and rules of conduct.  They stormed the streets aching for as fight.  We bumped into them often enough—one or more of them hanging from the window of their blue Dodge Dart flipping everyone the bird as they whizzed by, throwing beer cans at passing cars, screeching through parking lots pitching insults at everyone.  At times they took a more direct approach and simply stood at the center of the street we circulated and blocked traffic until someone stepped out of a car to challenge them.  You could count on somebody fighting if you saw that Dodge Dart parked somewhere on or near the drag
The important point, as far as the F----- brothers were concerned, was that all (or at least one) of them managed to stir-up a fight on Friday night.  On those nights where none of their advances or offences managed to promote a decent fight, they would, sometime after midnight, resort to beating the hell out of each other in a crude kind of practicality that evaded those of us not yet concerned with any reasonable or unreasonable sort of  practicality.  If we drove past the Dodge Dart parked along the street and found the doors flung open and the brothers beside it, throwing punches at each other, we knew should be heading home, the hour was late.  Nothing more would develop for the night.
As a footnote, I might mention that I worked with two of the F----- brothers on a construction job some fifteen or so years after my high-school graduation.  They had become carpenters.  I found myself liking them immensely.  They worked hard and displayed good humor with only the random fit of anger that forced one or the other of them to throw their framing hammer clear through a sheetrock wall.  I suspect that we all grow up, at least until we start sheet-rocking.    
--Mitchell Hegman  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chinook Winds

I swear, yesterday the warm Chinook winds played the long-needle pines behind my house like fiddles.  I heard the low tones see-sawing up and down, back and forth, as the wind gusts stroked like a bow against the uplifting branches.  The trees danced in place.  Above that, the heavy clouds tumbled forth, allowing only snatches of sunlight to wink at us now and then.   In just a few hours, the midsummer winds displaced our winter and melted away half of the snow.  The white blanket shed from my roof entirely.
Spring for one day in January…like a single shiny dime in a pile of aged pennies.
You know what they say about out Montana weather…
--Mitchell Hegman


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bad Habits

I have a host of bad habits that have been impossible to shake…as example, waking up and getting out of bed every morning.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 23, 2012


Last night, I slept sideways in bed and equally sideways in my mind.  I awakened once, feeling slightly disorientated, discovering my windows and digital clock seemingly in the wrong places.  Once awake, I found myself thinking about Gus, the old man who lived in a rundown log cabin behind our house when I was a small boy.  Giant cottonwood trees stood all around his cabin and tall grass and weeds thrived nearby.  Gus always wore a black Fedora hat and dark jacket as he sat in a wooden kitchen chair just outside his door on the hottest of summer days.  One summer day, when I went to visit with him in the shade of those cottonwood trees, he told me that the trees were no taller than me and skinny as a broom handle when he planted them as a young man.
Back then, I struggled greatly to imagine Gus young and those trees small.  Last night, sideways in this world, I imagined Gus planting those trees.  Only through the approach of my own old-age have I mapped the way back to that time.
Leaving for work this morning, I backed my truck under the splay of branches from the Mayday tree that I planted so small I was able to toss a blanket overtop to protect it from the first late spring snow the tree endured.   
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Shawl and Top Hats

Last week, a winter storm draped a flawlessly white shawl of fresh snow overtop our valley and the crown of mountains that surround.  Reported snow accumulations vary from point to point, generally stacking higher as you climb into the mountains.  At my house, I am guessing that I netted something near eighteen inches of fluffy powder.  This storm conceived a rather more fashionably appealing look than do our usual storms thanks, mostly, to a lack of winds during and after the snowfall.  The tops of fenceposts and trees and manner of upright things sported tall white top hats of snow when the sun finally emerged and the stormfront eased away.  Diving home on Friday, I stopped to snap a few photographs of the horse-ranch country near my house.  I have posted a photo of the snow-softened landscape that I snapped near my home in the low hills.  
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Quote

“People who keep dogs are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves”
--August Strindberg

Friday, January 20, 2012

Paper Lanterns

Another picture I snapped in Seoul, South Korea. Ultimately, I like color photographs that are all about the colors and the patterns colors make.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Abstract and Concrete

