Tuesday, August 19, 2003

From Friday, July 18th through Friday, July 25th, I spent time driving out west with buddy Steve. Out west is a little vague, but that's the way I see it. Here are some memories from that time.

The Coyote and the Cloud Wall--

After leaving the Black Hills of far western South Dakota late Saturday afternoon, we headed toward Sheridan, Wyoming, targeting as far into Montana as we could get. The sun crept downward that evening, but the air cooled quickly--relief from the beating sun of The Badlands, experienced earlier that day. We drove with windows down and sun roof open, beginning a stretch of narrower, windier I-90. The cd player deserved a break, so we searched the stations and settled upon country. KYTI--the Coyote--played a mixture of today's and yesterday's hits. They weren't lying. Merle Haggard lulled me into western dreamland, singing "Big City". Just passed Sheridan, out the western window sat a cloud wall. The lights dim, the sky blushing pink and deep purple, almost black, an opaque wall of cloud touched the ground and spanned a width that looked about as big as a sheet draping down from some sleepy giant's quarters. In it were bursts of lightening--a self-contained orchestra, curtained, but so lively that its energy could not be contained.

The Stars at Night . . .

The first night that we camped I was excited to spend part of the evening viewing the stars. Late that night, after lanterns shut off and campers found their way inside their tents, Steve and I sunk down in our canvas chairs, rested our feet on the picnic table, and tilted back. After about 5 to 10 minutes our eyes dialated enough to unmask the cosmos zinging along. It was bright, vivid, active. There were thousands of stars. So much was moving up there. Of course we began counting the shooting stars. We got to about seven before the game wore off and the glow set in--the warmth of things far away, unknown, greater.

The Glacier and the Flat Head--

These are places, not things. A place is something that holds wisdom, available for us to take whenever and however we need. Glacier is a national park in northwestern Montana, and Flathead is a lake found down the road, south from there. But I came to know them in reverse order.

Water that takes on shades of blue that remind you of gemstones often keeps you looking at it for long periods of time. Flathead Lake is sapphire blue. Aged, deep, and miles long it seemed to tell me about continuity. Neighboring this place are mountains, shaped through the centuries by the freezing and thawing of ice on glaciers. The mountains are craggy, dark, and sometimes snow tipped--stark colors bordered by a sea of deep green pines. Movement and change abound in this place.

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