Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

One Person


Open your mind.
Imagine that you and only one other person will be the last people to inhabit Earth.  You cannot repopulate the planet.  Therefore, the other person could be anyone.
Who might you choose to live with in this end time?  A great scholar?  Someone of striking beauty from the opposite sex?  A loved one? 
If you were thinking the Orkin man, because you still want someone around who can kill bugs, you really are a pussy.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

False Hellebore


Last weekend, I drove high into the mountains above Lincoln, Montana.  The uppermost peaks still hold snow in deeper scores and catchments.  Below all of that, where I looped through the forest understory on a narrow road, the beargrass was blooming in full.
While the area around my home—some sixty miles distant as the crow flies and caught permanently in the natural rain shadow created by the Continental Divide—is already drying out, the loftiest forests are still coming alive.  The deeper pockets and notches are just now beginning to flourish with summer’s brightest greens.
Posted today are two photographs of false hellebore I captured at a switchback in one of the deeper mountain pockets.  The hellebore are not yet half-grown.   These plants might grow to be as tall as a man.  Hellebore is also highly toxic.  I find the leaves particularly beautiful in pattern.


--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Important


Only two things are truly important:
Children.  And how we treat children.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 27, 2016

Park Differently


I have a parking problem. 
I wrote previously about my shortcomings (perhaps not a strong enough word) when it comes to parallel parking.  Basically, if you want me to parallel park, I am going to need more than one steering wheel and a whole lot more room.  And don’t try to hold me to being within eighteen inches of the curb.
In your run-of-the-mill parking lot, with curbs and islands and painted lines, I also struggle.  I have, for example, a tendency to park aslant relative to the painted lines.  The ass of my car is often hanging out.  If parking next to a curb, I am either too near or too far from curb.  Sometimes, I require three attempts to get situated properly in my spot. 
Yesterday, at a grocery store parking lot, I saw something interesting.  What I mean by interesting is behavior every bit as silly as mine.  As I walked across the lot, a horn blared not far away.  Looking in that direction, I saw a man in a truck honking to warn a woman that she was about to drive her van smack over the center of an island in the parking lot.
Did that stop her?
Ab-si-tively (my own word) not!
She bucked right over that island, groceries slamming around in the van, and drove away.
I was very proud of her commitment to holding her driving line.
Maybe that’s my problem.  I am not committed enough to my own unique way of parking.  I should embrace crooked parking.
My new motto could be: Park Differently!

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Losing My Edge


I think I am losing my edge as a male of our species.
The other night, I watched a documentary that followed the path of several young women in the pornography industry.  The documentary focused primarily on the somewhat cruel dynamic of the internet-driven market.  Most girls are chewed up and spit out in a few months.
The documentary was not at all explicit, but at times young women of various undress were featured.
Here is the issue—most of the time, while the unclothed girls were on the screen, I found myself looking at the background.  The electrical system installation where they filmed some of the documentary was awful.
So there I was…counting crooked wall plates and squinting at poorly installed lighting as a bunch of half-nude young women were scampering around.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Picking Rocks


The other day, something out of place caught my eye as I walked past one of the back windows at my house.  I stopped in my tracks, craned to look outside and see what alerted me.
Yep.  Someone was wandering around in the tall sage and blue grama grass on the slope just below my house.  Not just any someone, mind you.
It was my neighbor, Kevin.
I immediately exited my door and marched down there to see what he was up to.  Even before I reached him, I could see that he was drifting about plucking rocks from the ground and dropping them into a fabric bag.
Kevin has been collecting rocks to use as rip-rap on the lakeshore for several months.
“Are you on your own property or mine?” I called out.
He never looked up.  “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
I laughed.  “Good!  That makes two of us.”
When I finally reached him, he extended his hand to show me two “pretty” rocks he had found.  One of them looked like a finger.
“Cool,” I said.
Both of us have piles of rocks in our houses that we have collected from the immediate surround.
I soon joined in alongside Kevin, scouring the hillside for attractive rocks.  After a while I called out to Kevin again.  “Hey, Kev, you ever notice how nothing grows in these places where sagebrush was growing and then died out?”
He answered: “Probably, like juniper—poisons the ground around itself to eliminate competition.”
“Thanks for the quick answer, but you’re probably wrong.”
Laughing, both of us went back to looking for rocks.  This is what we do.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 24, 2016

An Intellectual Pursuit


If drinking beer and shooting a potato gun into the nearby hills from my back deck is not an intellectual pursuit, I don’t know what is.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Will it cut us if we touch it?


