Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bubbles and Kites

Yesterday was bubbles and kites day at my house.  My sister, brother-in-law, grand-nieces, and their grandmother all came out to take advantage of the nice weather.  We flew kites for the early part of the afternoon and then walked down to the lake so that the girls could blow bubbles.
Here are some of the pictures that I snapped. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ugly Tall People

Having been an “un-tall” person for my whole life, I understand all that goes with that.   For example, I need a ladder when changing bulbs in the various light sources around my house.  I don’t know if the top of my refrigerator is dusty.  I cannot dunk a basketball.  My Christmas tree does not have an angel on top.
I have noticed, of course, that tall people stand-out in crowds.  An example of that is a really tall young man who works at the checkout line in one of our local grocery stores.  He catches my attention right away if he is working on the day I go shopping.  He stands out like a stalk of corn in a row of carrots.  I am guessing that he has compiled a list of advantages that he can attribute to his height.  Vanishing in a crowd is not one of them.
I suppose he has an angel on his Christmas tree.
But I have also noted this about tall people: ugly tall people are (because of their physical prominence) at least twenty percent uglier than standard-issue ugly people.  
We have that going for us.  
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 29, 2013

Out There

The photograph I posted today was taken last July during a late evening rain-shower.  To capture the image, I simply stepped out my back door and pointed my camera toward the lake below.  I did not alter the colors with my computer.    

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Letter to X

Dear X,
I am sorry about the great ribbon of time between this letter and the last.  I have been busy with my work-life (as I once knew it) ending.  I would rather not explain that right now.  But I do need to tell you about the sun.
The sun, dear X, has found a new place just above me. 
Yesterday afternoon I went out to lay supine on the concrete of my drive so that the sunlight could press against me.  Ants doodled all around the concrete near me and a new kind of warm soaked right to my bones.  I heard a single robin “tuk-tuking” in the distance.
For a while, X, I had forgotten to be alive. 
After soaking in the sun for a while I stood up and then jumped a few times.  I did not have a reason to jump.  And I did not count how many times I jumped.
I just jumped because I was alive.
What more is there than that?
Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Wind Blows a Little

Lake Elwell, more commonly known as Tiber Reservoir, was originally formed in 1969 by the final construction of a dam across the Marias River in Northern Montana.  The reservoir is located a little below Highway 2 where the highway crosses the Great Northern Plains just before arriving at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and slightly below the Canadian border. People in Montana refer to the area along the highway as the Hi-Line.
The wind blows a little along the Hi-Line.
More on that later.
Somewhere in the vicinity of early spring 1981, I went on a fishing trip to Lake Elwell with some friends.  The lake is known for decent trout, walleye, and northern pike fishing.   We stayed for two nights on that excursion—camping in a grassy swale along the shore of the lake.  Part of our fishing scheme was setting out “jugs” for northern pike.  Essentially, the jugs—made from plastic milk jugs—are tied to set-lines.  The northern pike, if they take the bait connected to the lines, will drag the jugs around the lake.  Often they will drag the jugs into the rushes along the shore.  If you set a string of jugs, the idea is to boat around and check on them occasionally.  If a jug is roving around in the water, you have a northern to pull onboard.
On the afternoon of the second day, the wind started in.  We were standing along the shore trying our luck fishing for walleye with crank-baits and didn’t pay much attention to the gusts at first.  But as the waves began to pile-up at our feet and the wind nudged us harder, we took note.  At some point, Arnold (the owner of the small outboard fishing boat we were using) said the equivalent of “uh-oh,” though in a slightly more colorful way.  He had noticed that the white-capping waves and wind gusts were pushing our jugs toward a somewhat rocky and shallow shoreline.
“We need to get those jugs now,” he said, looking (for whatever reason) at me and not the other two fishermen with us.  “If they get to that shore we will never get them.”
Arnold and I scrambled together some gear and climbed into his small aluminum fishing boat.  Both of us strapped on our life preservers.  I tell you seriously, the next fifteen or so minutes were among the most terrifying of my life—punctuated by one of the funniest moments ever.
By the time we got in the water, the waves were big enough to require mountaineering skills.  I sat in the bow.  Arnold commanded the boat from the back.  Bucking the whitecaps, Arnold splashed around the lake and swung me to within arm’s reach of our jugs so that I could snatch them from the waves.  Whitecap after whitecap pounded at us.  Water splashed up against my chest and started to fill the bottom of the boat very quickly.  As we jostled from one jug to the next, I would scoop water from the bottom of boat with a gallon coffee can.  I kept looking at the steady shoreline, wondering what in the hell I was doing out there the convulsing lake.
By the time we neared the farthest jug it had drifted dangerously near the rocky shore.
“We are gonna have to grab that last one and then turn sideways with the waves to get that one,” Arnold suggested.  “That might be it for us.  We might end up swimming”
I nodded.
As we started to buck waves, heading for the final jug, Arnold began to kick a few things into order at his feet.   He stared at me—half-pointing.  I could tell he wanted me to do something, but the words were failing him.  He was getting frustrated.  Finally, he blurted out: “Can’t you hear what I’m thinking!”
In spite of the waves and danger, we both burst out laughing.
As I recall it, we had to make two passes at the last jug before I managed to grab it.  But we did grab it.  And then we pushed straight against the wind and the waves all the way back to our camp.
I have posted a couple of photographs from that trip.

