Lending Out Books

You’re always giving, my therapist said.
You have to learn how to take.  Whenever
you meet a woman, the first thing you do
is lend her your books.  You think she’ll
have to see you again in order to return them.
But what happens is, she doesn’t have the time
to read them, & she’s afraid if she sees you again
you’ll expect her to talk about them, & will
want to lend her even more.  So she
cancels the date.  You end up losing
a lot of books.  You should borrow hers.

Hal Sirowitz
Glacier National Park, Montana

How do you look back on a whole lifetime of books and not think about the many friends you let down? You borrowed and didn’t return, you gave and they vanished. Should there be a tabulation of friendship casualties, killed in action, missing in action, wounded?

Break Time

Above Hole In The Wall, Glacier National Park, Montana

In the past seven days, Whitefish has been covered with two feet of snow. As I’m sipping my coffee and starting the day the temperature stands at -6. I see another long boring treadmill run in my future. On days like this, let your mind turn to planning, and dreaming of the future. Allow your thoughts, the same consciousness that is the engine of thoughts filled negativity and darkness, to breath the promise of something different, something better.

Summer is coming, with every day the sun hesitates before setting. Soon our concerns will not be about how warm to dress but if the smoke from wildfires has made it unsafe to be outside. All things pass. Dream for summer adventures, stir dreams for future insight, dream for better days. Unfold those maps, let your fingers trace the countries of future memories.

Advance permits for backcountry backpacking in Glacier National Park can be submitted starting March 15.

The Anxious Wait

Members of the Flathead Sheriff Mounted Posse wait nervously as a protest march led by thousands of Whitefish residents begins. Citizens demanded the tarring and feathering of infamous WF resident Richard Spencer, a reduction in water rates, affordable housing for the underpaid and overworked service industry workers, the creation of two elementary schools to bring relief to the overcrowded Muldown School, an explanation of what that creepy guy who wears latex gloves at Safeway is talking about and a $15 dollar per day per person tax for Canadian at Whitefish City Beach. Wait….my bad, a view from the Whitefish Winter Carnival Parade.

No one can lose either the past or the future

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

Were you to live three thousand years, or even countless multitudes of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can one be deprived of what’s not theirs?

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.14
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours

A difficult two days of teaching. Doubts swirl, rumination abounds and memories linger. I always read the play or watch the movie, “The History Boys” to attempt to regain some grounding. Lots of themes in the movie but central is the conflict between Hector, the aged master teacher, and Irwin, the young imposter, fresh out of university and flush with the latest pop history. A long drive up the North Fork road brought some solace. I brought my camera and attempted to frame what I was feeling.

I am your teacher. Whatever I do in this room is a token of my trust. I am in your hands. It is a pact. Bread eaten in secret. ‘I have put before your life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live’

Hector-The History Boys
The North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Hector–The History Boys
Livingston Range, Glacier National Park, Montana

“Shall I tell you what is wrong with Hector as a teacher? It isn’t that he doesn’t produce results. He does. But they are unpredictable and unquantifiable and in the current educational climate that is no use.”

the Headmaster, The History Boys
The North Fork of the Flathead, Montana
Fog, The North Fork

Mountains, men, and the claim

The North Fork of the Flathead River Valley could care less about five middle-aged men shooting shotguns and clay pigeons for three hours on the first gray and white day of 2019. Those mountains remain tonight, silent and cold, clouds keeping their ridges hidden.  They have survived hellish winters, sweltering summers, wind, snow, and fire have scarred the long memory of this place. We are a second long flutter of a bird’s wing in the history of those ancient mountains and rivers.

We must claim our days. Even if all we build in our lifetimes will be forgotten in one generation. We must claim our days with meaning and connection.

The world we live in is a divided, broken and shallow land. It is now undeniable that depression and loneliness are on the rise, in all age groups. According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. “Zero” is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.

As Ryan Holiday explains in The Obstacle is the Way, there are eight things we can control; emotion, judgment, creativity, desire, decision, attitude, perception, and determination. And so in 2019, let us desire to be making the connections we need to. Let us make the decisions to reach out and not hide behind screens. We can be determined to claim our days with the perceptions that keep us open to new people and determined to maintain those old friendships. Let us be cautious about opinions and judgments that close ourselves off to others.

No monuments will be built to us. The North Fork Valley of the Flathead will little remember today from the other millions of years that have shaped it. We must claim the days we have before they are gone.

And this, too, shall pass away

Montana, like me, is prone to extremes. Endless sun-baked days in August yield to the endless gray and the early dark of December. Late fall, early winter I stumble a bit, and the wolf of depression makes a visit. We must remember to stay pragmatic, do what you know helps, don’t listen to your thoughts, for they are, thoughts.  We too should revisit what Lincoln said nearly 160 years ago.  

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away”


Abraham Lincoln, Wisconsin State Agricultural Society
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
September 30, 1859
North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

In the gloom of the storm comes beauty.