This is a picture I snapped of the shadow behind a metal shelving unit in my office at work.I snapped the picture to show someone how dramatic a picture can become when you set to shoot without the flash to fill-in shadows.I adjusted the contrast to enhance the shadow a bit.
All day, the sky remained closed and gray.A chill rain fell on the noon hour.I drove to Butte and back again through a mix of snow and rain.The mountains opened and closed around me.After work, I drove back home in rain that gradually swung into slanting flurries of snow.
Eventually, I came upon the place in the road where, last week, a car collided with a mule deer.This week, the ravens and magpies have rent open the rib cage of the deer carcass still flung there alongside the road.As I drove by, I saw ravens feeding inside the red and snow ribcage.Just last week that deer jumped the nearby fence.
This week, scavengers are jumping in and out of the deer’s open belly.
The truth is finicky.The truth, on occasion, might be downright meaningless without some form of appropriate context.I can easily illustrate this with a simple example.
Imagine that I walk into a classroom filled with students who are very nervous about an exam they are about to take.For the sake of argument, we will say the exam is about trigonometry and the questions are multiple-choice.As I walk up to the whiteboard in the front of the classroom I say:“Okay, to ease your minds a bit, I have decided to give you the answer for several of the questions on this exam.”
Naturally, the students will find a bit of relief in this.They watch quite intently as I find a black marker and then write “d” on the board.“There you go,” I announce.I leave the room again.
If more than one question should have “d” marked for the correct response, I have been completely truthful.I might even go so far as to say that I was not deceptive.But where is the value in this truth?
I took this photograph several years ago on my way into Helena from my country home.The green buildings on the left attracted my attention initially.Winter landscapes often take on otherworldly aspects to such a degree that they exclude human presence.This photograph is centered on human presence in the winter.
High clouds are dancing casually between the uplifted moon and the sprinkling of lights across the valley floor.From my bay window I watch the clouds cross the face of the moon, wondering why I always find myself standing at the bay window, alone, watching clouds.
Curious about what I might learn about Monday, I conducted an internet search using only “Monday” as the key in my search engine.Here is the important thing I discovered: Monday is the day between Sunday and Tuesday.
Not until this morning when—for the umpteenth time this week, just like every week preceding—I reached for a paper towel to dab some coffee from my kitchen counter after filling my cup, did I finally recognize the conspiracy we have faced as consumers.I am now convinced that the manufacturers of coffee makers for home use have been receiving payoffs from the manufacturers of paper towels.
Goes like this.
The people making the coffee makers purposefully mal-design the carafe so that no matter how you try to pour coffee into your cup, some of the coffee will escape and dribble all over the place.I don’t care how fast, slow, or cautiously you try to pour—you are certain to make a mess.To maintain the poor carafe design in some form of perpetuity (and bolster sales of paper towels) the people making the towels provide kickbacks to the folks producing the coffee makers.
Somewhere amid all of this science, nesting there in a thatch of numbers, surrounded by the immutable laws governing blood and the roving stars and the very sound of a single stone dropped in water, dies a pretty pink bird thought surely to survive a broken spirit.
While 150 moons presently loiter around at various corners of our solar system, most of them beg for little or no attention.Jupiter, the largest planet in our system, has trapped over 60 of these moons in her gravitational shell.Moons orbit the giant planet in a variety of paths that weave a somewhat nonsensical basket in the space surrounding.And while these moons might impose a great deal of influence on one another as they swish about, they little affect the great planet acting as their benefactor.The largest moon orbiting Jupiter is Lo and is the most volcanically active body in our solar system.The gravitational forces exerted by Jupiter are such that 300 foot “tides” are pulled on the solid surface of Lo.Another moon, Europa, is covered with watery oceans and is thought to provide great potential for simple forms of life.And, no, I am not making reference to Jersey Shores again in the last sentence I wrote.Some of the moons held in orbit around Jupiter are “provisional” in status, which means we have not fully interpreted their orbits and their importance in the scheme of things.
And so, Jupiter spins away, seemingly oblivious of her flock of stony and gaseous moons.
Our Moon, contrarily, is accountable for a host of mostly fortuitous Earthly behaviors.The gravitational dance into which we have engaged with our Moon is the very reason we have 4 stable seasons.The Moon, as if a mother with open hands against the cheeks of a child’s face and holding the child’s head back, holds our planet tilted back on its axis, allowing us spring, summer, fall, and winter.These same gravitational forces pull our ocean tides.In some places the Moon will wrench back the oceans as much as 50 feet.
Moonlight brightens our nights.What decent love song is complete without the Moon?By interesting coincidence, our Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun and, at the same time, the sun is 400 times more distant than the Moon, which makes them appear the same size as we observe them from our lawnchairs and verandas here on Earth.
The Moon is a mere 234,000 miles distant, which easily puts it within the driving range of an automobile.Something less than 6 months of steady driving would get you there, unless you routed through Los Angeles, in which case you might need to allow for heavy traffic.Sadly, there is not much to do on the Moon at this point.The few folks, who have visited the Moon to this date, have done little more than collect a few rocks.
The rocks were not all that pretty, either.
The Moon is entirely without an atmosphere which creates wild temperature fluctuations that can range from 270 degrees F where sunlight feeds energy into objects down to -240 degrees below in the darkness.Without an atmosphere, any hope of populating the moon will rest upon colonies encapsulated in protective chambers.Recent discoveries of water in deep craters and at the Moon’s north pole suggest that some basics for life may be provided.Maybe someday, the Moon.
Because the Moon is phase locked with the Earth, we see only one face of the sphere.We never see the back side of the Moon, which make ironic the statement that someone pulling down their britches and wagging their backside ismooning you.
But there she is: our Moon.Pretty as ever.Pure silver on a wintery night.Everywhere we look at night, we see the pewter reflection of the Moon melting into the surface of anything willing to hold it.But as certainly as dreams fade when we come awake, the Moon gradually draws away from us, receding at a rate of about 1½ inch per year, even as we try to hold her.