Me with a northern pike.

Kevin at my car above the lake.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What I Thought I Saw versus What I Actually Saw

A plumber I know calls them “optical conclusions.”  They are not an optical illusion created by exploiting sensory overload, but rather a kind of half-wit misinterpretation of what are really very normal visual inputs.
In the case of my plumber friend, he considered any of his piping that I saw as crooked an optical conclusion.
Well, I did not think so.  My torpedo level also thought his stuff was out-of-whack.
But yesterday I did see something weird. Looking out across a field I saw a white cat walking backward through some tall grass.  “Wow,” I thought, “that is unusual.  Like Michael Jackson moonwalking!” I did not realize that I was witnessing and optical conclusion until the tail lifted its head and the whole thing became a snow goose walking forward.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 25, 2013

Waves of Morning Light

Posted today is an image from a series of photographs I snapped of morning light playing with the curtains on a south-facing window in my spare bedroom.  I recall posting another photograph from this series some time ago.  I enjoy how the morning and evening slants of light paint abstract images across the most mundane things.

--Mitchell Hegman    

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Timely Advice

If you still use an old-fashioned clock that uses hands to tell the time and late at night, when you look to see the time, you find the small hand pointing to the 1 or 2 and the big hand flops over and starts to feel-you-up it is likely time to purchase a digital clock.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My friend, Kevin, is an Alien

My friend, Kevin, is an alien.  Well, his eyes are alien-looking at the very least.  Kevin recently underwent procedures to remove cataracts from his eyes.  At the same time, he had corrective lenses implanted in them.  The new lenses are like mini highway reflectors.  In certain light his eyes look totally alien.
Kevin stopped by my place last night for a visit.  A visit, by way of explanation (through bullet points) entails the following:

--Kevin drinks a lot of Red Stripe, Jamaican Style Lager beer.
--I drink a small glass of Balvenie Scotch followed by a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
--We try to use a minimum of one curse word per sentence. Often, a sentence will consist of a single curse word.
--One or both of us will spill or break something. 
--We say something nice about women.
--We listen to bluegrass, rock and roll, and outlaw country.
--Kevin teases 20 or 40 pounds of cat, depending on his mood.
--Kevin drinks a lot more Red Stripe, Jamaican Style Lager beer.
Last night turned out a bit different.  Oh sure, we did all of the same stuff.  But Kevin’s eyes distracted me and threw me off my normal cursing mode just a little.   On occasion, if he turned his face to certain angles, his alien eyes made him look like a walleye fish.  “Those are some weird eyes, dude,” I kept telling him.
The photo I took of Kevin’s eyes does not really fully capture the walleye-effect.  But by the time I decided to take a picture, one of us was pretty deep into the Red Stripe and the light sources were fading.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 22, 2013

