Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Early and Late Flights

I woke early this morning, started coffee brewing, and then stepped outside to sit in the hot tub.  All around me, moths were haphazardly fluttering about.  They know their time is running out.  They need to copulate and set the stage for another frantic late summer dance next year.
Looking up, I saw the constellation Orion standing on the edge of my roof.  Formed by some of the brightest stars in our sky, Orion (the Hunter) was peering out across the mountains and sweep of sky holding me in place. 
Neither ancient Orion nor the frenetic and ephemeral moths took notice as a jetliner appeared among the stars and streaked toward Minneapolis or Chicago.  I watched the blinking lights cross over until one of the moths slipped in mid-flight and nearly tumbled into the hot tub alongside me.
I would have fished the moth from the water and allowed the moth to flutter on.  In the long run, there is likely no significant difference between the flight of the moth and the flight of the jetliner.  We all seem migrating toward the sixth great extinction.
Some of us more proactive about our own demise than others.
Strong and solid as Orion is by night, each morning he quickly dissolves into daylight.  Just as easily, a wispy cloud might wipe Orion away.
By full daylight today, I will find most of the sky heavy and stained by smoke from wildfires that are not distant enough.  The moths will stumble away and hide one by one—maybe to be replaced by a murder of crows.
The crows mad and boisterous.  The crows keen on extinction.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In Lyrics

Sometime ago, I concluded that all universal truth regarding the human condition can be found in the lyrics of songs.  I was listening to Bob Dylan at the time.  It was very late at night.  I was recently out of love and more than a little drunk.
I carried that thought forward.
Only now, am I having doubts about universal truth being found in lyrics, because, frankly, uptown funk you up.
Uptown funk you up.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, August 29, 2016

To the Dam and Back

Hauser Lake is, technically, the Missouri River held captive by the concrete wall of Hauser Dam.  Hauser Dam number two, actually.  The first dam—which was made of steel—came apart in 1908, sending a massive surge of water downstream.  The “lake” is comprised of two serpentine arms.  The main body is the old Missouri River Channel through the Big Belt Mountains.  The other channel is where Prickly Pear Creek once wallowed through the shale hills to reach the river.
I live on the creek arm, what we call the Causeway arm.
Yesterday, that girl, my sister, Kevin, and I pushed my pontoon boat into the water and cruised from my place up the base of Canyon Ferry Dam—the first of three dams holding the Missouri River into three lakes.  Holter Lake is below us.  Canyon Ferry above.
Cruising along at pontoon-boat speed, the trip took about an hour each direction.  The channel is ever-turning and mostly sided by mountains.  The girls sat in the front, enjoying the summer’s end sun.  Kevin and I sat in the shade of the Bimini cover, drinking coffee beer.
A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I am posting a few photographs I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.  In one of the photographs, taken near Canyon Ferry Dam, you can clearly see the shorelines cut into the mountainside by ancient Lake Missoula.  Lake Missoula formed at the end of the last ice age, something near 12,000 years ago.  The lake formed when ice created a temporary dam where the Clark Fork River entered Idaho.  The lake grew to be something akin to the size of one of the Great Lakes.  At some points, Lake Missoula was nearly 2,000 deep.  The ice dam eventually failed in spectacular fashion, carving out what is now the Columbia River Gorge.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lake of the Returned Sword

Posted today is a photograph of Lake of the Returned Sword.  I captured this photo by setting my camera on a retaining wall while walking around the lake on the way to dinner in the spring of 2009.
Lake of the Returned Sword is found in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam.  Though surrounded by streets filled with motorcycles, trucks, cars, and pedestrians, the lake is a place of singular calm.    
I posted a landscape version of this subject several years ago.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Your grandmother is dead.
This hits you at once—like slamming your fingers in a car door—as you sit watching television in a darkened room.  The pulsing light from the television crawls on you.   A man on the screen says a single word.  “No,” he says.
“No,” you repeat.
The movie has nothing to do with your grandmother.  The movie is about a dog.  Your grandmother has been gone for years.  But the pain is now.
The pain is big.
You remember a frigid winter morning.  So chilly, you felt the cold squeezing and pushing to get inside your grandparent’s crooked old house.  You sat on a stool near the gas stove in the kitchen, bathing in heat.  The heat waves crawled on you.  Sitting at the table nearby, your grandmother was laughing.  “No,” she said, finally.
Most of the details are gone now.  You were not yet eighteen then.
No, your grandmother had not heard the funny story about the naked boy who crashed into a locked door while trying to streak through the pizza parlor where you worked after school.
Sitting on your sofa, you hook tears away from your eyes with your index finger.  You are wondering if you are remembering the sound of your grandmother’s laughter correctly.  It’s important that you remember the exact sound.
Last week, raucous flights of geese started migrating south, skimming right over your house.  Statistically, your life is well beyond half-over.  On television, the dog is dead.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mr. Potato Head