My young friend, Randy St. Clair, writes an interesting blog called East Acre and Beyond.  Not long ago, he posted a lovely poem titled Through Doors and Into Places   The poem is about managing and toying with memories.  I very much like the phrase “through doors and into places,” and wish that I had written that line myself.  Such lines in abstract terms hang above me like boulders I am free to dislodge and send tumbling through my own memories and thoughts kicking up images from my own life.  You see, I have been through doors and I have been into places.  So have you.
I enjoy a good mix between the abstract (without specific detail) and the concrete (with subjects certain) in writing.  I consider abstract lines sort of like conveyer belts in terms of writing.  They either allow the reader to load something on them from their own mind as they read, or they can be used by the writer to feed into more concrete images that then smash onto the reader as if concrete blocks dropped from above.  As example I might write this: “I have followed love and lost my way.  This is entirely abstract in terms of composition, having no definite subject or image, but the reader will certainly affix something of their own to this.  In a sense, I have set them up to drop a concrete block on them.  So, here is how I would use the abstract and the concrete together:
I have followed love and lost my way.  I have taken the hand of a woman in a red dress and leapt from the sea-cliff.  We have lighted the tilted lanterns only to part in the gray silence of a stilted dusk.  Our reflections met at the mirror and there we dissolved.   
In the above paragraph I also used another favorite device of my own—to use three images for the same intent—to repeatedly strike, as if with a hammer.  Regarding my own memories, I Sometimes I beat my memory senseless in the same way.
So there it is (abstract).
Go read Randy (concrete).
--Mitchell Hegman   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One Day

One day you wake feeling as if you are the very door to insight and wisdom.  The next day you are the doormat.  Sometimes, you wake knowing that you will never feel better.  Other times, you wake troubled and must wade through the rest of the day with all manner of real and imaginary weight teetering on your shoulders.

Well...good morning everyone, I am a doormat.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Perspective

As you are eating a steak, do you ever stop and wonder how many whole cows you have eaten in your life?
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Parable in Water

One day, a man chanced upon a crystalline pool of water while walking through the woods.  Though the man was not in need of slaking his thirst, he found the water irresistible.  He stopped at the pool and peered into the water.  The water glistened and revealed great depth.   Overcome with the beauty of the pool, as man might be when examining as a flawless diamond, the man drank deeply.  The water tasted very sweet.  The earth, however, had laced the water with toxins and the man almost immediately fell to the ground and succumbed to the appealing poison.
A man found himself lost in the deep forest one day.  Late in the evening and in need of satisfying his thirst, he chanced upon a rancid pool of murky water.  The scent of sulfur filled the man’s nostrils as he knelt before the shallow pool.  When he dipped his hands into the water, the man discovered that the water warm.  Though repulsed by the pool, the man drank deeply of the foul-tasting water, and then continued walking through the forest.
--Mitchell Hegman 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Waves of Light

Photograph of curtains taken at my house on January 15, 2012.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sea Sounds

The soft ships have put to silken sea.

The soft ships have sailed with thee.

Silken and soft ships are we.

We sail the soft ship sea.

Silken are thee.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 13, 2012

Temple Detail

This is a photograph I took of some details on a temple in Seoul, South Korea on April 11, 2009.  The angles and detail reminded me of MC Escher’s work.  I zoomed-in tight to add to the “tension” of the shot.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 12, 2012


For 100 years, the ghosts of bison have emerged from the man-made lake, where once they ambled down to Prickly Pear Creek to water.
For 80 years, the ghosts of bison have emerged from the rolling waves and plodded around the log cabin that sits near the shores of the lake under the knit of golden willow and ash.
For 60 years, the ghosts of bison have emerged from the water and thundered up through the arroyo that leads to the small plain above the lake.
For 20 years, the ghosts of bison have thundered up from the crashing waves at the lakeshore and filtered through the juniper and bull-pine hills surrounding my house.
For the last two nights, the ghosts of bison have been stampeding up from the creek that is no more and have been crashing against my house.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


When cohabitating with cats you will, sooner or later, begin to comply with their preferred ways of living.  Though cats are neither exuberant nor vocal, they make their points and preferences clear enough with snotty glances and the occasional nudge of approval.  You need to be a certain kind of person to live with cats—which is to say unstable at the very least.  Having lived with cats for a while, I think I have figured them out.  Following are a few kitty-cat characteristics and preferences.  You may affix, at the beginning of each bullet point, the statement: “If cats had their way…”
·         People would drink out of the toilet and they would own the sink.

·         All canned goods would be clear so you would not waste your time opening up stuff that sucks.

·         When a door opens, it would let you in and out at the same time.

·         Birds would have only one wing and fly in low circles.

·         Everything would have strings attached, literally.

·         Cats (if able to talk) would invent new swear words.

·         People would be banned from slapping their thighs can calling: “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.”  You know what?   Makes people look silly the whole coming-when-you-are-called thing is a non-starter.

·         Snow?  Nope.  Not ever.

·         Wind?  We will have none of that either.

·         Ledges shall be constructed between all points of interest.

·         Cardboard boxes shall be placed on the floor for proper inspection before any other action is taken with them.

·         More play and less work.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 9, 2012


Maybe you should just stop what you are doing and go outside to look up at the full moon.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Truth, Unwelcome

The truth, when stripped of all nicety and pretense, is often fairly ugly and sometimes jolting.  I have been considering some truths and they are as follows:
·         I adored my wife and loved her deeply.  That has not stopped.  Never will. The nearly thirty years I spent with her were all beautiful.  Day by day, they were beautiful.