Love: Without an Expiration Date

While I stood chatting with an electrical contractor friend of mine today, he happened to get a call on his cell.   I excused myself for a moment when he identified the call as originating from his wife.  They did not talk for long.  As he ended the phone conversation, my friend expressed love for his wife.
He meant it.
I have known this man since high school.  Even then, he was dating the woman who is now his wife.  Smiling, I asked: “How long have you been married?”
“Thirty-seven years.”
“That’s nice.  You know, I read someplace just recently that true love lasts only three years.”   I shook my head.  “But I don’t believe that.”
“It is not true,” he said.  “Maybe infatuation lasts only three years.  But it takes three years to deeply understand the person you are with, I think.”
I agreed with him. 
As I approach within a stone-throw of the two year mark of losing my wife to cancer, I have encountered some of my most difficult hours.  Just this morning, thoughts of her progression down—from wobbling around using a cane to using a walker to me having to carry her from place to place—delivered me to tears.  I sat on my floor and sobbed for a while.
We were together for nearly thirty years.  She has been gone for nearly two.
I am not yet out of love for her.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hay, Not Just to Eat

Mule deer are jumpers at heart.  Even a yearling can clear a four or five foot fence with little effort.  When feeling threatened or even a little curious, mule deer will often bound to the top of the nearest point of elevation and look around. 
One evening, on my way home from Helena, I drove by a stack of hay bales and found the scene I captured in the photograph posted below.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Name Has Been Given

A name has been given to a life riddled with missteps and mistakes.
We call it “perfectly normal.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nine Practical Questions

·         How many wrong turns must you take before asking directions?
·         If you assembled a swing-set and discovered on completion that you neglected to use a handful of bolts…would you allow your children to use the set?  Would you allow your neighbors to use it?
·         Do you see a difference between “a race to the end” and “racing to the end?”
·         How many running chain saws are you willing to attempt juggling?
·         Have you every kissed someone angrily?  If yes…why did you do so?
·         When did you first understand that you were mortal?
·         Do you consider patronizing behavior merely annoying or is it ugly?
·         For what reasons have you intentionally lost board games or sporting events?
·         Are you opposed to a financial restructuring of your life?
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 18, 2013

The House of the Rising Sun

I first heard The House of the Rising Sun as performed by Eric Burdon and the Animals in 1964.  I heard the song while riding in a car with both of my parents and three of my four sisters.  I remember staring at the radio—embedded in a chrome grill within the dash of the car—amazed by the power of the song radiating from there.  Hooked by the first three notes and then grasped by the soulful voice of Eric Burdon, the song froze me as I listened from the back seat of that car.  I was eight years old at that time.  And from that day on I have considered the song may favorite.
In the time since that day, I have had other songs stop me cold like that—freeze me with their power and beauty.  I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard them.  As example, while driving down Eleventh Avenue in Helena one day in 1979, I heard Sting screeching the opening of the song Roxanne.  Within a block of first hearing that, I pulled my car off into a parking lot and listened until the song ended.  The song Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics woke me one morning on my radio alarm.  Years later, while driving to work in the deep blue of predawn, I heard an obscure but haunting song performed by a relatively unknown Native American artist.  That song, Glitter Nights, so haunted me, I spent four years seeking the song until I finally found the name of the artist and the song and then located a CD with the song included.
At this stage of my life—with nearly fifty more years of musical inputs behind me—the chances of me abandoning The House of the Rising Sun song as my favorite seem unlikely.  Even within the last year I had one occasion when hearing the song on my truck’s radio forced me to pull over to the side of the road so I could close my eyes and listen.
What is the power in that song?
Absolutely everything.
Every word and every note strikes at the perfect time and finds the perfect emotion.
A funny thing, all of that.  The song is of uncertain origins.  The first recorded versions were captured in the 1930’s by artists who performed in the Appalachian Folk Music movement.  Some indications suggest that the song is rooted to an 18th century English Ballad.  Nobody has been given credit for writing the song.
That song belongs to the universe.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Point of Origin