A young boy found a small yellow flower.  He found the flower growing from a crack in the sidewalk near an abandoned factory.
The police were notified immediately when someone spotted the boy touching the flower.
Soon, six smartly dressed officers surrounded the yellow flower.  “What does the yellow signify?” asked one officer.  “Will it cut us if we touch it?” asked another officer.  “What if it continues to grow?” asked a third officer.
A loud, clanking machine was brought in to uproot the flower.
The flower was taken to a great university.  Four scientists collected around the flower.  “Can we grow this into a cash crop?” asked one scientist.  “Can we produce a drug from the oils?” asked another scientist.  “What is required to keep it alive?” asked a third scientist.
After much observation and testing, the small yellow flower was deemed harmless and, most importantly, of no immediate value. The scientists discarded the flower in the trash.
Several years later, an abandoned landfill near the university was ablaze with small yellow flowers.  The flowers didn’t fret that they were flourishing on a pile of refuse.  They didn’t analyze how they got there or how far they might spread.  The flowers simply stood their ground.
Moral of this story?    
Flowers don’t give a fuck.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Hawk and the Robin


Yesterday, while walking through the forest near my cabin, I watched a hawk fold in midair and drop into a nearby fir tree, vanishing among the thick bows.  A great commotion followed.  I heard robins calling frantically from the tree.  A few moments later, the hawk flapped skyward again, a fledgling robin clutched in its talons.  An adult robin chased after the hawk, crying.
The birds soon melted back into the mountains around me.  Nothing left but the sound of a breeze sifting through the pines and purple lupine nodding against the green grass below.
Me?
I walked on, a bit saddened.
Just the same, I am not here to judge hawks.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

None of the Above


In America, we have always said that anyone can be president.  That really didn’t bother me much until this year’s election.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cactus


Today, since the cactus are in bloom around my house, I am posting three photographs I captured of them yesterday. 
The prickly pear and ball cactus (sometimes called pin cushion cactus) pictured are tough characters.  They will hurt you if you tangle with them.  But the blossoms of these plants are conspicuous and beautiful.

















--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Pretzel Bag and the Boy across the Aisle


Less than a year ago, I learned that the snack bags given to you on an airplane have a tear-tab manufactured onto one end.  To open the bag, you simply split the bag apart at that point.
Presto!  A neatly opened bag of pretzels or peanuts.
This was quite a revelation to me—something along the lines of discovering that closing my mouth while riding a bike will prevent me from eating bugs.
Good to know, right?
Actually, that girl showed me the snack-bag trick after she watched me open a bag World War III style (with both hands and my teeth).  My pretzels exploded across the cabin on a plane bound for Seattle.
Friday, on a flight back to Montana, I asked for a bag of pretzels.  I opened them without incident.
Across the aisle from me sat a boy of about fourteen or fifteen.  His mother sat beside him.  The quickest observance of the boy revealed that he suffered from profoundly impaired cognitive and physical abilities.  I watched the boy and his mother interacting as we flew from the green side of America to the America of river-crossed basins and rocky ranges—the West.
The boy’s mother prodded the boy every so often so he would open his mouth.  She would then extend a hotdog to the boy so he could take a bite.  Lolling his head, the boy would chew and chew and chew on the hotdog until his mother reminded him that he needed to swallow.
As I munched from my gracefully opened bag of pretzels, I thought about how lucky I was to open my own bag.  I am lucky to be able to tie my own shoes.  To drive from place to place.  To whistle a three-note tune.  To call a friend and engage in mindless conversation.
Such small things, I know.  But my biggest days are really no more than a series of such small things strung together.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Severed Garden


Today, Jim Morrison, the poet:

--Mitchell Hegman
Please click on this link if the posted video fails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJhfgybmfZQ 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Yesterday, that girl and I drove to Cleveland.  While there, we toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Lots of guitars and crazy outfits on display there.  Many videos to watch.  I really liked seeing the original lyrics for songs, sometimes scratched down on scraps of paper.  Famous Bob Dylan songs.  Beatles songs.  You name it.
I stood at the Doors exhibit for quite a while.
Jim Morrison was a shooting star, a poet.  He, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix—all died at the age of twenty-seven.
Posted is a photograph of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jim Morrison, and the lyrics for Riders on the Storm as Jim Morrison wrote them.  The song turned out to be the last song he and the Doors recorded together.  Morrison left for Paris and died only a few weeks after recording the song.
The song is both beautiful and dark…so very much like Jim Morrison himself.
The Doors are my favorite American rock band of all time.
Don’t rest in peace, Jim Morrison.  Keep on rocking, man.




