What if there really was a Mr. Potato Head?  And what if he stole your girlfriend?  He wouldn’t be so funny then, would he?
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Quick Solutions to Common Problems

Problem: Wind keeps blowing the door closed.
Solution: Close the door yourself.
Problem: The sound of water dripping in your sink annoys you.
Solution: Fill the sink with towels.
Problem: Stuff keeps falling from your pant pockets as you drive in your car.
Solution: Drive naked.
Problem: You think an evil spirit is occupying the bottom half of the liquid soap dispenser in your guest bathroom.
Solution: Check with the internet and go with the first solution you find.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reasons I Cannot be President

I cannot be president of the United States.  I checked with the internet to make sure.  For one thing, I am not tall enough (too short, for those of you from my plain-speaking town of East Helena, Montana).  I will spare you (me, for those of you that are not me) the details on that, other than to say, it’s a perception thing. 
Another thing that will destroy my chances for president is reporters.  They would ask me questions.  I would give them Mitch answers.  Mitch answers are the first thing that come to mind.  If, for instance, reporter X asked, “What do you most admire about women?”  I would answer: “Their butt.”  And then I would need to walk all over myself  trying to explain that I meant to say I admire how women are consensus builders and women usually won’t punch you in the face.  And…well…never mind!
I dig holes.
That’s what I do.
I am not convinced that I can be trusted with the nuclear arms button, either—especially if they have it located anywhere near a light switch or a garage door button.  I am always flipping the wrong switch when I am confronted with two or more of them.  The garage door buttons?  Forget about it!
There are plenty more reasons why I cannot be president, including the fact I don’t wear underwear.  I’m sure that will matter to someone.  I also display poor judgment by living with 40 pounds of housecat.
Vice president?
I think that’s a workable deal.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I think I am going to start hot-tubbing a bit later in the mornings.  The early birds are starting to make sense.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, August 22, 2016


The thin boy wrote a love poem for Lily on a scrap
torn from a Budweiser beer twelve-pack box.
Mostly, she noticed the shape of the scrap.
Africa, almost.
She imagined giraffes
which seemed like experimental animals to her.

Lily grew cold when she read the poem.
The thin boy had misspelled “ravishing.”
“You’re ravashing,” he’d written.
Lily imagined giraffes ungainly clomping away,
their necks swaying absurdly.

The thin boy once told Lily that love had no cure.
What did that mean, she wondered?
On the back of the poem she found the word “beer.”

Lily didn’t like beer.
And love?  She didn’t know where to begin.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Week in Photographs

Posted today are three photographs I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone over the last week.  One photograph was taken from my dock early in the morning.  The baneberry and the fireweed photographs were taken high in the Rocky Mountains northwest of here.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our Man, Our Lady

For most people, spending their retirement years volunteering at a food bank for the less fortunate might be the most magnanimous gesture they could imagine.  But that is just a side note for Bob O’Bill.  Both he and his wife, Joyce, volunteered their time to help operate the Butte Emergency Food Bank.
Bob O’Bill, a humble electrician, did something bigger.  Much bigger.  When you drive into Butte, Montana from any direction you will see what he did.  High within the stony mountains of the Continental Divide, towering over the city on the east side, stands Our Lady of the Rockies with her arms outstretched.
Our Lady is pure white and made of iron.  She stands 90 feet tall atop a rocky ridge over 8,000 feet above sea level.
Back in the late 1970’s, Bob’s wife was battling cancer.  Bob prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary for her recovery.  He promised to build a small statue of the Virgin Mary in his yard if his wife recovered.  Upon his wife’s recovery, Bob O’Bill went to work.  Soft-spoken and inordinately driven, he shared his vision and began to motivate the citizens of Butte.
Plans grew.
Work on the Our Lady project began in December of 1979 and did not stop until the Army National Guard used a giant air-crane helicopter to lift sections of the statue into place in December of 1985.  Most of the materials and all of the work was donated by the townspeople of Butte.
I had the pleasure of talking with Bob O’Bill on a couple of occasions.  I met him at the food bank in Butte.  We mostly talked about electricity.  Frankly, we talked about people getting knocked on their ass by the stuff.
He had stories, Bob O’Bill.  But never a bad word.
Bob died last Sunday.  That big heart of his finally did too much and failed.         
His friend, Bob Griffith, probably summed Bob O’Bill’s life the best: “There were givers and takers—and he was a giver.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, August 19, 2016