This time of year, the ranchers in our valley set fire to their empty irrigation ditches and pastures.  The fires clear-away last year’s dead grasses and weeds and provide something of an empty slate for the new season.  According to a recent Natural Resources and Conservation Service study published on their Montana website, burning fields has the short-term benefit of “invigorating” the soils.  Burning the dead vegetation provides a small burst of nitrogen availability.  Burning may also be effective in clearing sagebrush and certain shallow-rooting and invasive weeds and grasses.  Some insects (considered pests in terms of agriculture) may be reduced.
In the long-term, however, the study reveals a net reduction in soil health if burning is used to clear fields year after year.  Overall, nitrogen levels in the soil are reduced.  Microbes beneficial for converting decaying matter into plant nutrients decline to lower levels.
Moderation—as always—seems the best answer.
Inspired by the burning I witnessed as I drove around our valley this week, I set fire to a single (and long-dead) rabbitbrush in my yard yesterday.  Before I touched fire to the bush, it stood waist high.  After only five minutes engulfed in a brilliant and wind-swayed pyramid of flame, the bush was reduced to a stark black and mostly abstract patch in my native yard.  Today I Have posted a picture of a healthy rabbitbrush and the result of my burning.    

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 16, 2013

First Bluebird Sighting

Since the early 1990s, I have been documenting in my journals the date on which I see my first bluebird of the season.  I live in prime bluebird habitat.  The arrival of bluebirds is the surest signal that spring is here.
Yesterday, I spotted my first bluebird of the season.  Actually, I saw a male and a female dancing around a birdhouse I have nailed to a post in my yard.  After I watched the birds for a bit, I grabbed a pile of my handwritten journals and found the dates of my first bluebird sightings.  Below is a list of those dates along with part of my comment from each of those journal entries:

March 16, 2003: “Seven in the sagebrush.  Two circling my birdhouse.”
March 13, 2004: “Six bluebirds cast like electric sparks against fields of snow.”
March 9, 2005: “First bluebird of the year!”
March 5, 2006: “A vivid blue splash against the frost-sided country.”
March 19, 2007: “A single bluebird pirouetting in the open air.”
March 27, 2008: “Blue as hour of morning light in the high mountains.”
March 11, 2009: “Against the blue and white mountains.”
March 17, 2010: “A blue chip wind-driven against honey-colored grass.”
March 18, 2011: “A pair romancing at my birdhouse.”
March 16, 2012: Posted on this blogsite.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 15, 2013

Front Door

I stepped outside yesterday evening and allowed the warm coming-of-spring breeze lift my shirt and tickle my arms.  The air smelled of pine and old grass. 
I watched one of my cats slowly walk out against the tawny expanse of prairie.
I counted the low clouds: seven.
No bird sounds.  No deer.
When I turned to go back inside, I realized that I had left the door open…the house so very quiet.  Two years ago, I might have walked back inside and found my sweet wife sitting in that chair I never learned to like (but have saved and not sat in since her passing). 
I entered the empty house and allowed the door to remain open for another hour.
--Mitchell Hegman  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

50/50 (Savants versus Serial Killers)

