Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Out West

The morning sun tapped the purple domestic flowers alongside my house ever so gently and the lake below flickered where fish kissed the surface.  I have forgotten the name of those flowers, but I remember that the starts were a gift from a dear friend.  She, as so many others, has gone beyond the reach of this sun.  
You told me that something inside you understood the English language even as a small child when you spoke Tagalog and Spanish.   I watched something wash over you as we drove the Rocky Mountain Front.  “I know this place,” you said brightly.  “Though I have never been here…I have been here before.”
You asked me to pull over so you might photograph a pair of dark horses on a green pasture at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  Cloud shadows slowly roved across the grass as we stood there.  The scent of grass ascended all around us.
You told me that the same thing that made you understand English as a little girl made you understand the American West.  
Just this week the birthdays of our departed spouses passed.  Remember how we clicked our glasses of water together over trout and pearled barley and toasted them?  Never to diminish, that, no matter where the roads lead.
Today, the sun carried chickadees into the pines and filled the distant mountains with a deep blue color that might be an ocean in another place. 
But for today we are here.  Here, under this blue sky. 
Out West.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 29, 2012

Geyser Basin

Ariel and I drove through Yellowstone Park yesterday.  We entered at Gardener in the morning and exited at West Yellowstone late in the evening.
I snapped dozens upon dozens of photographs, capturing all of the stock images: bison giving themselves a dust bath, steam vents, panoramic shots of open parks with snowcapped mountain surrounds, and a crooked aquamarine river convulsing through a volcanic gorge.  I happily joined the human flocks alongside the road (with folks from Great Britain and Illinois, and the proverbial Japanese male tourist with two long-lensed cameras in hand) whenever a group assembled around some hapless bear or bison.  At West Thumb, Ariel and I got swept up into a colorful stream of Chinese tourists who came pouring from a coach and enthusiastically drifted down along the boardwalks of Geyser Basin along the shores of Yellowstone Lake.  Caught in this wave of floppy hats and black hair, we were carried along until we managed to spin free at the first junction in the walk.
There, at Geyser Basin, I found myself tightening down on my camera focus.  The small scenes and the play of patterns and colors created otherworldly visions.  The photos posted today are easily my most favored from the day.   Both are from Geyser Basin.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things to do with Ariel While She is in Montana

·         Email each other while Ariel sits in my kitchen and I sit in my living room.
·         Eat Beef
·         Go on a wildflower hike and give our own names for flowers.  Examples: arnica will become yellowees and paintbrush might be rocket flares.
·         Fish a stream that has blue and red rocks lining its bottom.
·         Just sit and listen to Ariel talk.
·         Watch Ariel dance with little kids in a city park.
·         Watch the sun deposit itself into the Rocky Mountains like a slow, red coin.
·         Gather new sage tips and bundle them with fine string.
·         Photograph an aspen grove in the slant of morning light.
·         Stand in the aspen grove as a light breeze softs through and watch the leaves spin like river fishing lures.
·         Dance with Ariel on an empty prairie.
·         Cross the Missouri River under a high sun.
·         Witness a herd of elk as they draw up though a green mountainside park.
·         And then some.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Corral Fire

Our corner of the Rocky Mountains is one shaped by wildfires.  Fires are expected, especially in the heat of summer.  The photos posted today are from the Corral Fire.  I took the photographs on June 25 on my way home from Helena.
The fire, spurred by strong winds, raced through the timbered Scratchgravel Hills and initially consumed over 700 acres in about 7 hours.  Yesterday, a new surge of brisk winds kicked the fire off into a new direction.  The fire grew to about 1,900 acres.  At one point, the fire jumped one of the main roads in the Helena Valley and tried to reach into several subdivisions. 

At this point, at least 4 homes have been lost.  The fire originated at a slash pile where a homeowner had burned beetle-kill pine 3 days previous.  The unusually high winds brought the fire back to life and pushed flames into the dry hills.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Common practice in modern marriage is for the husband to be present when his wife is giving birth.  I am of the theory, though, that it is far more important for the husband to be present when she gets pregnant.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 25, 2012

Haystack Butte

Surging conspicuously against the sky and the shortgrass escarpments along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains near Augusta, Montana, Haystack Butte draws your attention from dozens of miles away as you approach form any direction.  Encircled by vast ranch holdings, the area around Haystack Butte remains undeveloped and wild.  Today I have posted two photos I snapped of Haystack yesterday as a gathering of clouds lifted from overnighting all along the Front.  
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lake McDonald

This is Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana.  For the whole of yesterday, the peaks were lost to the clouds.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Absurdity has either four legs and an udder filled with milk or a an empty bank account and a half-dozen maxed credit cards.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 22, 2012

Snow on Floppy Pine Grass

I snapped this photograph a couple of weeks ago atop Flesher Pass following a spring storm that started as rain but turned to snow late in the night.  I liked how the snow turned the grass into patterns.  I have adjusted the contrast to a ridiculous point.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thanks is a Good Word

Thanks is a dinner party where women wear strapless dresses and men wear slacks and lively shirts.

