Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Huckleberry Problem

In my corner of the universe, approximately 6,400 huckleberries are required to fill a one-gallon container.  I made the calculations myself, thank you.  And I did so several times to assure some degree of accuracy.
I pick each and every one of my berries by hand.  I don’t use a “rake” or any other mechanical device to speed up the process or to glean a massive harvest.  Generally, you must allow me about four hours to pick a gallon—white spiders, leaves, purple hands, and sticks included.
I am not opposed to stopping and watching birds or stopping to study a flower or two while picking.  I am not a machine.  Frankly, my hours in the huckleberry patch are some of the best hours of my life.  Huckleberries, by dint of fortune, grow in the loveliest places—grizzly bears, bruising climbs, and deerflies bites included.  When picking huckleberries, I am able to shut down all problems pressing against me in life.  The mountains take me in. The powerful scent of the berries themselves.  The dizzying patchworks of shade and light.  Maybe the sound of water tumbling down through a creek nearby.  A lone bird calling from far away.
Huckleberry picking is an escape portal.
But we have a problem with huckleberries.  Well, we have two problems.  The first problem is that we call them huckleberries here in Montana.  They are actually mountain blueberries.
I can live with that problem.
The second problem is that, throughout the Pacific Northwest, huckleberry habitat is slowly shrinking away.  Once thriving patches are becoming smaller and smaller.  Surprisingly, studies have revealed that undisturbed forests are the least productive places for huckleberries. 
Huckleberries need wildfire.
The most productive huckleberry patches are presently found on the eastern and northern slopes, in areas that were either burned over by wildfire decades ago or logged and burned a dozen or so years previously.  When, following the Great Fire of 1910, forest managers started squelching fires as soon as they started, abnormally overgrown forests began to slowly squeeze out the huckleberries.
Huckleberries tend to flourish in those middle-aged forests where not in competition with every other thing that eventually comes to thrive in the forest.  They like a 50 percent forest—say a slope that is only half covered with trees and semi-shady.  Over more recent years, fire has gradually and purposely been reintroduced into the forests of the West.  We may yet see a reversal in the decline of huckleberry production in our forests.
In the meantime, starting sometime in mid to late July, you will find me between 4,000 and 7,000 feet high in the mountains (the elevation sweet spot where big huckleberries grow).  I will likely have a gallon bucket and bear spray looped through my belt.
I am about to enter the escape portal.

--Mitchell Hegman
Sources: John Ashely, Huckleberry Culture, USDA, US Forest Service, Ellen Horowitz

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Announcements, Part Two

Today we gather at the corner of First and Main.
As a social experiment, the city has decided to randomly capture people in nets and relocate them to different neighborhoods.  Details can be found in a pamphlet we will be handing out a bit later.
The Parks Department is pleased to announce that they have received a private grant to construct a bounce park for pet turtles.
The police department reports that little Francine, the girl who beat cancer, has stolen the heart of the city.
A reminder as we approach the heat of summer: Water is awesome!
Finally, starting next Tuesday, anyone named Hank shall be referred to as “the person formerly known as Hank.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 29, 2016

Announcements, Part One

Today, we gather at the marigolds.
By their own consensus vote, the mule deer have assured us that they will stop eating the marigolds.   Not so the native gay feather.  Not so the fire wheels.
The ladybugs have agreed to move their meet-and-greet to the wood roses on Saturday morning.  Aphids are urged not to attend.
As a courtesy, the Northside Wasps wish to inform the Eastside Ants that they have detected the presence of antlions near the chokecherry bushes.  For the safety of the ants, they are urged to avoid the chokecherry.
Finally, a reminder that huckleberries are ripening at most elevations.  And remember, those berries are not going to pick themselves!
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunset, July 26

The arrival and departure of late evening thunderstorms over the last few days has made for some striking sunsets.  Today, I am posting photographs I captured outside my house the night before last.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heron Blue