An estimated 50 savants are thought to populate our planet at this time.   Savant syndrome is a mental condition where those afflicted have extremely limited (autistic) mental capacity and low social function with the exception of one seemingly unearthly mental capacity or skill.  Some savants, as example, cannot tie their own shoes but can calculate any square root in their head in milliseconds.   Some can recall exact times and dates for events going back thousands of years.  Perhaps you recall the movie Rain Man inspired by life of a savant named Kim Peek.
Though nearly all savants sacrifice communication skills and normal levels of function to gain the unfathomable abilities to play piano or calculate or paint, one young savant from Britain seems entirely normal.  Daniel Tammet is called a high-functioning savant.  His extraordinary abilities are in a vast memory and, in particular, math and language acquisition.   He has shown the ability to speak, read, and fully understand almost any language in one week.  He is capable of calculations that are beyond the ability of most hand-held calculators.  In one demonstration, he sat down and recalled—without error—the first 20,000 numbers of Pi.  This feat took him over five hours.  Tammet claims to “see and sense” numbers in his mind more than “think” them.  Often, the numbers are a specific shape or texture in his mind.   He claims that the number nine is very large and intimidating.  The skyscrapers in New York City make him feel the same way as the number nine.  Tammet describes the number 333 as attractive and the number 289 as especially ugly.
At the same time that the world is home to these estimated 50 savants, here in the United States an estimated 50 serial killers are thought to be “at work.”  Serial killers are usually quite brilliant, though not to the elevation of a savant.   The emergence of serial killers often seems to be founded on environmental conditions—most have experienced abuse and an odd relationship with their mother.  The critical difference between savants and serial killers is in their ability to function in normal society.  Though sociopathic and driven to kill without remorse, most serial killers fake normalcy to such a degree they are often respected by peers and acquaintances.  Ted Bundy, in spite of murdering at least 30 women (and even keeping the severed heads of some victims for a time as mementos), was quite handsome and developed a charming false surface that fooled virtually everyone.  Bundy even maintained a somewhat stormy relationship with a woman that lasted more than five years.  For a while he was an active member of the Republican Party in Washington State.
So here we have 50/50.  Mis-wired, the human brain can do marvelous or reckless things.  I am sometimes thankful for ending up with my own “wired to minimum Code standards” brain—one that has on occasion directed me to place my cell-phone in the freezer and then set the loaf of bread on the counter.
I am happy and mostly harmless.       
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eyes Closed

When I close my eyes, the sound of a dog barking becomes a soft rubber ball in the palm of my hand.  When I roll my right arm, my wife is alive in our kitchen and delicately chopping coriander against her bamboo cutting board.  If I keep my eyes closed, everything around me—lamps, dressers, the edge of doors—everything is round and smooth.
My left arm is an infant slumbering beside me.
When I close my eyes, the nightsky is tourmaline and the stars are brilliant inclusions.  
But a little deeper inside me is the fading roll of a guitar, the sensation of a breast against my shoulder, and a single river stone pressed cool against my left foot.  And these are immortal.
--Mitchell Hegman


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

PT Cruiser

One day, a few summers back, my brother-in-law drove his family all the way up to my house in Montana (from Las Vegas) in his PT Cruiser.  I was pretty excited when they finally turned into my drive.  Naturally, I rushed out there to greet everyone and snap a picture of the automobile’s taillight.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 11, 2013

It’s Christmas When the Coloring Book Says So

Yesterday, my nephew’s wife, Natalya gave me an envelope with “UNCL MITCH” scrawled across the face.  When I opened the envelope I found a picture of Santa Claus that her little girl, Margo, had colored for me. 
You know what?  As far as I am concerned it is Christmas again.
I posted Santa on my refrigerator.
Merry Christmas Everyone! 
From me and Margo.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Explosive Sex Acts in Mid-Air

Honey bees make love in mid-air.  Please dispel any notion that the act is romantic.  First off, a whole mob of drones (boy bees) chase after the lone queen bee in the mating ritual.  The drones are considered second-class citizens in the colony and those that survive the mating ritual will eventually be kicked out of the hive. In the frenzied mating rituals, a swarm of males will follow the queen from the hive and out into the open air.  When a particular drone feels frisky, he might take a run at the queen.  If successful in catching the queen in mid-air, he will insert his penis inside her.  That’s where the real trouble begins.  An explosive climax will rupture his penis and he will then fall to the ground and perish, tearing away from his penis and leaving it inside the queen.
The queen will entertain multiple males before being sated.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Doctors Remove a Screwdriver from a Man’s Forehead

