Tag Archives: Montana

Prairie Sagebrush Award 2011: preview n. 1

In June 2011, I select posts and photographs from my blogosphere that I think are fine examples of creativity. As a preview of the 2011 Prairie Sagebrush Award, I am posting a photograph by Montucky from his blog, Montana Outdoors. The current focus of his blog is photography. I’ve selected his picture of a female Rufous hummingbird as an example of his three foci areas of shutterbugging — landscapes, wildlife and close-up photography of plants. In the final awards, I will probably include all of his foci areas in the listing.

I quote from his blog, Montana Outdoors:

I am privileged to live in western Montana, close to the wilderness and roadless areas that I love so much, and I’m thankful that I am still able to venture up into them and spend much of my time there.

Most of the photos that I post are of scenes that cannot be seen from from roads or highways. There is a very beautiful world out there in the wild country and it is my wish to make it visible, by words and photographs, to those who are interested in enjoying it.

It seems that many folks have all but forgotten that we are part of that natural world and that ultimately it sustains us in both body and spirit. My hope is that we will have the wisdom and the discipline to preserve it for future generations, for once the wilderness has vanished, mankind will soon vanish as well. [“About,” Montana Outdoors, Montucky.]

Female Rufous hummingbird, photograph by Montucky of Montana Outdoors, August 8, 2010.

Montana falls within Northern Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountain system makes up the eastern flank of the great Cordillera that extends from New Mexico to Alaska. The Northern Rocky Mountains lies from Canada into Montana as a series of parallel ranges such as the Lewis, Flathead and Selkirk mountains.

Notes:

Montucky’s Montana Outdoors utilizes a full-grid reproduction of his photographs. The link for the photograph above is female Rufous hummingbird by Montucky of Montana Outdoors, August 8, 2010.

The link for last year’s award:  Prairie Sagebrush Award 2010: the full anthology with links.

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River lights contentment

 

River lights by Montana Outdoors, December 13, 2010.

Montana Outdoors is a photography blog and the above photo is one of many excellent shots of nature’s grandeur in winter.  Its author wrote the following in his introduction to his blog that has been published since 2006,

I am privileged to live in western Montana, close to the wilderness and roadless areas that I love so much, and I’m thankful that I am still able to venture up into them and spend much of my time there.

Most of the photos that I post are of scenes that cannot be seen from from roads or highways. There is a very beautiful world out there in the wild country and it is my wish to make it visible, by words and photographs, to those who are interested in enjoying it.

It seems that many folks have all but forgotten that we are part of that natural world and that ultimately it sustains us in both body and spirit. My hope is that we will have the wisdom and the discipline to preserve it for future generations, for once the wilderness has vanished, mankind will soon vanish as well.

Readers, you must go to Montana Outdoors website for it is a beautiful paean to all things, big and small, in the outdoors.

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In concord with Montana and the holiday season, Sam Travers, Christmas in the Old West: A Historical Scrapbook, has a note about Christmas at the Saleesh House in Montana in 1813, from the pen of trader Ross Cox,

Our hunters killed a few mountain sheep, and I brought up a bag of flour, a bag of rice, plenty of tea and coffee, some arrowroot, and fifteen gallons of prime rum.  We spent comparatively happy Christmas and, by the side of a blazing fire in a warm room, forgot the suffering we endured in our dreary progress through the woods.

* * *

From The San Saba News (Texas), December 15, 1883, here is a comment about Christmas and the progress of time,

Christmas is near at hand — two weeks from Tuesday — and each day between now and the great event will drag wearily away to the little folks.  What a pity it is men cannot experience on this day of peace and good-will to all the unalloyed happiness they did as boys.  But then years bring experience and ofttimes misery, and happy is he who can retain even until middle life a touch of boyhood’s pleasures.

The editor of The San Saba News wrote columns upon columns of prose each week for a frontier community far removed from trolley cars and opera houses.  In other news, the little town of San Saba celebrated Christmas by gift giving and church gatherings.  Several advertisements listed gifts men and women might enjoy, such as colognes and mustache cups.

Whether Montana or Texas, people seem to find a way to transcend their discontent by celebration and looking upon light from a river in winter.

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Notes:

The San Saba News from the nineteenth century is found on Chronicling America The Library of Congress link on the sidebar under small town newspapers in Texas.

I had pulled together the San Saba editorial and the Old West scrapbook piece for two separate posts, but when I came across River Lights by Montana Outdoors, I brought them together in one post.  I think we all find a way to get by the holidays, be it “prime rum” or family gatherings.  Since my family is scattered in Texas and Florida, I go to Santa Fe more often than not at Christmas.  This Christmas of 2010 I am not sure where my wife and I will be.  In any case, and this is my point, nature is outside my window and there I can find a measure of contentment — River Lights always beckon.  Always.

 

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Magpies Coming Day

Magpie photo by Martin Meyers of sierrabirdbum.com

COMING DAY.  A favorite among Fort Belknap Indians is Coming Day, who in 1937 was more than eighty years old and still maintained his reputation for fearlessness.  In his prime he rode joyously in the white man’s “devil-bug,” that sputtered and smoked and traveled like the wind without the use of ponies.  In August 1936, he boarded the white man’s “thunder bird” during the reservation fair and waved gaily to his quaking comrades.  When the plane was at an altitude of several thousand feet he exhorted the pilot in the Gros Ventre tongue to go higher.  “As yet,” he shouted scornfully, “we are not to the height where flies the common magpie!”

Montana: A State Guide Book, Works Progress Administration Guide Book Series (1939)

Fort Belknap sat on the lower lands of Montana, but the magpie inhabits the mountain, higher in elevation than the fort.  Coming Day spoke to that fact and more.  I have seen magpies at 9,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristos of New Mexico as I laboriously put one foot in front of the other, daring to the climb the Truchas Peaks.  The magpie is a creature of nature, the plane an invention of man, each finding ways to cut through air and soar.  Both bird and plane are worthy of praise, but for me and probably for Coming Day, the magpie will always fly higher.

* * *

Flying on an extended world vacation in the 1960s, Georgia O’Keeffe painted Sky Above Clouds IV after she returned to the United States.  It is her largest painting (8 x 24 feet) and is at the Art Institute of Chicago.  When I flew to France in 1996, I saw ice floes, glaringly-white, in the far North Atlantic that looked like clouds on the ocean, reminding me of O’Keeffe’s painting and stripes of white on magpie wings.

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Notes:

See also Archie Hobson (ed.), Remembering America: A Sampler of the WPA American Guide Series, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

In this quote are themes worthy of extended commentary — technology collides with Native American interpretation, native language re-describes new technology in colloquialisms and the valuable capture of local color in the American Guide Book Series by writers in the 1930s.

The published Montana guide book did not have a description of the plane that carried Coming Day into the sky, but the Waco biplane inserted below would have been a possible aircraft  since the Waco was being built in the 1920s, a decade before the Gros Ventre fair of 1936.

Waco biplane photo by Mike Fizer freylia.net (2003)

 

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