What’s Inside Your Walls?

If you were to walk into my house and start tearing walls apart—and please don’t—you would find all kinds of interesting items inside the walls.
I constructed my own house in 1991.  Working weekends and every evening after finishing my day job, with the help of friends, I brought my home from the ground up.  Early into construction, I and some of my friends began signing our names to pieces of lumber as we nailed them in place.  Occasionally, an empty Copenhagen smokeless tobacco can, or some other trinket would be fixed to a wall stud or roof truss. 
When my wife’s birthday came in June of 1991, we were rolling roof trusses into place.  A bunch of us signed a “happy birthday” truss before we lifted it from the ground and nailed it into place.
Prior to drywalling the house, I placed a host of items in the hollows of some walls: photographs, notes, a few coins.
Yesterday, a local window shop replaced the three windows in the living room bay.  As the two installers pried the old windows from the rough openings and scraped away the insulating foam, writing on the wood framing began to appear.
The writing was from twenty-five years ago.  Almost to the exact date.  I remember the day.  My sister Debbie and her friend Cheryl were wandering around the place, half-drunk.  Cheryl, if memory serves, had mistakenly applied Heet liniment, instead of deodorant, to her underarms.  The girls wandered around the construction site, giggling, Cheryl flapping her overheated arms.  After watching the girls wander through the mostly skeleton house for a while, I found a pen and suggested that they write a few things on the bay window framing.
Yesterday, the writing emerged.
I am posting two photographs I captured of the writing.  Before the two installers covered the writing again, I urged them to sign their names and date on the framing for the next opening. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, August 18, 2016

At Final Elevation

As huckleberry season draws near the end, those of us seeking them (insert my name here) must climb to higher elevations.  Berries at lower elevations simply peter out.  Often, you must also venture into vastly more rugged country to fill your bucket.  The other day, I read an article about huckleberries where a guy—
That girl thinks I am overly-obsessed with huckleberries.  She thinks I should write about the woodpecker that electrocuted (I mean smoked) itself atop the power pole feeding wires into Kevin’s house.  The bird knocked out his power.
That girl may have a point about my obsession.  For about a month every summer, I am all about huckleberries.  I seek them.  I pick them.  I talk about them.  I read about them.  Well…please consider this paragraph as both my admission and apology to that girl that I am mildly to maniacally obsessed with huckleberries.
So—getting back to my topic—I read about this guy from northwestern Montana who is also crazy about huckleberries.  He chases the berries to higher and higher ground as the season goes on.  By the end of the season, he engages in what he calls “one-handed picking.”  One-handed picking is where you climb up into berry patches thriving in such steep and remote places you must hang onto something with on hand and pick with the other.
My friend Arnold and I did just that the other day; we went one-handed picking.  We breast-stroked through tall brush.  We clambered up and down ridiculously steep inclines.  We flopped ourselves over fallen trees and crawled in and out of holes.  Each of us took a nasty dive down a steep gradient but came up intact.
And we got some berries along the way.  Thus ended one more season.
Thank you, huckleberry gods!
I have posted a couple photographs of Arnold that I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rude Awakening

I am in one room this morning.  One of my teeth is in a plastic sandwich bag in another room.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spotted Knapweed Must Die

A friend once remarked to me, after hearing me complain about battling knapweed on my undeveloped property: “If something is green and it grows, I don’t worry about it.”  I can still see him shrugging his shoulders.  “It’s green,” he emphasized once more, “that’s all that matters.”
I have always been the overly-sensitive worrier of the bunch.  As a kid, I checked the exact air pressure in my bike tires with a gauge while everyone else checked by squeezing the tire for firmness.  I sacrificed pleasure spending in favor of auto insurance during high school.  Today, zika virus is on my radar.     
But spotted knapweed is something my friend, you, and I all need to worry about.  Spotted knapweed is insidious.
Knapweed is an invasive biennial or perennial that looks similar to a bachelor’s button flower.  Originally from Eurasia, spotted knapweed thrives in Montana’s sunny and well-drained landscapes—especially our wildlands and wildland interfaces.  A knapweed plant might reach up to five feet in height in favorable conditions.
Here is the big problem.  Spotted knapweed is a killer.  This weed quickly creates a monoculture and eliminates competition from grasses and forbs by distributing its own natural herbicide called “catechin.”  Equally as disturbing, an average knapweed plant produces 25,000 seeds.  These seeds might remain viable on the ground for up to eight years.    
Knapweed, if given a chance, will absolutely take over.  Our range animals and wildlife do not prefer to eat knapweed.  And when spotted knapweed was accidentally introduced to North America over a century ago, its natural controlling enemies—mostly insects—did not arrive with the weed.
While pulling spotted knapweed and some biological agents (introduced insects) can be helpful in controlling small infestations, large invasive cultures must be sprayed with herbicide.  I am no fan of herbicides as a general rule, but spotted knapweed must die.
I have been battling knapweed at my mountain property for many years.  Tomorrow, I am meeting a contractor to arrange for some “selective spot” spraying on a few new “flares” of knapweed.  I have posted a couple of photographs of knapweed for those of you unfamiliar with this weed.

--Mitchell Hegman


Monday, August 15, 2016

Crossing the Threshold

I often joke that my 40 pounds of housecat shed hair on everything.  Yesterday, an interesting threshold was crossed in that regard.  While sitting on the sofa, I noticed a rather large dark spot on the wall opposite me.  When I walked over to investigate, I found a mouse-sized clump of cat hair clinging to the wall about a foot above the floor.
Up next: the ceiling.
Thank you, 40 pounds of housecat.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Story of X

X wants to go to Norway.  People there jump from high rock faces while wearing flying squirrel suits and sail off across the sky.
That’s something to see.
Sometimes, the flying people smack into the ground or other cliffs and shatter apart like icicles.  After all, it’s still a grim world and people are not meant to fly, not even in Norway where X wants to go.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, August 13, 2016

No Place for a Child

My friend told me he didn’t think he wanted to bring a child into the world these days “because of the shape the world is in.”
“You mean on account of it being round and spinning in space?" I asked.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, August 12, 2016

What’s in the Sky?

Last night, Keven, Tad, and I sat on my deck and watched the sky as the Perseid meteor shower put on a display.  We saw dozens of meteors streaking across the night.  There are other amazing events in our skies.  I have posted a video as example.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the video posted here fails to launch click on the following link:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sex and the Gingko Tree

I guess it’s time for us to have a sex talk.  Forget the birds and the bees.  We need to talk about trees.
Trees are sexy.  Well, maybe not so much sexy as sexual.  Some trees are boy trees.  Some trees are girl trees.  Some trees can change their sex.  Some trees are a mix of boy and girl.
Tree sex involves flowers, which are the female private parts, and pollen, the male contribution.  Bees, other insects, some animals, birds, and the wind tend to get involved in the transfer of sexual materials (pollen delivered to flowers) when trees are sexually active.  On rare occasion, close dancing and a Bee Gees song from the 1960s might end up in the mix.
Trees having a definitive sex are called dioecious or dicots, meaning “two in separate houses.”  Boy trees tend to be somewhat annoying when sexed-up.  They are the pollinators.  Boy trees stir-up allergies for those suffering such.  Girl trees, on the other hand, produce pretty flowers and bear fruit.  At the same time, they tend to be a bit messier (sometimes a whole lot messier) because of the fruit they produce and then drop.  Landscapers tend to favor male trees in urban landscapes because they are “less mess.”
I will leave the snide remarks about male landscapers choosing male trees to you.
A final note on male trees: During times of ancient Arabic conflicts, warring tribes would sneak into the date palm groves of their enemy and destroy the male trees.  The female trees, which vastly outnumbered the male trees, would then be left with no way to produce their valuable fruit.
Some trees can change their sex.  I read in The Guardian that the oldest known tree in the UK is, at present, undergoing a voluntary sex change.  The tree, the Fortingall Yew in Penshire, is thought to be as much as 5,000 years old.  Botanists considered the tree a male.  Just recently, however, this boy tree started producing a girl’s berries.  Gingko biloba trees have also been known to change their sex.  This is also common behavior for some bushes and plants.
Some trees, as a way to simplify the whole sex thing, produce both boy and girl parts.  Such trees are called monoecious or monocots.  Here, the sex is in “one house”.   They are not exactly self-pleasuring themselves, for those of you with dirty minds (Yes, I am talking to you, East Helena, Montana).  The wind, insects, a bird, or some animal is usually involved in the pollinating process.
Most trees are monocots.
Interestingly, pines are technically neither dicot nor monocot.  They are without flowers and in a sexual class of their own: conifers.  But that is for another day.    
Remember what I said about trees being sexy?  There is even a human twist to this.  Some people like trees.  I mean they LIKE trees, if you get my drift.  The sexual attraction to trees is termed “dendrophilia.”  Granted, I like golden willow trees quite a bit.  But I don’t have any specific urge to sex one up.  For one thing, I hardly know where I might begin.  I mean, a guy can get splinters just by walking barefoot across a wooden deck.

--Mitchell Hegman
PHOTO: James Field

SOURCES: The Guardian,,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pink Rain

For the last few days, brawling thunderstorms have come and gone through our skies.  A couple evenings back, just before sunset, the sky above my house boiled with turbulent clouds.  As I watched, misty rain descended like pink curtains above the prairie.
I grabbed my camera and ran outside to capture the images posted today.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Memory Improvement Trick

If you want a man to remember something, figure out a way to associate what you want remembered with the man catching his penis in the zipper of his pants.
He’ll remember.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, August 8, 2016

Strange Trees

The difference between trees and humans is that nobody cares if a tree identifies as both sexes.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Almost Human

I think my 40 pounds of housecat are almost human.
Not the shedding part.  Not the pooping in a box part.  Not the licking their butt-hole part, though, to be fair, some of us would be giving that a go if we could.  Not the gacking-up hairballs part.  Not the clawing at the carpet part.  Not the—
Did I say almost human or annoying?

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Yesterday, I had a conversation with Lilly.  Lilly is seven years old.  We talked about the usual things: her big sister, rainbows, sandhill cranes, a kitty app for her cell phone, and huckleberries.
The huckleberry part of the conversation was my idea.  I tried to talk about Scotch whisky, but she would not have it.
When she mentioned something about a song from the movie Frozen—she knew all the words—I said: “I have never seen Frozen.”
Lilly was aghast.  She opened her mouth and swayed her head back.  “You have NEVER seen Frozen?”
I am sure she wondered how a human on her favorite planet could survive without Frozen.  Did I not breathe the same air?  Was I missing a heart?  Brain Damage?  That was the first time in my life that I felt perfectly awful about not seeing the movie Frozen.  I was completely out of her frame of reference.
Apparently, sixty is not the new seven.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Avoid Bear Attacks

Experts suggest that to avoid bear attacks you should walk through the woods only during bankers’ hours and you should make noise.  There are other ways to avoid bear attacks.  My father spent his entire life at the bar drinking beer.  He was never attacked by a bear.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Needing Rain

I sit under a yellow sky in red shadows and observe as a small wasp of some kind swoops down and grabs a smaller wasp on a nearby blade of grass.  The larger wasp pins the smaller to the blade. I cannot tell if the pair are braced for the death of the smaller wasp, or if they are copulating.
What’s the difference in time extended?
The shoe left yesterday to dry on our front walk this morning cradles a sprawling web and a leggy spider.  I am not fond of spiders—especially shoe inhabiting spiders.  But I leave the spider undisturbed.  I lack the energy to challenge the spider.
High above, the sun is ochre, dulled by the haze of forest fires burning through the mountains to our west.  Over the last few weeks, several fires have stumbled through the timbered ravines there.  Some have flared dramatically and destroyed homes.
20 pounds of housecat emerges from the tall, cured brome grass just outside my fence and saunters through the yard toward me while heat waves warp the mountains behind him.  I watch the cat for a while.  Slow and deliberate.  Sniffing a new scent left on the concrete, my shoe, the spider in the shoe.  All around him, things desire water.  The standing needle-and-thread grass.  The more distant bull pine.  The rolling sage hills.  The vaulting, grizzled sky.  All thirst for water.
The cat flops down beside me, deflates as only cats can.
A yellow sky is never good.  This kind of sky is no canvas upon which we might fix any of our pretty ideas.  An orange sun is no gem.
I have over 100 television channels to watch.  Over a dozen rape and murder channels.  Shopping channels.  Naked people channels.  Cartoons.  Countless channels with politicians promising some kind of nebulous change.
Not the change I want.  I want something to change in this hot, empty sky.  So I watch, waiting for the arrival of just one heroic raincloud.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another Day in the Woods