Okay, first of all, the guy is Polish.
I am Polish. 
We may not be the brightest bulbs in the pack.
So this Polish man wakes from falling on the ground while doing some work in his garden.  His head is pounding.  He walks to his car and looks at himself in the rear view mirror.  Yep—sure enough—a screwdriver is protruding from his forehead.
That’s a little weird!
He smokes a cigarette and then asks a neighbor to find a way to get him to the hospital.
The doctors remove the screwdriver.
The man smokes more cigarettes.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tweaked Horse

On my way to work yesterday I came upon a lone horse in a pasture just as the sun splayed rays across the landscape.  When I stepped out to take a photograph, the horse immediately trotted across the field to greet me at the fence.  I gave it four carrots and then let it sniff my camera before I snapped a picture. 
Just for fun, I tweaked the colors on this one.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Three Possibilities

·         In one possibility I turn unapologetically liberal, begin reporting to various work appointments wearing nothing but a canary yellow speedo, and write-in the name “Donald Duck” on every ballot for which I am eligible to vote.

·         In another possibility I author a runaway best-selling book.  Every page of the book has only the line: “What the _____________” written at the center.  The idea is that the readers will fill-in the blank each day with a different word depending on their mood.  

·         In the final possibility I prefer the company of women.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Black Widow

The spider Latrodectus, more commonly known as a black widow, is found throughout most of the Western Hemisphere.  In my view, black widows are the creepiest-looking spider around.  They are unearthly shiny and cold.  The forelegs of a black widow seem to almost telescope as they tap along their webs.  Their webs are chaotic and often cluttered with the dismantled bodies of bugs they have captured and killed.
They are junk collectors.
The black widow earned that name because oftentimes the female will kill her much smaller male partner after mating.  And the venom of a black widow is 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake.  Fortunately, these spiders prefer quiet and dark corners.  They are not social and not particularly adventurous.   In the fall, I often find one or two hammocked between the rake and shovel handles in my garage, preparing to overwinter.
I once bellied deep into the crawl space of a house while working (as an electrician) and found myself surrounded by more than a dozen black widows suspended in ugly webs all around me.   As luck would have it, my trouble light blinked-out just as I scuttled into this firmament of spiders.  I screamed at my partner to tape a new bulb to my cord.  I cautiously fished the new bulb toward me, fired it up, quickly finished my work, and then drove back to tell my boss he would need to fire me before ever sending me back to that place again.
I was serious.
The black widow is threat enough to workers that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) publishes a fact sheet about the spider for workers likely to encounter them.
On Sunday last, I opened my door to let 40 pounds of cat outside and found a black widow clinging to the bottom of the door along with a few fragments of leaf in her web.  I did not kill her.  Instead, I coaxed her onto a wooden dowel and carried her out for release into the wild bunchgrass.  I took a picture of her before letting her go.       

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Tree Holds the Night

The photograph I am posting today was taken by me about ten years ago.  I stood shivering in the cold for twenty minutes waiting for the sky to blush on one side of the tree.  As I recall, the temperature was only about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 4, 2013

List of Places Where the Sun Projects Squares and Rectangles of Light Inside My House on Sunday Afternoons

·         One square across the entry throw where my cat, Carmel, sprawls to bath in the warmth.

·         A single rectangle at odds with the lines of the faux wood floor in the room where my wife faded away from me.

·         Another cast against the recliner where I sometimes sit simply to think.

·         Two squares in the den.

·         A trapezoid in the room where my daughter sobbed when boys broke her heart.

·         A square on each side of my bed.  One on the side where my feet find the floor each morning.  The other on the side now untouched.