Thanks runs down the side of the glass, glistening and cool.

Thanks grows wild in cornfields and is cultivated in street-side windowboxes.

Thanks, on profile, looks like a steam locomotive. 

Thanks Googled will yield

Thanks smells like lilacs, but bigger.

Thanks feels like the first time you rode a bike without falling.

Thanks is a good word.

Thanks for listening.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Have Decided

And, yes, I have decided that I am a cat.
I do not wish to be around most people.
The bluebirds flashing up against my windows fascinate me.
I am a cat.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

List #8

1.      Open your eyes
2.      Hang on
3.      Close your eyes
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 18, 2012


I suppose that other uses exist for the concept we call “human,” but from what I have witnessed generating chaos and busting up stuff seem to be the main things.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Who Are We?

When we drive by, we look for junk in the yard.  When we walk in, we find the slightly outdated furniture, the messy desk, and the bad haircut.  When someone speaks, we note the misspent word or a poor turn of phrase.
Who are we?
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Any fool on the street can give you a bad haircut, but it requires a French designer to do it on purpose and charge a bunch of money in the process.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wrong Phone

I woke late in the night to the jarring sound of the wrong phone ringing.  My land line clamoring metallically in this singing cellphone world of ours.
Always trouble when that phone rings late at night. 
I sprang from my bed, raced to the kitchen, and picked-up the handset.  “Hello,” I blurted.
“Vietnam calling,” a heavily accented male voice responded.  “Tung.  You remember me?  We met at Uyen’s brother’s house.  I am calling to say that Uyen’s sister has died.”
Bad.  Very bad.
My wife gone first…now her older sister.
I did not know Uyen’s sister, really.  I knew her mostly from the occasional wandering letter she sent Uyen from home.  Uyen translated the lovely Vietnamese cursive for me—each letter always punctuated at the end with the simple phrase: “Please send more money.”
I enjoyed sending the money.
I met Uyen’s sister in person on only two occasions in 2009.  Tiny and frail, she clung to my arm speaking words I could not understand.  She told Uyen that I was handsome.
“She is crazy,” everyone capable of speaking English told me.
At one time she had been stunningly beautiful.  Absolutely, stunning.
I did not know her.  But I know death all too well.  And I knew how Uyen would feel.
After the phone call, I wobbled out and sat on the sofa in the dark, sobbing.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One Bunny, Two Observers

A very tiny bunny rabbit—perhaps the size of my fist—tried to jump into my house from outside.   The whole “jumping in” thing did not work out terribly well because the bunny was trying to jump through the glass door.
Repeatedly, the bunny attempted to jump inside.
Bonk, Bonk, Bonk.  No getting in.
Splash, my big, dumber (but loving) cat ran to the door and stared out at the bunny.  I walked over to the door and peered down.
Yep, one tiny bunny.
--Mitchell Hegman
Photo by K Fields

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


At the end of a long road in open country with no fences…
At the end of a long drive on gravel roads where dust rolls out from behind your car…
At the end of a long dry road with no name, blackbirds fly up out of the brown grass and become dark clouds bringing rain.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Sometimes, I just sit here on my sofa convinced that I am surrounded by a whole nation of dopey people who like stupid sports and vote for all the wrong people.  Then, I realize that I am only half-correct in my thinking.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 11, 2012

Complementary Colors

Part I    
The most vibrant color combinations are those of complementary colors.  Red and green.  Violet and yellow.  These colors are found on the opposite side of the color wheel.  Complementary colors attract attention and are often used in advertising.  When mixed together, complementary colors will produce neutrals: grey, white, or black.  If you stare at  a single color for more than a few seconds, as example blue, and then stare at a white surface, the complementary color (yellow in this case) will appear.
Part II
Imagine you are a color.
What color might you prefer?
Part III
Imagine that you and your lover are not bodies come together; you are a celebration of color.
You are red and green and yellow.
Dancing in a darkened room, you are blue.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Stormfronts will cross the Rocky Mountains, but only do so fitfully.  The clouds tend to pile-up and boil atop the Continental Divide.  Then, almost as if the bellies of the clouds have been torn open by the mountains, they fall over the nearby valleys spilling out snow and rain.
Living, as I do, in a valley only a few miles east of the Continental Divide, I have a front row seat on storm crossings.  Today, I have posted photos I took of an evening storm I caught while driving into Helena.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The hand that knows the gunstock and trigger also knows the feather duster and the infant child.
The sky that hoists both bluebird and soft cloud might as easily crush a white oak.
The water that caresses ducklings at the edge of a warm pond will, when frozen, gradually shatter the highest mountain.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 8, 2012