Most songs are wholly based on repetition.  John Hartford, the singer-songwriter, sometimes dancer, sometimes steamboat pilot, said something much like that long before me.  If you fail to recognize Hartford’s name, perhaps you know his song “Gentle on my Mind,” made famous by Glen Campbell.
I have always liked John Hartford’s stuff.  I own two of his albums.  John Hartford was odd.  He was a marriage of hippie and redneck.  And he did not take shit seriously.
Hartford is, sadly, no longer with us.  His name was actually “Harford,” but Chet Atkins (another famous musician) convinced him to change his last name to Hartford.  Hartford was a descendant of Patrick Henry.  Patrick Henry was the fellow famous for saying: “Give me liberty, or give me death” during our initial struggle for American independence.  John Hartford was also first cousin to Tennessee Williams.  Tennessee Williams was a famous Southern playwright.  He wrote A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie.
Anyhow, back to the music.
The repetitious beats and the repeating notes—the sweet predictability—is much of what draws me (and likely you) into a song.   This is why we might tap our feet or sway in a certain way as we listen.   And there is something deeper that accesses me.  Something primal.  I don’t know how to explain this, but some songs can strike me as sad or joyous almost immediately.  All of that, a function of the notes, the chords, the specific repetitions.  Obviously, if the song is not strictly an instrumental, the vocals and lyrics will also contribute to the mood.
I cannot say that I prefer a happy sounding song to one that strikes me as sad.
Today I am posting a song that I find somber, yet hauntingly lovely.  The song is particularly repetitions and unchanging.  The song is fairly long.  Strangely, more often than not, I will play this songs two or three times in a row when I listen to it.
Don’t know why I do that.  I just do.
I give you Sun Kil Moon and their song Heron Blue.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the video posted here fails, please try this link:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Decision

Should I eat Mitch and that girl’s little orange flowers?  Or should I walk away?

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 25, 2016

Meeting the Day

Some days, it is enough to simply stand at my window and watch my trees shaking hands with the wind.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dishtowel Retrieval Device

This story, as so many stories in my life, begins with me knocking a full glass of something over.  In this instance, said something is iced tea.  And I pretty much slapped the filled glass across my kitchen countertop.
Big mess!
I quickly grabbed a dishtowel and sopped-up the liquid.  As I walked back into the laundry room to pitch the damp towel into the clothes washer, I noticed dust atop the dryer.  The washer, dryer, and a stand-up freezer are all in a continuous line along one wall.  Since the towel was damp, I thought I might lightly dust all three off with the towel, starting with the freezer.
After a couple of brisk swipes, the dishtowel flung off the back and fell down between the back of the appliances and the wall.
Stupid, Mitch!
I dragged a chair into the laundry, climbed atop the dryer, and peered down into the mess of hoses, venting, and cords.  The dishtowel lay sprawled on the floor far below. This would require some type of dishtowel retrieval device.
I wandered out to the garage looking for ideas.  No, to a long one-by-four made of pine.  No, to my projector screen stand.  No, to that girl’s bag of shoes.  Golf clubs!
When retrieving a towel, you need to pick your club as cautiously as when approaching the green.  Obviously, a driver is too much.  After flicking through the clubs, I chose an eight iron.  Perfect pitch for catching the towel.  Eager to try fetching the towel, I trotted back inside, climbed atop the dryer, extended the eight iron down behind the freezer and began flailing around.
Clunk, clunk, tink-tink, bonk, thud!
The club dropped down to the floor and now lay right beside the towel, far out of reach.
Needed: eight iron/dishtowel retrieval device.
Back out to the garage.  No, to our 2015 Ford, Tauris.  No, to the five gallon propane bottle.  No, again, to the stand for my projector screen.  Window squeegee with a four-foot handle!
I returned to the laundry with the squeegee.
Okay, this story could go on for several more pages.  I will, instead, give you a condensed ending.  Here are the important elements of how this story concludes:  Great mechanical sounds plus grunting.  That girl accusing me of remodeling the house.  The passage of much time.  Clothes washer dragged halfway across the room.  Finally, I dominate the dishtowel and eight iron.  That girl pours me another glass of iced tea.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Like Stumbling upon a Royal Wedding

Start early, while the sun is still uprighting on wobbly legs.  Cross the broad valleys with postage-stamp houses affixed to the curing grassland washing against the highways.  Up, then, into the high mountains.  A tail of dust raised behind you.  Into the tall pines.  Up and up and up the inclines.  Overtop clear water creeks.
Until you reach the half-lighted knoll.  The all green place.
Climb now on foot.  The sun still pulling itself higher, limb by limb, in the trees just above.  Tall orchard grass and timothy and red paintbrush.  Moths stirring as you swim up through new growth.
And then you find yourself there.
Like stumbling upon a royal wedding.  Perfectly set.  All the proper dress.  All the important characters in attendance.  Thimbleberry nodding broad leaves.  Bright stands of fireweed.  Late trillium.  Twinberry.  Beargrass hand in hand with pinedrops.  A single swallowtail butterfly sewing its colors through the morning air.   
There, amid all of that, the royal family come to wed amid fallen timber, amid all that is sweet, amid all that is rugged and steep.