--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Traffic



We are running in place, but we’ve got somewhere to be!
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day Fifteen


I wake to the blaring of a garbage truck’s backup signal.  So incessant!  As if backing right through the second story window we left open through the night.
Yes, yes, I have so much nonsensical junk inside my head I could fill that truck.  Just the same, I am happy when the truck changes directions—the alarm dying at once—and rumbles away, gradually shrinking.
New, smaller sounds overlay the truck.  A lone dog barking below the canopy of street-side trees.  The steady whine of heavy traffic streaming toward Cleveland on a distant highway.  A single car slapping at the cracks in the paving as it passes by on the street directly below.  And, finally, a robin chipping from someplace in the tree nearest our window.
Fully awake, I peer out the window.
Look at that, will you.
Perfectly trimmed lawns.  Attractive islands of trees and flowers.  Basketball hoops.  Shiny cars.  Home after perfect home.  Beautiful in its own orderly way.
Welcome to Medina, Ohio.
We can walk to a store if we wanted.  Nearby is everything you might desire.  Furniture outlets.  Fine dining. Hardware.  Sporting events.    
But what I really want is to see a mountain with a little snow clinging to the top.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

17-Year Cicadas


If you really like noise, I have just the thing for you: cicadas.  We are talking over 80 decibels loud in some places—maybe over 100 decibels if you are nutty enough to hang one of the little song-makers from your ear.  Presently, one of the 17-year cicada broods is emerging from the earth in parts of Ohio.  Billions upon billions of cicadas will crawl from the earth in the Eastern United States this year and take to the skies.
Let me explain.  First, cicadas are bugs.  Almost-as-big-as-your-thumb bugs.  Several species of Cicadas exist.  Moreover, cicada “broods” appear on different cycles.  “Periodical cicadas” such as those emerging this year, emerge in either 13-year or 17-year cycles.
The life cycle of periodical cicadas begins when an adult female lays her eggs on trees.  She lays her eggs in grooves she cuts into the limbs of trees.  Upon hatching, the nymphs (juveniles) drop to the ground and burrow deep into the soil.  The slowly growing insects then spends the next 13 or 17 years in the ground (depending on the brood cycle).  They live on tree juices they steal from the roots.
When the temperature is right (as is occurring right now here in Ohio) the juveniles burrow up out of the ground and climb the nearest trees.  Clinging to the bark, they shed their nymphal skin and emerge as winged adults.
Adults have three things in mind: eating, making noise, and sex.  In this regard they are very near human.
Living for another 4 to 6 weeks as an adult, the cicadas overwhelm the countryside where they have emerged.  While all other insects and animals might feast on them, the cicadas also feast on the fluids of greenery.  Though they do not defoliate plants and trees the way a locust does, they can cause considerable damage and kill trees.  Near the end of their life-cycle, the cicadas reproduce to start the cycle anew. The cicadas may also cause considerable harm when they cut into trees to deposit their eggs. 
Yesterday, while hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I encountered a brood of 17-year cicadas in the forest there.  Consider this—when these insects first burrowed into the ground, the price of gas was about $1.20 per gallon.  Britney Spears and Ricky Martin were charting songs.  You could mail a Dear John letter for a mere 33 cents.
Now, 17 years later, the cicadas have emerged to make song.
I have posted a couple of photographs and a video I captured.
Turn up your sound and enjoy the cacophony!