·         The last square of light drowning in the pure white of the bathtub in my bathroom.   
--Mitchell Hegman 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Event unlike any Other

One morning, as I stood at my bay window looking out to assess the evolving day, I spotted a single white feather falling from the sky.  The feather was downy and descending slowly, without any lateral drift—the way a pearl might sink through a vat filled with oil.  The feather was perhaps one hundred feet off the ground when I first saw it.  In all the remaining expanse of sky I saw nothing but that feather.  Not a cloud.  Not a single bird.  And I watched the feather ease all the way down into the tawny grass, with jade-colored mountains behind, and perfect silence all around.
What meaning in that?        
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Twins to the Rescue

Starting up a new business is not easy.  Starting up a new business with a construction component following a total collapse of the economy is even more not easy!
Yes, I am aware that I just butchered the English language in the sentence above.
Anyhow, we have been using my young business partner’s home—mostly his kitchen—as our office for many months.  Sometimes we share our office with his small twin girls.  An actual office would be nice.  We both agree on that.  But we need to produce more income before that will happen. 
The other day I worked for several hours straight on developing a flow-chart we might use for determining the best energy-efficient “luminaires” for use in replacing old-school, magnetically operated lighting fixtures.  There are dozens choices.  Additionally, we must consider lumen outputs, starting cycles, starting temperatures, Kelvin color temperatures, ballast factors…and on until you crash into a wall.  Naturally, I developed a headache.
This is the part where working in a house with children has advantages.  Rubbing at my forehead, I plodded into the living room to clear my mind.  Here is a photograph of the scene I discovered there.

I felt better at once.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 1, 2013

Homeward Bound: The Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bears here in Montana (Ursus Arctos Horribilis) have for the last century been mostly confined to remote wilderness areas in the mountains.  They were, before white men settled the West, a plains animal.  During the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery the men in the expedition killed 43 of the grizzly bears they encountered while trekking along the rivers and streams across the plains—mostly here in Montana.  But the bears in the last couple of years have been venturing far out onto the high plains of Montana again, usually following the rivers that twist away from the Rocky Mountain front.
In a Great Falls Tribune article, Karl Puckett noted that in 2009 a young grizzly followed the Teton River all the way to Loma, Montana.  Loma is 100 miles from the mountains.  In June of 2010, two grizzlies were spotted near Floweree, again something near 100 miles from the Rocky Mountains.  In the smattering of towns only a few miles off the wall of mountains where the Rockies meet the Northern Plains, grizzly sightings are becoming downright common.
The male grizzlies in Montana average something in the range of 400 to 600 pounds.  They are much smaller than their immediate kin, the Alaskan Brown, which may easily reach over 1000 pounds.   The behavior of these bears, though, is markedly different.  The bears in Alaska seem genuinely unconcerned about sharing space with humans.  Fishermen and bears often shoulder along the same fishing holes on rivers during the salmon run.  That will not work with Grizzlies in Montana.  The bears in Montana are substantially more aggressive and may charge if you approach within a few hundred yards.  That is problematic when you consider that they have been clocked to run at 30 miles an hour.  A mother with her cubs is particularly wary of incursion into her claimed territory.
Though I suspect a reliable list of fatal grizzly attacks and maulings is available, I did not find such.  Wikipedia, yes.  Recent years have seen a few.  In 2011, two people were killed by grizzlies in Yellowstone Park.  Later that year, a grizzly, wounded by hunters on the Montana-Idaho border, turned on them, in the ensuing fight one man shot and killed his partner while trying to end the attack.  Another fatal Grizzly attack here in Montana occurred in the Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman in 2010.  The bears are expanding territory and being seen in unlikely places.  In 2007 a pheasant hunter was mauled, but survived, while hunting along Dupuyer Creek, some fifteen or so miles off the Front Range in open ranch country.  
I have a cabin deep in the mountains behind the Front.  The cabin is within walking distance of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  Bear Country.  A grizzly sow and three cubs summered in my little valley a few years back.  Thankfully, I never encountered her.  I kept an eye roving at all times when I hiked around my cabin.
But the plains are where the bears once lived.  And now that their population has started to recover a little, some are feeling the urge to return home.        
--Mitchell Hegman