There, huckleberries.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 22, 2016


That girl and I saw a UFO.  We saw the UFO night before last while out sitting on our back deck at sunset.  I am posting a crummy and greatly enlarged photograph I captured with my SLR camera.
My photograph is not helpful, I know.
The thing we saw remained mostly stationary high in the atmosphere.  I thought it was a weird planet when I first sighted it.  I fetched my spotting scope and managed to fix on it for several minutes.
I would describe the thing as bright metallic, or white, and shaped like a sweet onion.  Lines ran vertically down side of the object.  A single bright light blinked on the belly and one “side” of the UFO seemed concaved in a circular shape.
We lost sight of the UFO as the sky fully darkened around it.
I conducted an internet search and found only one thing that seemed similar: NASA’s Wanaka balloon.  But I cannot imagine a balloon so stationary.  I have posted a photograph of the Wanaka balloon.
I am not suggesting the UFO came from a distant planet.  I just don’t know what it was.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 21, 2016


I desire to be either the thing that causes chickens to cross the road or the thing that makes cats purr.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Welcome Window

I work with two computers.  A desktop and a laptop.  I set them up as twins—more or less—so that all of my work files exist on each one.  I primarily use my laptop, but share files between machines with dropbox.  If my laptop should crash—this has happened—I can theoretically pick up right where I left off on my desktop machine.
Well, this morning, I and 40 pounds housecat sat before my desktop model in bewilderment.
Okay, I was bewildered.
My 40 pounds of housecat were sitting there shedding hair all over my keyboard, concerned that I may never feed them again.
Here is what I did.  In a moment of weakness, I gave in to the pop-up window on my desktop and clicked to accept a free upgrade to Windows 10.  This is the same sort of weakness that causes people to purchase time share condos in Mexico or pleasure boats with a loan requiring twelve years of payments.
My machine worked through the night, the screen filling with percentage numbers and loading bars and who knows what.  I woke before sunrise and found a great light emanating from my den.  A massive blue computer screen.  Welcome, Mitch, to Windows 10.
I clicked on a few things.
Holy hell, where am I?  What is that?
That’s when my cats appeared and jumped up onto my desk.
I poked at my keyboard and swished my cursor back and forth.
Here we go kids.  One step forward.  One step sideways.  Three steps back.  Click, click, click.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Legacy

I want better than to leave a gravesite and a marker for my descendants to tend in bad weather.  Instead, I want to give them a cabin in the woods where the swords of morning’s first light cleave down through the trees to illuminate the doors and windows.  I envision the children of children pressed against the cabin windows, waiting for enough light that they might run deep into the woods with chipmunks bouncing across the pathways ahead of them.  I want a yearlong creek flouncing nearby and swallowtail butterflies fluttering through every summer day.  And give my descendants perfectly white snow several times every winter.
Let me be remembered and forgotten in all of that.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 18, 2016

Arrastra Creek Revisited

Arrastra Creek pitches itself from boulder to boulder.  Flings insistent, white arms over deadfall.  Nudges against mossy banks.  Tumbles down through steep, heavily forested inclines.
The creek is attended by false hellebore, Solomon’s seal, thimbleberry, and all manner of blooming flowers.
You can hear Arrastra Creek from a distance—mumbling at first—blustering as you draw near.  And then, as you step down into the attending foliage, the cool, moist air reaches around you.  Holds you there.
More beautiful than a rocket to the moon.
Vital as skin on skin.
Posted are photographs I captured of Arrastra Creek yesterday.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mary Fields