·         For the last two weeks of my wife’s life, I carried her from place to place in my arms, fed her, changed her bedding, tended to her bedsores, bathed her, and I gave her (drop by glistening drop) drugs that made her lovely personality vanish to the inside.

·         I clasped her hand in the deepest pit of her final night.  I held her hand constantly as she slowly and utterly dissolved from this life.

·         For eight months now, I have been coming home to a thick silence in my house that feels like walking underwater.  At times, when I pass the room where she spent the last of her days, I hold my breath for fear I will catch the scent of her hair, which smelled of lavender.

·         The powdery remains of my wife are now held in a cardboard box in the room where she perished.  The cardboard box is barely large enough to hold my two clenched fists.  These last few weeks, I have removed all but two chairs and that box from the room.  The box sits on one of the chairs.  Bit by bit, I want to make the room go away.  Sometimes, I step inside the room and pick up the box, reflecting on what once was.  Sometimes, I pick up the box and cry, wishing only to hear a single word from my wife again.  Any word would do.

·         Here, then, the difficult truth: I do not wish to spend the rest of my days returning to that cardboard box in that room.  All I ask now is that, please, dear family and friends walk with me if I find my way to someplace new.

·         Eventually, the box must go.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black World and White Sky

The pictures I have posted were taken on March 28, 2009 while touring on a boat through Ha Long Bay in the north of Vietnam.   Something near 2000 “islets” surge up from the sea in all manner of otherworldly displays throughout the bay.  The black and white photo was taken from the depths of a cave that formed inside one of the limestone islets.  The cave is filled with lovely formations similar to those found in Lewis and Clark Caverns here in Montana.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 6, 2012


People like an honest answer only when the answer agrees with them.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I read in our paper that the state of Montana recently reached a population of one-million people.  So, first thing I ask myself is: “Do we really need more zeros in Montana?”  And then I think back on all those times when, proudly, I would tell someone unfamiliar with Montana that we are all about the open spaces and sky out here, that we did not even have a million people in our big ol’ state.
No more of that.
I must admit, a million people feels like a funeral to me.
--Mitchell Hegman   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

X, My Dearest

X, my dearest, seems as if my whole life has crashed against a single check-box on my tax withholding form.  I had a choice to make and I have made that choice.
In the year last, I have seen my fill of sadness.  I swallowed death whole.  I gutted the inside of my home and poured pills and clothing and corn flakes and lipstick tubes and so many hundreds of items I shall never use into trash bags and then dragged them away.  I took long walks outside my home and kicked-over stones just to see what creatures I might send scuttling off across the dun soil and through the blue grama grass and under the sage. 
Welcome, all, to the circle of disruption.
But tell me, X, how did I not recognize the coming of this pile-up?  There, near the bottom of the W-4 form, my decision to render.  Two choices: “single” or “married.”  Nowhere did I find a place to check “widowed” or “transitioned” or “saddened.”  Not until I penned my check in the status of “single” did I fully recognize my new place.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Morning, Same as Thirty Years Ago

This morning, same as thirty years ago, and same as ten-thousand years before that, the universe of glowing bodies and luminous clouds has swirled around us on the outside.  We simply need to reach out with our hands…simply extend our hands out to catch the nearest glittering mote that swings nearby.  The trick, then, is to hang on and also let go.
--Mitchell Hegman 

Monday, January 2, 2012


The ancient Mayans believed that bones and sculls were seeds.  They thought that all things that die go back into the earth and are then regenerated again as new life by the earth.  I sometimes wonder if any thoughts beyond that are merely slowing us down.
--Mitchell Hegman  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Cup in the Rice

Eight and one-half months ago, my wife prepared rice for the very last time of her life.  As she descended from this life, I had to microwave and then spoon-feed her last of the rice she steamed that last time.  She passed about two-weeks following the day she prepared the rice. A couple months following her passing, in a hurry to retrieve something from the kitchen cabinets, I opened the wrong cabinet door—the one nearest the refrigerator—a space I typically never used, and there, on the lower slide-out shelf, I found an open Tupperware container with a china teacup half submerged in the mix of brown and white rice within.
Uyen’s final scoop.
After gazing down on the cup for a while, feeling more than a little saddened, I closed the cabinet door again.  In the months since, I have cleaned-out and reorganized all of the cupboards and cabinets in my kitchen save the one in which I found the rice.  I have peered inside a few times, but left the rice and the cup undisturbed.  That very first time I saw the cup, and every time since, I have wondered: “Is the cup half-floating in the rice or is the cup half sinking?”
Today, I opened the cabinet as a way to begin the New Year.
The cup, as of this day, is floating.
--Mitchell Hegman