--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fighting the Good Fight


Yesterday, I watched the Realm of Avalon clashing in practice battles at a city park in Akron, Ohio.  The battle participants wore fantasy-themed attire and used foam-padded weapons in their clashes.  The fighting was chaotic and surprisingly quick.
I very much enjoyed watching the battles.
The Realm of Avalon is an Akron-based group practicing under the rules of the Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.  According to the Belegarth website, http://www.belegarth.com, the society has been active and expanding since 1979.  Today, members can be found worldwide.  The society provides members with rules for organizing realms, safety guidelines, and a forum for communication and related events.
The participants of the battles I watched were eager to explain the rules and fighting strategies as I watched.  Soon, I was able to better understand what I was witnessing.  Skills and strategies emerged from the chaos.
The weapons used in these fights must be constructed to strict specifications regarding weight, length, and foam assembly.  Specifications for the strength of bows used by archers are in included.  Stringent rules for the placement of blows by weapons are also given.  Obviously, you cannot strike someone in the face with hand weapons such as a sword, club, or spear.  Anyone injured or dealt a fatal blow must play that part.  In a staged battle, a killed participant must contact the ground at three points to indicate that they are dead     
I assure you, the fighters take great pride in clothing, weaponry, and fighting skills.  Most society adherents take on fighting nicknames.  These names often translate into their daily lives.
The Realm of Avalon practiced for several hours as I watched.  Today, I am posting photographs from yesterday’s mock battles. 
I would happily go watch such an event again.















--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 12, 2016

And I Quote


If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes again, only sooner.

--Tallulah Bankhead

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Stan Hywet


Stan Hywet, is old English for stone quarry.  Stan Hywet is also the name of the estate that once belonged to Franklin (“F.A.”) Seiberling here in Akron, Ohio.  Seiberling and his brother, Charles (“C.W.”) Seiberling, were co-founders of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company started out in an abandoned strawberry processing factory on the banks of the Little Cuyahoga River in 1898.  Initially, the company produced bicycle tires, carriage tires, horseshoe pad, and poker chips.  By 1916, helped along by the expanding automobile industry, Goodyear was the largest tire company in the world.
The groundbreaking for Stan Hywet Manor took place in 1912.  This undertaking was so enormous, a railway spur was extended to the property for delivery of construction materials.  The house totals 64,500 square feet and contains 65 rooms.  The Seiberling family took up residence in the house in late 1915 and resided there until 1955 (the year F.A. Seiberling died).
The family donated the entire estate to a non-profit in 1957.  They wanted everyone to enjoy the manor and gardens as they had.
That girl and I took a couple hours to visit Stan Hywet yesterday morning.  There is no way to share the experience with just a few photographs.  I have posted a few that might offer a “feel” of the place.
I suggest you drop in for a visit if you are ever in Akron.














--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 10, 2016

Welcome Mackenna (Born 6-9-2016)


Today we welcome Mackenna Eliza Flanigan to our world.
Welcome, Mackenna, to our very best.  Welcome to your first day of warm sunshine at the windows.  Welcome to smiling faces and calm voices and songs for dancing.
Later, we will take you to where wind twirls leaves on trees, where songbirds jump and stick to painted skies, where you can run through grass and jump just because you feel like jumping.
Welcome, Mackenna to a waxing crescent moon.  Welcome to warm blankets.  Welcome to long stem roses, puppies to join you, and all things that taste sweet.  Welcome to twenty-four hours in a day and sky-on-fire sunsets.  Welcome to bugs you hold in your hand.  Welcome to all the visible colors, all the long rivers, all the clear lakes, all that glitters, and all that does not.
Your mother and your father welcome you.
Your grandmothers welcome you.
A dozen Irish uncles with gruff voices and soft hearts welcome you.
Welcome, also, from all the aunties with sing-song names.
Welcome, welcome from all.
You, my dear, are the reason why we have been here since the beginning of time.













--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Grandfatherish Person


In what must certainly be considered an act of supreme generosity, I am being allowed to become a grandfatherish person.  I am not and cannot be the actual grandfather in this case for two valid reasons.  First, I am not married to that girl—the actual grandmother.  Secondly, I have no connection by blood to either birth family here.
I am brand new to most of both families.  I have, in fact, spent virtually every day of the last four meeting that girl’s friends and family here in Ohio.
Last night, that girl’s daughter was admitted to a hospital so the process of an induced birth might be started.  She is eight days past her due date.  These days, the process of inducing child birth is slow and methodical.  The child will likely arrive at some point later today.
Here is the generosity: This morning, the expectant mother and father are allowing me to go to the hospital with that girl so that I can act as the grandfatherish person.  I am not under any illusion that having me there is everyone’s most fervent wish.  I know that I am too early into this many-webbed relationship to have any weight at all.  I am allowed due only to the kindness of that girl and her family.
Still, I am thrilled at the whole idea of this grandfatherish thing.  I can already see the new toys.  Imaginary games.  Something stirring around every corner.
A new baby!
And me…all grandfatherish in Ohio.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Charm, Ohio