While watching an episode of Hell on Wheels, a flamboyant character named Mary Fields was introduced.  If you are unfamiliar with Hell on Wheels, it is a series originally produced by AMC.  Hell on Wheels was the name of a half-assed town—mostly whorehouses, dance halls, and gambling establishments—that followed Union Pacific workers across the wilds of the West as they constructed the first Transcontinental Railroad.  The series is a mix of fact and fiction that charts the railroad construction though the 1860s.  In the Hell on Wheels series, Mary Fields is a hard-drinking, scrappy, black woman who drives a stagecoach.
Turns out, Mary Fields was a person of historical significance.  Though not exactly as portrayed on the television series.
The exact year Mary Fields was born is something of a guess by historians.  The best estimate is that she was born into slavery in Tennessee in 1832.  Freed at the end of the Civil War, Mary remained close to the family that once owned her.  She was particularly close to Dolly Dunn, the daughter of this family.  When Dolly moved to Ohio and then, in 1884, to Cascade, Montana, Mary followed her.  She thrived in the West.
Definitely not a fragile specimen, Mary Fields stood six feet tall and weighed something near 200 pounds.  She wore a pair of trousers under her dresses.  She often wore an apron—which both kept her warm and concealed the gun she almost always carried.  Mary also smoked bad cigars, and drank plenty of whiskey.  She spoke her mind and was not afraid to punch a man in the face.  A newspaper in Great Falls, Montana once noted that she was responsible for more broken noses in Central Montana than any other person.
Upon arrival in Montana, Mary took a job at a mission for young Native American girls.  Her friend Dolly worked there and likely got her the job.  Mary chopped wood, did carpentry and stone masonry work, and performed any other manner of odd job required to keep the mission functioning.  She also made regular supply runs to the nearest train station and sometimes to Great Falls or Helena with a horse-drawn wagon.
Mary was fired from the mission after she and another hired hand engaged in a gun fight over a dispute about wages—she was making more than him.  Reportedly, one of the bullets Mary fired put holes in the bishop’s laundry hanging out to dry on a line.  Fortunately, both parties lived after the shootout.
In 1895, Mary took the job that made her a figure of historical importance.  She started carrying letters and parcels for the U. S. Mail.  She was the first black woman to carry mail in the country and only the second woman to do so.  Her route in Central Montana was rugged and subject to extreme weather.  Mary took great pride in delivering letters and parcels no matter the difficulties.  People in Montana were so impressed, they nicknamed her “Stagecoach Mary,” a name that recognized her ability to keep a regular schedule no matter the circumstances.  Native Americans called her “White Crow” because she acted like a white woman but was black.
Mary carried mail for ten years.  Following that she “retired” to Cascade and opened a laundry.  The people of Cascade dearly loved Mary.  She was a regular fixture at baseball games and a regular at the local tavern.  The famed western artist Charlie Russell, who also lived in Cascade for a while, drew a pen-and-ink drawing of Mary called A Quiet Day in Cascade, which depicts Mary spilling eggs from a basket while being upended by a hog.
Mary Fields died and was buried in Cascade, Montana, in 1914.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sources: AMC,,

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Within the administration functions of my blog, there is a tab for “stats.”  The total number of pageviews are counted there.  I can see what browsers are used to access the blog.  I can determine how many readers feed-in from Facebook.  I am able to determine the make-up of my audience by country.   This can be determined by day, week, month, or all time.
This morning, just for fun, I checked a few stats.  I discovered something.  I have been visited by Mauritius three times this week.
The Republic of Mauritius is a tiny island nation afloat in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa.  The island was uninhabited until the Dutch established a colony on the island in the 1600s.  Over the next couple of centuries, the island subsequently fell under French and British rule.  In 1968 the island state achieved independence.
For a time, due to its strategic location, Mauritius was known as the “star and key” of the Indian Ocean.  The island is a bit less than 800 square miles in size (by comparison, Montana is 147,164 square miles) and is comprised of beautiful lagoons, reefs, beaches, rainforests, and volcanic mountains.  At present, the island nation has a population of a bit over 1 million people.  And one of them has visited me.
Thank you, someone in Mauritius, you made my day!
PHOTO: ROCS Group Travel

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 15, 2016

From Here to Timbuktu

Perched on the edge of the great Sahara, the ancient city of Timbuktu stood at the trading crossroads between Europe and the Middle East during centuries past.  For hundreds of years, Europeans considered the city the last known outpost before the great unexplored African interior.  Over time, the phrase “from here to Timbuktu” came to represent the edge of the world, an almost mythical place.

