Category Archives: Travel

Three Cheers for the Weather – “Raw! Raw! Raw!”

I thought it was pretty at first, the way the fog rolled in over the bay and completely hid the water from view.

Foolish girl!

It rolled onto the lower beach areas and the land close to the water.

Smugly, I thought, “How pretty it looks, and how lucky am I to be living on higher ground in the clear blue sky.”

But pride comes before the fall. You might be able to see the mist lifting ever so slightly, rising up, looking for me.

Here it comes…

and here it stays, full of tiny droplets of ice water that almost freeze the air.

Carl Sandburg’s Chicago poem, “Fog,” made an impression on me the first time I heard it. He says it so simply, so “on the mark,” and with beautiful imagery.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

But …

I’m sorry, Carl. I find that very often, the last line of your poem doesn’t work for me, so I’ve had to change it.

 

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and stays and stays and stays and stays and stays… .

Anneli Purchase

The Wild Winds Weep

The wild winds weep

And the night is a-cold

Come hither, Sleep,

And my griefs unfold.

I wish I could claim this poem as my own creation, but I can’t. It is from a poem called “Mad Song,” by William Blake.

I was quite taken by this poem when I wrote my first novel of a coastal drama in which the wild weather played a significant role. That is why I used “The Wind Weeps” as my title.

I’m not trying to persuade you to click on the book cover image at the side for the free download of that book, but if you do, remember book two, “Reckoning Tide.”

It’s just that today the weather is so wild. The wind is crying out there,  whipping up the waves, just as it is in parts of my book.

Driving past Point Holmes on my way home from shopping, I stopped to take a few pictures. I had to hang onto the car door tightly so it wouldn’t rip off. A torn rotator cuff on a person is painful, but on a car door it would be  expensive  – so, also painful in a way.

It takes  a good stiff wind to give these waves foaming, frothy tops. In the photo below you can see a smooth line near the bottom of the picture. That is the paved boat launch ramp. No one is using it today for obvious reasons. No way I’d want to be tossing around in a small boat out there.

Even the little songbirds were looking for shelter. They swarmed in small clouds to and from the beach. Some flew in to land on the rocks and logs, but my photo doesn’t show the tiny birds well. I enlarged the photo to have a look (as you may be able to do by clicking on it), and I counted at least twelve small birds. It’s a tough time for them.

Those mountains in the distance should be clear and sharp. It is only around noon, but the sky is dark and full of raindrops flying sideways so the far shore is fuzzy and the mountains just a haze.

It’s too stormy out there for me. I think Emma has the right idea.

DSCN9323

Redheads

“Yikes!” This guy was caught red-handed – well, maybe more like red-headed – vandalizing the maple tree. Just look at the holes he’s put into the bark! I guess they make great toeholds for him.

Who would think there is something inside that bark that makes it so enticing for him?

“Hold on,” he says. “I think I can hear something wiggling around in there.”

“Mmyeahhhh … worth having a poke around.”

“There he is! I can feel him in there. Tasty little morsel … if I can only get him out of there. I’ll follow it up with a slurp of syrup from the sap.”

“Yum! That was good, but what a lot of work for a snack. Gotta take a breather for a sec.”

“What’s that you say?” He’s shocked that I’ve questioned him. “Holes in the bark? So what? There’s tons of them. What’s one more?”

“But don’t you see that if you keep going around in a circle you’ll soon ring the tree?”

“So…?

“Well, the sap has to go up and down the tree to keep it alive.”

“But I’m a sapsucker. Duh! It’s what I do!”

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I held so still for her when I saw she had her camera.  But enough is enough.”

“I’ll pose for this one last picture and then I’m off. I can always come back later, when her arm gets tired, or her eyes hurt from squinting against the sun, or – hee hee – when her battery dies. All that zooming really eats batteries. 

Now. Where was I? Oh yes, continuing on this line of holes my buddies and I were working on last week.”

The Thing About Oil

Whether we like it or not, we need oil products in our daily lives. The Calumet Specialty Products Partnership helps to provide them. Part of their production takes place in a refinery in the city of Great Falls, Montana.

As we descend from the low hills on our way from Havre to Helena, the city of Great Falls, Montana, sprawls in front of us. It is named for a series of five dams built nearby on the Missouri River, one of which helped provide the electricity needed to run the refinery.

The refinery is a landmark of the city, and its presence is hard to miss. But locals are glad for its existence as it provides many jobs and  much-needed products.

When we have passed through we have sometimes taken the city center route and other times the Northwest Bypass. Either way, the refinery is unavoidable and so is the smell.

What amazed me is that right across the street the Montana Club Restaurant and a little farther on, the Wal-Mart and several other businesses, are bustling with customers and doing very well.

Obviously the refinery was there first.

We all hear about pipelines and air pollution and the bad petro-chemicals these days, but oil is part of our survival. We need to eat, and farmers need machinery, and that machinery needs to be oiled and fueled. Vehicles people drive need gasoline and oil. Other by-products like paint, solvents, candle wax, cosmetics, and asphalt  are less necessary, but still convenient to have. Whether we like it or not, it is difficult to do without many of these products for our economy to function.

Finding ways of minimizing the impact of oil product manufacturing is an ongoing challenge, but the people of Great Falls are glad for the jobs and proud of the important products they provide.

 

American Beauty, or Land of Broken Dreams?

Montana is a beautiful state, at least in the spring, summer, and fall. I would not want to spend a winter in Montana (because … okay, I admit it, I’m a wimp). Their winters  are harsh.

Seeing so many abandoned buildings in this state, I have come to think of Montana as a land of broken dreams (for many). In pioneer days, people must have come to Montana with hope and enthusiasm. They built their homes and tilled the soil, and waited for the crops to grow.

Then came the winter, the loneliness, and the difficulty in traveling the mile or two  in harsh conditions for a sanity-restoring visit with the nearest neighbour.

What if you had an emergency, an accident, or your child was ill, and needed a doctor?

Is it any wonder that sometimes dreams turned into nightmares?

Some of these abandoned homes may have been left standing empty when a newer, more modern house was built nearby, but many simply became a place escaped from, left for the coyotes and pigeons to explore.

Here is one house that has seen happier days.

And here is another.

If only the walls could talk, what stories we would hear!

 

Casino

Are you a gambler?

Driving past a collection of houses, many of them uninhabited, I noticed the sign on one of the buildings: Lone Tree Casino.

Gambling casinos are typical of the businesses you find nowadays on  Reserves. Some of these establishments are huge monstrosities, looking out of place on the undeveloped land. This one is unpretentious. At first I thought it was a derelict building, no longer in use, but on reflection, I may be wrong.

It seems to be a desolate town, and for those who regularly visit this establishment, a sad way to spend the time in this windowless building. But that’s just my humble opinion.

There has been improvement though. No longer should it be called Lone Tree Casino. I see many trees in the area now.

What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!