Charm reposes firmly in Holmes County, Ohio.  In 1808 a man Jonas Stutzman settled in the yet wild countryside that would later become Holmes County.  Stutzman was Amish.
Today, Holmes County and the tiny community of Charm is home to one of the largest concentrations of Amish faith holders in Ohio.
The Amish (and closely related Mennonites) are part of the 16th Century Anabaptist movement.  The Anabaptist movement originated during the 16th Century Protestant Restoration in Switzerland.  Anabaptists reject the idea of baptism at birth (in favor of baptizing adult believers).  They also believe in firm separation between church and state and in nonresistance.
Adherents to the Anabaptist movement came to America from Switzerland seeking freedom of religion.
Today, several disciplines exist within the Amish/Mennonite faith.  The most conservative Amish, the Swartzentruber sect, live the simple life of the 19th Century.  They are the image of Amish that most outsiders have come to expect.  They avoid new technologies that they feel might erode family structure or create inequities within the community.  They still use bicycles and horse-drawn buggies for transportation.  Fields are tilled and harvested with implements drawn by horses.  The use of electricity and power tools is not allowed for the most part.
Some Mennonites have adopted most, if not all, conveniences of the modern world.
The Amish and Mennonites dress in accordance with the scripture, “Be not conformed to the world.”  Women wear long dresses, prayer caps, and bonnets.  Men wear plain clothing and grow beards without a mustache.  The exact style of dress might vary between sects.
Yesterday, that girl and I drove to Holmes County.  I have always said that every state in this nation has a place of great beauty.  For me, Holmes County is that place in Ohio.  I fell in love with the softly rolling hills, the paved roadways that cover the hills like netting, the orderly farms, and the buggies coming and going on the roads.
















--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Ohio and Erie Canal


The Ohio and Erie Canal complex was built between 1825 and 1832.  The canal provided a quick and reliable transportation route for then sparsely populated Ohio.  By the time of completion, the canal extended for just a bit over 300 miles through the treed expanse of Ohio.  The canal started at Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and ended at the Ohio River near Portsmouth, on the border with Kentucky.  The canal complex included several feeder canals and over 100 lifting locks for transitioning boats from one elevation to the next.  Paths were cut through the wilderness alongside the canals for the horses and mules that were used to pull canal boats.
Yesterday, that girl and I hiked a 5 mile section of the Towpath Trail.  The Towpath Trail is a multiuse trail that follows the canals and connecting river systems, sometimes using the actual mule paths from when the canal was in operation.  We hiked the section along the Cuyahoga River Valley (in Akron) where the Cuyahoga River and the Little Cuyahoga converge.  The Cuyahoga River served as part of the canal network.
Our hike started at that girl’s daughter’s house.  Her house is literally across the street from one of the Towpath access points alongside the Little Cuyahoga River in the notch valley below downtown Akron. 
We enjoyed the hike immensely.  The trail is well-developed and the clouds lifted for the afternoon.  Posted is a photograph of the path and a photograph of that girl looking where the two rivers converge.













--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ohio: The Facts


1. Fifty percent of the U.S. population lives within a 500 mile radius of Columbus Ohio.
2. Seven U.S. presidents were born in Ohio.  William Henry Harrison, president number eight “from” Ohio, was actually born in Virginia.  Harrison died after only one month in office.
3. If you want to serve horse meat at your restaurant in Ohio, you are required by law to hang a sign outside saying, “Horse Meat Served Here.”
4. The world’s first electric traffic light system was installed at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914.
5. Pollution in the Cuyahoga River has allowed the river to catch on fire thirteen times.
6. Fifty-eight percent of the U.S. population will be in the surrounding lanes when you wish to change lanes on the Ohio Turnpike.
7. Nobody remembers the names of the seven U.S. presidents born in Ohio.
8. Horse meat for dinner might be a good option if you are in Akron.
9. The first traffic light system used only a green and red light.  A buzzer sounded a few seconds before the lights were changed.
10. Locals don’t swim in the Cuyahoga River.  

--Mitchell Hegman