For those living in the dry lands near the city, Timbuktu is something akin to the center of the universe.  The semi-nomadic people dwelling in the deserts surrounding Timbuktu claim that during times of low visibility (such as when encountering sandstorms or when clouds obscure the guiding stars) they can determine where they are in the desert, and their distance from Timbuktu, by tasting the sand at their feet.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 14, 2016

About Last Night

All things in moderation, except killing space aliens with spears who are running at you.  Kill those bastards.  That shit just isn’t natural.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lesson Learned

I soaked in the hot tub early this morning—long before the sun shark-finned along the Big Belt Mountains to our east.  A tiny see-through-type winged insect floated up to my left hand as I relaxed in the steamy water.  The bug appeared to be a goner.  I swept the bug up out of the water with my index finger.  
Before we finish talking about the bug, I need to share a couple facts about me, some of which you may not care to know.
For one thing, I don’t wear underwear.  This, plus a zipper, can be problematic.  These days, I tend to favor button up pants.
I once hit myself in the head with my own hammer.  That was an accident, I assure you.
I also stabbed myself in the ass with a fillet knife.  Another accident.
I sometimes do stupid things on purpose.  I give you, for example, the time I tried to jump my motorcycle over a roadway.  Let’s just go with splat for an ending there.
The big thing is this: I often learn my lessons by doing the wrong things first.  This is where the little insect returns to my blog.  As I lifted the insect from the water with my index finger, I thought to myself, “I wonder if I can revive this fella with chest pumps?”
I tried to work the bug between my index finger and the pinky finger from my other hand.
The fact that insects don’t exactly have a chest as we know it complicated my procedure right from the start.  And this little bug was particularly soft.  The rescue process got kind of squishy and ugly.  I think we should leave the subject with that.
Lesson learned.
I need to stick with hurting myself as I go forward.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beaver Creek

Yesterday, I wrote about Rock Creek and the Beartooth Highway.  We intended to follow the creek up into the Beartooth Mountains and then cross into Yellowstone Park from there.
Didn’t happen.
A massive summer snowstorm swept over the high range and buried the uppermost highway under heavy snow and forced a road closure.
We (me, that girl, and her fiend Laurie) settled for crossing over the Beaver Creek flowing near West Yellowstone, Montana.  There is another Beaver Creek in the Big Belt Mountains a dozen miles from my house.  And another Beaver Creek in North Central Montana’s Bears Paw Mountains.  We passed by yet another near Livingston, Montana just before we reached the park.  And there are other Beaver Creeks—probably dozens more—in Montana.
Essentially, we were forced to divert along a wide arc around the north of Yellowstone Park, in order to enter the park from Gardiner, Montana.
The trip was by no means disappointing.  We drove through beautiful landscapes from beginning to end.  Lingering storms scrubbed at many of the highest mountains.  Fresh snow painted most peaks.  Inside Yellowstone, we saw all manner of game, including two black bear. 
Following are a few photographs from our drive.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 11, 2016

Rock Creek Resort

In Montana, it’s difficult to throw a rock without having it plunk into a creek named Rock Creek.  There seems a Rock Creek at every turn.  The Rock Creek in Granite County Montana, between Missoula and Philipsburg, is world renowned for trout fishing.  Another “notable” Rock creek is located in Carbon County, on the opposite end of Montana.
This writing is about the Rock Creek that crashes down from the Beartooth Mountains in Carbon County, near Billings.
Rock Creek Resort is located along the Carbon County Rock Creek, about five miles south of Red Lodge at the base of Beartooth Highway.  Beartooth Highway, is one of the gateways into Yellowstone Park.  Dare I say it, the most spectacular entry into the park.  Some people consider Beartooth Highway to be the most scenic drive in America.  This drive easily lands in everyone’s top ten.
First opened in 1936, the Beartooth climbs an astounding 10,947 feet high into the Beartooth Mountains before depositing you in Yellowstone Park.  By “climbs” I mean loops, twists, and hooks around.  This is rugged country.  The highest mountains in Montana are found in this vicinity.
A snowstorm hit the mountains last night.  Plows are presently clearing snow.  Hopefully we (six of us) will be driving over the Beartooth Highway in a few hours.  I reserved rooms at the Rock Creek Resort after reading dozens of very good reviews online.  I and all of my travelling companions love the place.  Rock Creek flounces along just below a private deck located outside our room.  The mountains surge up all around us.  The staff here are very professional and well organized.
The rooms were not expensive.
The Rock Creek Resort is owned and operated by Pepi Gramshammer and his wife.  Pepi is from Austria and was, at one time, a championship ski racer.  Pepi came here over forty years ago and fell in love with the mountains and Red Lodge Ski Resort is just down the road.
Posted is a photograph of that girl in in Red Lodge and a photograph of the Rock Creek Resort.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Texts from Mom

A few actual texts from the mothers of staffers working on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 9, 2016

After Much Deliberation

Approaching something from the wrong direction is still approaching.  I think we can put that in the win column.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 8, 2016

