Sunday, May 31, 2009

First Aid

What started out as a hike



soon turned into a run




that ended in a fall.



Papa came to the rescue, stopping the tears.



But it was a sister that brought out the smile.






Friday, May 29, 2009

Up Close and Personal















Thursday, May 28, 2009

Skid Row

One of our good friends here is a logger.



He's the manly, rugged, old-school kind of logger that uses Clydesdales to pull the logs once he's felled them.


His method of logging is extremely low-impact. After he finishes his logging, he goes back over the skid row trail with a pick-axe, creating places for the water (and melting snow) to run so that it doesn't take over the fresh trail and create a river or wider trail of its own. And within thirty days, grass is growing in the trail and the impact is minimal.


Quite unlike the huge logging operations that create permanent roads with their machinery.


And we happen to think his machinery is absolutely magnificent:



Pat and Bonnie were from different teams originally, but Pat was on the right in his old team and Bonnie was on the left in her old team. They work very well together.



They are hitched up to a harness that is then hitched to a log. The logs can be heavy or light (depending on if the tree was alive or dead), and there is always an element of danger. The horses could get spooked and take off, the log could break free, the logger could get entangled in the line. Before he begins skidding, the logger sets up a line of logs along the downhill side of the trail. This ensures that the log that is being dragged doesn't get caught on a tree or pull the horses downhill.


The work is grueling.






And the logger? He runs along behind them, holding the reins and yelling out instructions, like, "Cross-over" (letting them know he is crossing from one side to the other behind them) and the most important of directions, "BREAK!"



Regular breaks are given (2-4 times per log on this trail). The horses and the logger use this time to catch their breaths.


We used this time to ask questions and love on the horses.





Our friend is a wellspring of knowledge of all things related to nature. He even told us that the line separating the fields in the background of these pictures is a direct result of animal grazing -- grazed fields are greener. The "line" is the fence.





And he's one of the best storytellers I've met. We enjoyed hearing about his early days of logging, and how the establishment of trust was the most important factor determining his success with his team.





The day left quite an impression on Benjamin (7):


(This is Bonnie, which any observant person can tell from the docked tail . . . )

Sunday, May 24, 2009

York-Nelson-Hogback Lookout

Ugh. This post is so overdue it's hard to know where to start.


Or, as Ethan would (and just did) say, it's so overdue it's retarded.




The Saturday before Mother's Day, Ethan told me I could pick anywhere I wanted for lunch on Sunday. I knew I didn't want to "go out" to eat. I wanted to GO OUT. Eating in a nice restaurant with six children post-church but pre-nap is, well, a flagrant waste. So I took to the googling and decided that I wanted a nice drive somewhere we could take the dog and the kids could run and have fun or not have fun and nobody could hear their fussing.


The York-Nelson-Hogback Lookout sounded perfect. So we planned to come home from church, grab some comfy clothes and the dog, and head out.


But even before we left for church in the morning, everyone gathered around to give their way-overboard presents: a serene "Fresh Outdoors" candle, some sandalwood potpourri balls in an ultra-chic wooden holder, chocolate (which quickly disappeared) and a new camera. A new camera!!


And after church, we headed out.



The drive there was amazing, one of those hold-your-breath-and-pretend-there's-a-guard-rail kind of drives. One thing I love about Montana is that you can drive thirty minutes away and see drastically different scenery. But most all of it involves narrow dirt roads and does not involve guard rails. It just heightens the whole "flirting with death" factor. (I'm just kidding. Not about the roads and rails, but about flirting with death. Ethan is a very capable driver, and we were nowhere near death. Relax, Mom.)


The Internet page said to "watch for mountain goats and mule deer" along the way. Mule deer are no biggee for us (we see 20-50 deer anytime we go into town and often have a few in the backyard -- we have even more when we remember to stock the deerbirdfeeder). But I had only seen mountain goats one time, and that was in Alaska. The children had never seen them. I even caught myself selfishly praying a "please oh please let there be some oh please" prayer. But we didn't see any on the way, no matter how hard I squinted.


We couldn't make it all the way to the top because of the snow blocking the road (and I mean mushy, 2-feet deep snow that a four-wheel drive truck barely managed, much less our 12-passenger van), so we stopped in the meadow just before the road to the top and played for a while.







I am absolutely sure this one will get me in trouble when he's sixteen (or maybe even before then), but I love it:



Some of us slept:




After we had exhausted ourselves in the field, finishing up brownies left over from the fellowship time at church, we headed back down the mountain and decided to stop at Refrigerator Canyon. We didn't hike the entire 9 miles of the trail, but we hiked enough to understand why it is named after a cold appliance and enough to marvel at the beauty. And it looks nothing like a refrigerator.




I'm going to take a little detour from my sightseeing story here to tell you about a time when I was young and we went hiking with my grandparents, cousins, and aunt. My father told everyone we would go hiking and to a store. I guess Grandma and Aunt Cheryl thought he said, "Hiking to a store" because they both carried their rather large purses the entire way down the trail. My dad waited until we were a fair piece from the head of the trail before he asked, "Why are you carrying your purses?"


"For the store, of course," they answered.


For some reason, this picture always reminds me of that.



Anyone who knows Miriam knows that this is so HER. Shoes on the wrong feet, pink sunglasses, and pants pulled up to her thighs. Even though the water is about 2 inches deep.


But still no mountain goats.


We piled back in the van, tired and happy and hungry. We were just beginning to round a corner when I yelled,




And high up on a ridge,



was the silhouette of a mountain goat. I took umpteen pictures, trying to get a clear shot. We pointed and explained and pulled forward and reversed, trying to help the kids see it (only Benjamin could). I hoped my macro-zoom worked and we gave up trying to show the children. Ethan rounded the corner.


Where SEVEN more mountain goats (including a kid) stood in plain view.




Yeah! We lingered awhile, intrigued by their uncanny ability to find the smallest of footholds and scale the rocks effortlessly.


And then we headed for home, tired, happy, hungry, and fulfilled.


Thank you, family! And thank You, Lord.



Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm Admitting Defeat

If this child




lives to be 8, it will be a miracle indeed.


Tonight at dinner, Lily (5) said, "Edee looks really tired. Her eyes are half opened."


"You mean half closed," replied Benjamin.


"Well," I said, "if they're half closed, then they're also half opened."


"Nuh-uh," said Ben in his I-just-want-to-be-contrary-to-my-little-sister voice.


"Then what else would the other half be? If it weren't half opened?" I asked.


There was MAYBE a two-second pause (if I really stretch it out) before he answered, "Nickels."


Thursday, May 21, 2009



Yesterday, Benjamin (7) came up and asked me, "Mom, what are the five centses called again?"


"Nickels," I answered quickly.


"No. We have five centses. What are they called?"




He began to get more frustrated, a bewildered look on his face. "I'm talking about centses."


I started speaking more slowly, looking directly at him. "If you have five cents, five pennies, then you have the same thing as a nickel. Are you talking about 'coins'? Or sometimes we call it 'loose change'?"


"MOM! I'm talking about the FIVE CENTSES!! S-E-N-S-E-S!!"




It seems the change isn't the only thing a little loose around here. My head hurts from all the rattling.



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