Most of us are capable of sticking one finger in an ear, squeezing a tube of toothpaste in the other hand, and screaming out at the top of lungs: “I intend to run for office!”  But that does not mean we should do it.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Alice Creek

Photographs taken on June 6, 2012 along Alice Creek Road in Montana’s Upper Blackfoot Valley.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Survey Results

Recent surveys reveal that women who enter online chat rooms or dating sites seeking possible dates are fearful of encountering and meeting serial killers.  Men, ever under-thinking, fear meeting someone fat.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Changes

Again, I have been thinking that I would like to make a few changes to this world. 
Just a few minor alterations.
For starters, I would prefer that when autumn arrives, the orange and red leaves fall up when the wind releases them from the trees.  Green and brown leaves may tumble on the ground and must do so for a minimum of thirty feet.  Ocean waves shall no longer collapse into foam upon reaching the shore; instead, they shall splash up into the air and immediately transform into gray and white mares that gallop over the green hills beyond.  And far above, people that are happy to be alive will climb translucent mountains.  They will climb and climb and climb as the orange and yellow leaves fall up all around them and the whitest mares sprint by.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 4, 2012

Personality Test

From the answers listed below, choose the one you feel best describes the term “over-achiever.”
1.      Adding an additional (higher) top button on a winter coat.
2.      Training your housecat to run the calculator when you are paying bills.
3.      Sorting out the whole potato chips from the broken ones when you open a new bag.
4.      Piecing-together the broken chips from a bag of potato chips before eating them.
5.      Opening the door when nobody knocks and waiting there until someone happens to arrive.
6.      Installing shoelaces on a pair of slippers.
7.      Answering this question.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I have posted two pictures from my trip to the Upper Blackfoot Valley yesterday.  The wildflowers are just now beginning to exhibit there, often standing out like frozen pyrotechnic displays in the open spaces and along the understory of the mountain forests.
Here, I have posted a pair of bitterroot, Montana’s state flower, and an Indian paintbrush.

The bitterroot is spectacularly drought resistant and will, if fact, perish in wet climates.  A specimen of bitterroot collected here in Montana, dried, and carried back East by Meriwether Lewis during the Corps of Discovery exploration of the Louisiana Purchase actually came back life when watered many months later.
Indian paintbrush plants, on the other hand, are finicky and specialized.  They are a semi-parasitic annual and must tap into the roots of a host plant to assure survival.  Hummingbirds are highly attracted to paintbrush.  The hummingbirds are especially attracted to red.  On many occasions, I have had hummingbirds fly up and hover around my face when I was wearing a red cap in an area where the paintbrush is prolific.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weak Bonding

Listen, my imperfect flower, I have concluded that the answer to us is in the air and in the stones at our feet and in the water that laps at the edges of our world.  The answer to how we survive together is there.  And our answer is this: We must bond together weakly.
Consider, first, the stone nearest your feet.  That stone, as all others like it, is comprised of atoms that cannot live alone in this rough-and-tumble universe of ours.  Within the stone are atoms from different elements.   Living alone, the atoms are unstable and irritable as feral cats.  The electrons in their outer shells swish about recklessly and will readily jump ship, so to speak, at the first opportunity.  A chance meeting of two such unstable elements can be disastrous.  As example, if a sodium atom happens to come into contact with water, the sodium atom catches on fire.
Not a positive outcome.
To avoid a world filled with constant spot-fires, the frenzied atoms of different elements have found ways to bond together and overcome all of this dangerous instability.  In the stone, the atoms have created ionic bonds.  In ionic bonds, the atom from one unstable element will actually seize an electron from another element.  In this way, both elements lock together and become stable in the form of an electrically charged molecule.  The molecules then develop into floor tiles and tooth brushes and cell phone parts.  
Well, not quite that easy.  A certain amount of manipulation and Chinese manufacturing is likely required.
These ionic bonds are fantastically strong.  If you doubt that, try popping a rock into your mouth to see if you can chew it to bits.  The downside to such strong bonds, however, is that they are inflexible.  Smack two stones together and one or the other will likely break into pieces. 
But there is another type of bonding, my dear, which might be a superior model: covalent bonding.
Weak bonding.
In covalent bonding the atoms of two unstable elements will generously share the outer (valence) electrons of their outer orbital shells.  No seizing and taking here—this is more like the two atoms are holding hands.  This is all cooperation and sharing.  The end result of weak bonding is relative softness and flexibility.   The water all around you and gases are formed by means of covalent bonds.  Metals, which are strong and flexible at once, are also formed by weak bonding. 
Would we be wrong to strive for a weak bond, to be like gold or silver?
Each element always retaining a singular identity, but joining together—embracing—to become a new whole of another sort.
--Mitchell Hegman 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Full-Time Worker

My mistake occurred to me as I sat in my office, all alone, watching the sunrise tie-dying the mountains orange and red and yellow. 
My mistake?
I am a full-time worker in a part-time working world.
--Mitchell Hegman