My Thoughts after Turning off the News

It doesn’t matter where you came from.  I don’t care.  And I don’t want much from you.  Offer me a kind word now and again.  Be nice to stray animals.  Tell me where the cliffs are before I walk off them.  Teach me the name of a plant or a stone.  Don’t tease someone about their appearance if they have no way to change their appearance.  Let someone in your busy lane of traffic now and then.  Wash the dishes when it’s not your turn.
That’s about it.
Just be nice, people.
Come home to the ones you love.
Tell them you love them.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Yesterday’s Rain

Arrived like a high school marching band, yesterday’s rain.  Cymbals clashing errantly.  Base drums pounding.
The marching band dropped from the bottom of zinc-colored clouds, fringed by lightning, and paraded across the prairie grass as songbirds lifted and disbursed ahead.
Across the prairie and down through the arroyos, marched the band.  Insistent.  Overwhelming.  Great fanfare in a dry land.
And then gone over the sage and juniper and pine tree hills.
In the quiet after-rain, bluebirds and hoppers resumed their chasing game.
Once more the big blue sky.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


If you know better than to feed sharks in the waters where you swim, why do you still feed the sharks inside you?
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

No Return on Investment

Kindness doesn’t cost a cent, but it can be as annoying as paying taxes when you are trying to maintain righteous indignation.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  A few hours later, on the same day, John Adams died.
Gone, two of our founding fathers and our 2nd and 3rd presidents.
Adams and Jefferson entertained one of the most unlikely friendships of all time.  During and after the forming of this great nation, these two men clashed politically, but came together as friends.
Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, advocated a weak central government and strong rights to the individual states.   John Adams put his faith in a strong centralized government.
Jefferson served as vice president under Adams.  He left that post embittered, seeing some of Adam’s governing as gross overreach.  Later, in a bitter political campaign, Thomas Jefferson won the presidency from Adams to become our 3rd president.
Theirs was an epic clash of ideas and political will.
Though these two men could have parted ways bitter until the end, they eventually came together as friends in later life.   On the subject of friends, Jefferson once said that he “never considered a difference in politics, in religion, or in philosophy, as a cause from withdrawing from a friend.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Return of the Red Ants

I have my reasons for not liking red ants.  Well, I have one, for sure.  The summer of the year I turned eight, a sharp pain struck my nether region.  Reacting as any mostly-normal eight-year-old by might, I dropped my pants to my knees to see what was going on down there.
And down there—having found the softest parts of a hairless young boy’s body—a red ant had clamped its mandibles onto my skin.  After much ill-conceived dancing around with my pants down around my ankles, I flicked the ant free.
I eventually got over my beef with ants.  I learned to appreciate them.  Ants, for one thing, are the longest living of all insects—some may live for thirty years.  If ants were the size of humans, they could lift a car into the air and carry it off.  Ant colonies are perfect studies in social structures and cooperative work.  Ants clean up debris and help make soil.  Research (Holldobler and Wilson, 1990) suggests that the combined weight of all ants on Earth may equal or exceed the combined weight of humans inhabiting Earth.
For the first twenty of so years that I lived out here at the lake, two large red ant colonies thrived on my property.  On several occasions, I had to save them from young boys with sticks and intentions to stir the colonies into oblivion.  Once, my neighbor, Leo, kindly offered to poison a colony out for me when he discovered it.  I declined his offer.  “I like them, I told Leo, “I would just as soon keep them.”
And then, one year, having reached the end of some normal cycle, both of my ant colonies died out.  That was five or six years ago. 
Yesterday, while walking the road that climbs up from the lake to my house, I stepped across a super-highway of red ants crossing the road.  After following the ants from end to end.  I discovered a new vibrant red ant pile about fifty feet off the road.  From the new colony, thousands of ants were scurrying back and forth on a trail that extended across the road and into a juniper bush.  The trail stretched something like eighty feet from the colony.  Ants returning to the colony were carrying both material for their pile and food stuff.
Bottom line: I like!
I have posted a photograph of the colony and a photograph of ants on the trail.  The photographs were captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 2, 2016


We sit by the river.  Occasionally, we throw in a stone, which the river hides.  Sometimes we throw in a stick and watch the river carry the stick away.  We imagine where the stick might go, imagine what the stick will see.  And the sticks that float past us from someplace upstream?  Those were someone’s dreams from yesterday.
Did they imagine us?

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 1, 2016

Black Baldy Stallion

A song by Robert Earl Keen.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the video posted here fails to launch, click on this link: