Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Blue House

When we were small children we called the blue house just that, the blue house, and we ran past it without thought.
As we learned to ride bicycles, we plainly heard a man and a woman arguing in the house.  We began calling it the “shouting house” and we picked up the pace whenever we rode by.
One day, while learning to drive, I drove past the shouting house and saw police cars and swirling lights.
Murder.
The shouting woman went to jail.  The house fell into disrepair.  Ragweed and mustard grew up alongside the outside walls.  The weeds scratched at the walls when the wind blew.  We renamed the place the “weed house.”  I stopped looking when I drove by.
The other day, I drove past the house.
The house is blue.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Path

If what we become in life is based on what we do, I believe most of us are on the path to becoming cell phones.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Love Song

By midday even the sun is brightly drinking from the creek.  Nearby, passing work trucks slow to a crawl and claw around the corner of the county road.  Dust from the trucks rises only a little before sieving through the shade trees like ghostly scarves.
At the deepest hole in the creek, not far away, children count: “One…two…three…JUMP!”
In a splash, they find the water painfully cold and good.
They prance back out of the creek as quickly as they jumped in.
Another truck rolls by.
The children jump in.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

X,Y,Z, and Sometimes V

Prescription drugs in these United States have more than one name.  As a general rule, a drug is given an official (generic) name as well as a brand (trademark) name.  These names are usually nothing alike.  For example, the drug generically known as eluxadoline is marketed under the trademark name VIBERZI.  This drug is used for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, which is far less science-fictiony (my term) than it sounds.
I find the naming of drugs fascinating.
The generic names given to drugs are virtual explosions of syllables.  These names tend to be long and filled with pronunciation potholes.  Often, such names are a shorthand version of the drug’s chemical name.  All generic names must be approved by (I am not making this up) the United States Adopted Names Council.  The drug you know as Tylenol, by way of illustration, has an approved generic name of acetaminophen. 
Giving a drug a brand name is another story entirely.  This name is usually proffered by the company responsible for developing the drug. Brand names are meant to be catchy.  In recent years, drug manufacturers have been marching clear to the end of the alphabet before naming new drugs.  The letters X, Y, Z, and sometimes V are often included in brand names.  Examples include: Xifaxan, Zyrtec, Zerviate and my all-time favorite, Xyzal.
In the end, all of these drugs can all be pronounced “ik’spensiv.”
Personally, I would prefer a more folksy approach to naming drugs.  I think a name such as “Clamp-Tight” is perfect for a drug that prevents diarrhea.  Maybe “Nervending” could be taken to cease anxiety.  In the meantime, we seem only months away from taking XYZ to cure something, maybe everything.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Would You Think if I Sang Out of Tune?

The other day, on our drive home from Glacier National Park, that girl and I listened to the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM Radio.  That girl cranked up the volume on Hello, Goodbye and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  We sang along as high clouds flicked up and over the windshield of our car.   Wide, grassy scarps and endless green grain fields swelled as we neared them.  The mountains of the Rocky Mountain Front high-kicked and bucked along the horizon to our right.
“It’s so amazing I can remember the lyrics after all these years,” that girl commented.
I nodded in agreement.
Everything seemed fitting together as it should.
The Beatles are a singularity.  They are not a single season.  They are all seasons.
Funny, I should feel that way now.  I was seven when I first saw the Beatles playing I Want to Hold Your Hand on The Ed Sullivan show.  I immediately thought them silly and soapy.
I didn’t like them.
Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to The Beatles for the first few years.  Then I heard Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  That album—the first ever concept album—changed everything for me.  I began to listen, more importantly, to hear.
My love for the Beatles reaches back from that album and sprints forward from that album.  That is the nexus to all their music—traditional and experimental.
On we drove, the pair of us, under a sky that really is bigger than all others.  Singing along with the soapy songs and the surreal.  The hours somehow becoming only minutes.      

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Two Medicine

In simple terms, elevation in Glacier National Park varies from a low of 3,150 feet where the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River join together near Lake McDonald to 10,466 feet at the highest point of Mt. Cleveland.  But that only begins to tell the story.  Within the park you will find 6 peaks above 10,000 feet and some 32 mountains cresting above 9,100 feet.  Some of the most ancient sedimentary stone in North American can be found in Glacier National Park.  All told, 1.6 billion years of history can be read in the stone.  The story is one of sediment deposited by an ancient sea, sudden tectonic upheavals, and centuries of Ice Age glaciers carving deep valleys through the stone.
Today, the park is a place of sensory overload.  Masses of upheaved blocks of stone and sharp mountain peaks shred passing clouds or push them into high storms that stall and remain grappling with the stony formations.  Rivers and creeks roar as water somersaults down from the snowfields yet held at elevation.  Clear lakes reflect with mirror perfection.  This time of year, the air is perfumed by vast washes of ivory beargrass plumes.
I have never been able to “drive through” Glacier Park or the area surrounding.  My expeditions are, instead, comprised of a series of stops and brief wanderings from my car.  I try the impossible task of taking it all in.  To view.  To hear.  The feel.  To capture my experience within photographic images.
There exists, in my view, a level of scenic and spiritual beauty that cannot be exceeded.  Glacier Park is at that level.  Other places may reach that level (for example the redwood forests of California), but the level cannot be surpassed.
In a word: breathtaking.
Yesterday, that girl and I drove home by way of Marias Pass.  We stopped for lunch at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier and then diverted to Two Medicine before driving home under the big sky along the east side of the Rocky Mountain Front.  Posted are a few photographs from the day.

--Mitchell Hegman
Geologic information thanks to: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/education/geology.htm

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Polebridge, Montana

Polebridge, Montana, is the last remote outpost before the dirt road that brought you there climbs into the lower belly of the Canadian wilderness some 22 miles to the north.  The town boasts a population of something near 130 in summer and about 70 during the winter.  Two businesses are located in Polebridge.  Since you are still in Montana, one business is the obligatory bar: The Northern Lights Saloon (a simple log cabin).  The other business is Polebridge Mercantile.
That’s about it.
The Mercantile is just a bit over 100 years old.  Not much has changed in the last 100 years.  The “town” remains off grid.  You will not find cell service and, to date, no power lines have made their way in.   The limited power used by the business are provided by generators and, more recently, solar PV systems.
The mercantile bakes pastries that are to die for.   Sweets produced with the local bounty of huckleberries are most noteworthy.
The landscape around Polebridge is indescribably beautiful.  The tiny town is cradled between the heavily timbered Whitefish Range and the sharp and improbable stone peaks of Glacier National Park.  The North Fork of Flathead River runs big, fast, and aquamarine through the crooked valley between the mountains.
Yesterday, that girl and I drove to Polebridge and then drove on from there to the super-remote Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake inside Glacier.  Though the roads are rugged and unpaved, the trip is well worth the drive.  Posted today are some photographs from our day trip to Polebridge and beyond.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, June 16, 2017

An Adventure

That girl and I are presently staying in small cabin at Lake Five Resort.  The resort is just outside the West Glacier entrance to Glacier National Park.  The resort is located in a forest of tall tamarack and pine near the waters of a clear lake.  Bear grass is in full bloom in the understory all around us.  Some of the white plumes reach as high as my chest.
Our cabin does not have a bathroom.  To use the restroom or take a shower you must go on something of an adventure.  You must wander outside, navigating either a long boardwalk or a gravel pathway to reach the common bathroom.  Last night, in total forest darkness, I crashed into a wrought iron bench on the boardwalk while trying to reach the facilities.  This morning it is raining hard enough that I am considering wetting the bed to avoid the adventure.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Melting Sky

We experienced another fantastic sunset last night.  The sky to our northwest remained clear and gradually fell into deeper shades of blue as the sun slipped away.  To the northeast, a voluminous rack of clouds blushed red and orange.  The clouds seemed as if melting above the lake as they gradually oozed toward darkness.
Posted are a couple photographs I captured from just behind my house.












--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Crash Course

For some inexplicable reason, I awoke early this morning with this question on my mind: Why do we call a quick training session a crash course?
This question persisted in my mind as I fed my remaining 20 pounds of housecat and made my coffee.  As soon as I finished that, I fired up my computer and Googled for an answer.
Seems, oddly enough, that “getting a crash course” may have originated from a surprisingly literal meaning.  A thread at www.reddit.com/r/etymology quoted this excerpt from Knights of the Air, a 1929 history of aviation:
to demonstrate how pilots might crash and still escape injury.  The crash course, as Sperry outlined it, would have three stages.  The student would first crash into swamps, primarily to overcome the fear of crashing

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Altered Forest

On Sunday, my daughter and I spent an hour or so wandering through Sculpture in the Wild.  Sculpture in the Wild is a park filled with outdoor sculptures located in the native forest near Lincoln, Montana.  Artists from all over the world have been creating sculptures, using a mix of natural and manufactured materials, in the forest there since 2014.  
Entrance to the park is free.
I particularly enjoy how you are both enabled and encouraged to interact with the sculptures as you stroll the pathways through the woodlands.  Some works, you walk through.  Others you feel a need to touch or circle about in order to change how the sunlight, shadow, and surrounding landscape plays with the features.  Near the sculptures, visitors to the park often create their own simple works.  Stone cairns.  Arrangements of sticks.  A mix of both.
Wild animals walk through and feed in the park.
Posted today are three photographs from our wanderings through the park.  The photographs by no means capture the immensity or sensations of visiting the park in person.




--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 12, 2017

It Takes a Thief (Yellowstone Trip, Part Two)

If there exists a definitive list of dos and don’ts for camping, one of the “don’ts” near the very top of the list should be this: Don’t slam the keys to your locked car inside the trunk of said car.
Camping is, to begin with, a celebration of minimalism.  You set out with as few resources as you possibly require for survival and then try to survive for a few days at some remote location.  Hopefully (or not) a location without cell service.  Your car in such case is definitely a required resource.
While camping alongside the cabins at Campfire Lodge Resort with us (during a seemingly never-ending rainstorm), a person we shall refer to as X slammed the keys to their locked car inside the trunk of said locked car.  As mentioned at the outset, I am proposing a kind rule against this sort of thing.  Access to your car is critical while you are at any such remote location.
Once the keys are locked in the trunk, you are left with few options.
One option is to abandon the car, all belongings inside, and flee to a small city where you can easily stretch a dollar.  Another option is to call a locksmith (not a valid option when camping at a location without cell service).  A third option is to panic wholesale and run off into the woods breaking low-hanging limbs off trees as you go.  A fourth option is to take the road less-traveled.  What I mean by this is: Find someone with experience in breaking into locked automobiles.  Possibly the nearest car thief.
Though option number one had sparking possibilities (everyone enjoys stretching a dollar), the fourth option was chosen by X in this case.  As luck would have it, the camp “handyman” thought he might be able to “access the vehicle.”  He immediately found in his workshed a length of wire with a hook on the end and a crowbar.
By prying open the door just a little and fishing the wire down to catch the door lock knob, the handyman  managed to pull it up to unlock the door.  He did this, and I am not kidding here, in less than two minutes.
Happy, curious campers once more!
Honestly, I wish to thank our local handyman.  He refused all offers for a gratuity in exchange for his services and simply suggested we have a great rest of the day.  Last we saw of him, he was zooming off through the woods on his four-wheeler, ghost-like, not breaking a single branch along the way.
So far as his skills at accessing locked vehicles—the phrase ignorance is bliss comes to mind.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You Are in Bear Country (Yellowstone Trip, Part One)

Cabin 11 at Campfire Lodge Resort is located quite exactly where Cabin Creek flows into the Madison River.  This particular place is probably more interesting right now than normal.  For one thing, Cabin Creek is positively over-filled and violent with taupe-colored water.  By all appearances, a significant run-off is still at work within the steep mountains from which the creek originates.  I am also guessing a very recent storm of some intensity has also added rain water to the creek.
The creek is loud enough you cannot carry on a conversation while standing nearby.   The water flails at the banks and lashes at the bed of boulders along its chosen path.
The second interesting thing is that the Madison River is running clear.  Where the creek merges with the river, the beige water does not mix with the clear water of the river.   The river immediately below where the creek plows into the river has a clear half and a murky half.  The waters do not fully mix until reaching a bend further downstream.
Campfire Lodge Resort was established in 1922 and features several very rustic log cabins amid tall, riverside pines.  Cabin 11, for example, tilts considerably toward Cabin Creek.  To be fair, this may have resulted from the earthquake responsible for the formation of Quake Lake a few miles downstream.  That quake, in August of 1959, dropped some sections of land near Cabin Creek twenty feet as two gigantic tectonic plates within the Madison Range shifted at once.  The quake was responsible for the loss of 28 lives.  This cabin—as well as cabin 9 where I overnighted—offer a mix of technologies from every decade since 1922.
Posted everywhere you look around the resort are signs reminding you that “You Are in Bear Country.”  Food and garbage must not be readily accessible to bears.
I had to literally percolate coffee in the type of pot you set on the burner of a stove because our cabin does not have a modern coffee maker.
Here is a tip on percolating your coffee: just don’t do it.  At the very least, don’t walk away from the stove to tease your significant other while the “coffee” is “brewing.”   This kind of brewing process is something akin to catching Cabin Creek in a pot.  You know how creeks behave.  They are always splashing up and trying to get out.
Campfire Lodge Resort is, ultimately, a fun place to stay.  I am guessing most people would think this is exactly how Montana should look and feel.  In the end, you cannot ask for more than that.  
Posted is a photograph of one of the cabins at Campfire Lodge Resort and photograph of a fly fisherman at the place where Cabin Creek meets the Madison River.


--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Run

A song by Snow Patrol.
NOTE:  I may not be able to post blogs for the next few days.  If not, I will see you again on Monday!
--Mitchell Hegman
Alternate Video Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOBs8dU4Pb8

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Up the Mountain, Down Through the Wildflowers

That girl and I spent Monday at the cabin.  While there, I completed my “homemade” kitchen light (see the photograph below).  That girl finished installing blinds on a window and prepared for some extended stays this summer.
After finishing all of that early in the afternoon, we drove the Forest Service road up into the high stack of mountains above our little valley.  The road soon turned rugged and impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles.  I switched my truck into four-wheel-drive and crawled up the flanks of the Continental Divide—up the mountains through shattered remnants of blow-down trees that had slashed across the road and only recently been cleared by crews with chainsaws.
At the top, we walked to the edge of a clearing to take in the snowcapped mountains across the Blackfoot Valley.
With my truck in four-low, we trickled back down through cuts in the mountain stone, pine forests, green grass, and wildflowers.
Wildflowers are the thing.  I have trouble driving past them.  I have an innate need to stop for a closer look.  That girl and I must have stopped well over a dozen times so we could scramble from the truck and poke at the wildflowers.  Photographing flowers is among my favorite pastimes.
Posted are a couple photographs of blue virgin’s bower.  Though not as showy as some flowers, they have a striking shape.  They range in the mountain chains extending from New Mexico to Montana.  Also posted is a mixed patch of lupine and paintbrush, and, last but not least, a fairyslipper orchid.  Though not much larger than your thumbnail, fairyslippers are ever a show-stopper.











--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

All Signs

I’ve been adding things up:
—Always on the go.
—Forgetting important appointments.
—Running in place.
—Neglecting my own health.
According to an advertisement I recently saw, I’m a busy young mother with too much to do!

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Wall of Birdsong

Each morning now, as first light flutters up against the mountains to our east, I am brought awake by the collective of songbirds singing outside my house.  Though potentially discordant, with trilling meadowlarks upstaging chickadees and vesper sparrows lilting alongside bluebird’s twittering through their songs of dawn, the birds somehow manage a loud, sweet symphony.
I often remain in my bed for a few minutes, listening to the birdsong choir.  My house is just remote enough that beyond the immediate birds singing here there are other, more distant birds, singing.  Only rarely does extraneous noise bite into the morning music.
It satisfies me to listen.
This morning, as I lay near the open window of my bedroom, listening, I thought about the famous (now infamous) music producer, Phil Spector.  Spector, in shaping some of the greatest rock hits of the 1960s, created what he called a “wall of sound.”   In his own words, the music was “a case of augmenting, augmenting.”  Spector added strings, woodwind, and brass to rock songs.  He saturated every second of a song.  In the studio, Spector might overlay several instruments to create one sound.  He used multiple microphones at once.
The birds are something like that.  The first hour is a wall of birdsong.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wrong Number

I must admit, in some ways I miss our old telephone land lines.  I don’t miss the oversized, permanently tethered technology itself.  I don’t miss the clamoring ringtones.
I miss the randomness of wrong numbers.
Back then, because you had to dial numbers, rather than select them from a menu, you often dialed and received calls meant for someone else.  Inverting two numbers was common.
Years ago, on a fairly regular basis, a pair of inverted numbers from out there someplace often landed phone calls for “Rachel” on my phone.
I received enough of these calls that I eventually worked out a way to answer when I picked up the phone and someone asked for Rachel: “I’m sorry, Rachel is not here.  She just left.  But did you hear the good news?   She’s pregnant with sextuplets!  Goodbye.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Solving the Beer Problem

Few things fit together more naturally than metal music and beer.  This has been proven annually in Wacken, Germany.  Every August, the Wacken Open Air music festival attracts some 75,000 heavy metal music devotees and enough bands to keep playing for three days.
The problem has been beer.
Not enough beer, I mean.
On average, over the course of the three-day event, each festival attendee consumes more than a gallon of beer.  This year, festival organizers completed a permanent infrastructure project to solve the beer shortage problem.  A four-mile underground beer pipeline was installed to provide a constant source of beer.  The pipeline operates with enough pressure to pour six beers in six seconds.
In the unlikely event some metal festival goers want water, a pipeline for water was also routed to the festivals grounds.
--Mitchell Hegman

Photo: Wacken Open Air

Friday, June 2, 2017

Coffee

Here is my morning thus far:
My television will not output sound.  I can see talking heads, but they are silent.
A mouse got inside my house and has been flinging itself along the baseboards of my living room and den.  After watching the mouse dart behind my entertainment center, I located my remaining 20 pounds of housecat, scooped him up, and placed him at the spot where the mouse disappeared behind the entertainment center.  He immediately freaked out and trotted off to the door and meowed to get out.
I had to shut down my undersink water filtration system because the flow control started to screech and moan.  Seriously, it did.  Sounded like an entire haunted house.
My internet service is intermittent.  Yesterday, I placed a call to my provider.  Seems I need a new wireless router.
It has been a rough first hour over here.
Coffee…at least I have that going for me!

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It’s a Small World

I just watched a big red ant go limping past my left foot.  The big red and was limping because a small red ant had clamped onto one of the big red ant’s rear legs with its mandibles and was clinging on like a sort of living ball and chain.
Honestly, the big red ant didn’t seem bothered in the least by the little black ant.  Off to the far horizon limped the big red ant, dragging along the small black ant. 
Almost human.

--Mitchell Hegman