Not much time this morning.  Just going to share some images following yesterday’s trip to the high mountain huckleberry patch.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Downside to Motivation

I think most of us will agree that motivation is, generally, a good thing.  Motivated people built the bridges we cross.  Motivated people help us change flat tires.  It was a motivated person who invented paper clips.
I love paper clips.  Especially the colored ones.
But there is a downside to motivation.  Some people are motivated to place flaming bags of feces on porches and then ring the doorbell.  Other people are motivated to answer the doorbell and then stomp on the flaming bags on their porch.
And then there is Tony Robbins.  You know the guy.  Motivational Speaker.  Freakishly tall.  Smile like a row of Greek columns jammed into a cave.
Mr. Robbin’s held one of his motivational seminars in Dallas last month.  As part of the event, Robbins invited attendees to walk across a bed of hot coals.  The idea was to encourage folks to overcome their fears.
You know where this is going, right?
Depending on what source you read, some thirty or forty people ended up with burns on their feet following their walk over the coals.  Five people were treated at a hospital.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, August 1, 2016

Huckleberry Taste Test

I am a finicky eater.
Somehow, that is an understatement.
The list of what I do not like to eat is long and varied.  Sometimes, the texture of foods will bother me.  Think the skin of peaches here.  I find both the color and texture of guacamole too much for me.  I cannot abide the taste of mustard or green peppers.  I would just as soon kick a cantaloupe as eat one.
And I am just getting started here.
I am further picky by category and sub-category in the foods that I do like.  For example, I love white nectarines, but will not eat regular red ones.  I have even gone so far as to develop a finicky attitude about huckleberries.  And I love, love, love huckleberries.  I can smell the powerful aroma of huckleberries and taste them just by writing these words.
As a point of fact, there are several species of Vaccinium (huckleberry) growing in Montana.  Peter Stickney, a huckleberry expert from the University of Montana, has identified seven species here.  They all vary in flavor to some degree.
I am not savvy enough to know what species I am picking.  But I know what I like.   For the sake of ease, I will divide the berries I pick by color: red, white, and blue.  American-flaggy-like.  For all I know they may be from the same species.
I like all huckleberries.  Let me assure you that.  But I love that certain big flavor of some huckleberries.  The flavor I am talking about gives you the same feeling that you might get seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or landing your first backflip on snow skis. The flavor is that big, that exceptional.  The flavor is easily as complex as that of a fine wine.  A perfect mix of bite and sweet finish.
I taste-test berries from most of the bushes I consider picking—always seeking the big flavor.  Most of the bushes I find display either berries that are bluish in color or a deep red.  By a large margin, the bluish huckleberries tend to better satisfy my sensibilities.  They have a sweeter finish.  During an off year of production, I will pick almost any berry.  But if berries are plentiful, I taste-test almost every bush and pick only those I really like.
And then there is the rare white huckleberry.  These berries are pink to almost white in color.  I have only found them three times in all my years.  I discovered them only in small patches.  The first time I found some, I thought they were some form of grossly immature berry.
I gave them a taste test.
Perfectly sweet at the start, through the middle, then a huckleberry finish!  The best flavor in the world!  I picked all that I found with my berry-stained fingers.  After much research I found only a couple of short articles on the internet that mentioned them.  The Moby Dick of huckleberries.
I have not tasted a white huckleberry in the last eight years.  But I am always seeking them, scouring the rugged mountainsides, swimming through the thick brush.  They are out there.
Part of the allure for huckleberries is that they can difficult to obtain.  To date no one has been able to cultivate them commercially.  They are found only in the wild.  Huckleberries are nearly as finicky as me.  They require a certain mix of sun and shade, of moisture.  In the moist reaches of the Pacific Northwest they thrive in open areas.  They prefer acidic soil—often found in the ashy soils following fires.
Finicky from beginning to end.

--Mitchell Hegman