Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Stage-set clouds

Stage-set clouds, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

A clean wind blowing and a gorgeous 360-degree view. It was that kind of day in Wisconsin not long ago, with clouds that looked like a stage set.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


History in the valley

, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

In the dramatic sweep of western history, St. Mary's Mission is a quiet footnote. At its outset, this story (see link here) seems to represent a genuine good-faith effort of two cultures and religions to reach out to one another. It is easy to dismiss all the early missions as impositions, but in this case the Salish repeatedly requested that the "black robes" come to their valley. Without the intervention of disruptive commercial interests (traders and settlers), government policy (moving the Salish onto a reservation), intertribal conflict, and other factors, we will never know how this experiment might have evolved. It's in a beautiful spot in Stevensville, Montana.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Luscious, perfect round form

Luscious, perfect round form, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

The days are getting shorter and the nights crisper. There's just the barest suggestion of fall in the air as the harvest bounty overflows bins and baskets in Wisconsin. This particular beauty is not quite ripe for the picking, but maybe tomorrow! There is something fundamentally reassuring about the sight of ripening tomatoes swelling amid their vines. The earth continues to provide, despite all of humankind's efforts to extract its treasures or pave it over!

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Patterns of living and decay

Patterns of living and decay, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

Who lives in the hollowed-out hole in the old dead stump? I like to think it's woodland elves and possibly a gnome or two.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Teton silhouette

Teton silhouette, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

This is a webcam shot of the Tetons in Wyoming. As I've mentioned previously, some of the webcams trained on spectacular scenes like this can yield amazing views if you check in just at the right time of day.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Cherry orchards

Cherry orchards, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

The shores of Flathead Lake in western Montana are famous for their orchards. Here is an early morning shot of trees bearing loads of juicy and delicious cherries.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


My home town's main mountain!

Mountain in a town, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

The University of Montana in Missoula has a whole mountain as part of its back yard. Here, the sun's first rays touch Mt. Sentinel and the Clark Fork River. The Clark Fork is flowing out of Hellgate Canyon, a place of monumental clashes between Salish and Piegan warriors years ago as the Salish moved through the defile to get to the buffalo grounds.

In terms of sheer water volume, this is Montana's largest river. The history of the Clark Fork is quite dramatic, a story of rapacious greed and pollution, followed in the last 25 years by a concerted and inspiring effort to restore the river and its surroundings. Go to this link to learn more details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


A day in the life of a chicory flower

I have always loved the beautiful blue of chicory. Even though it's considered a weedy pest in some parts of the country, here in our part of Wisconsin it makes only a modest and occasional appearance. Each flower of a chicory plant only lasts one day, so the life you're seeing here is evanescent.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Sunlight, twilight, and storm clouds

These are the unearthly colors that glow when sunshine and rainclouds compete for prominence. Taken in the Smith River Canyon, central Montana.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Crystalline water in Kootenai Canyon

There's an age-old fascination with swift water. There is something magical about the way it rushes and swirls. The crystal clarity of a stream like Kootenai Creek in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana is a source of wonder and delight.

Photographing swift water is a constant challenge because of the very nature of the medium you're trying to capture. I'll keep trying!

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Oak leaves at twilight

Lake Wingra through oak leaves, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

This peaceful scene was taken on Lake Wingra, a sweet little lake that is one of several in Madison, Wisconsin. This is a great spot to sit and have a sundae from the ice cream shop over in the next block.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Wildflower bouquet

Wildflower bouquet, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

A sampling from the field of dreams.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Flathead Lake, Montana

Flathead Lake, Montana, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

A glimpse of the biggest freshwater lake west of the Mississipi.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Bright faces of summer

Bright faces of summer, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

Field of dreams in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Sunrise and contemplation

Sunrise and contemplation, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

Bright light spills over the brow of the hill across the lake as the sun suddenly illuminates the woods and water. Taken in the Swan Valley.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Harebells in Swan Valley

Harebells-Swan-Valley, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

What a mundane name for these delicate wildflowers that grow in such profusion in western Montana at this time of year!

Monday, August 15, 2005


Squall blows over the ranch

Squall blows over the ranch, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

The big sky is dramatic when a small storm front passes through.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Dappled sunlight on cliffs

Dappled sunlight on cliffs, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

Sunlight warms the grasses and lichens on a cliff face in Kootenai Canyon.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Kootenai Creek Canyon, Montana

Kootenai Creek Canyon, Montana, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

On a blistering hot day, this is the most refreshing view you can have. We took a hike in Kootenai Canyon in the Bitterroot Mountains with this stream splashing and swirling beside us throughout. I kept leaving the path to dunk into these crystal-clear waters. Exhilarating!

Friday, August 12, 2005


Intimations of mortality on a lovely day

As you've probably seen, many of my photos are taken at the ranch where I spent much time growing up. When in Montana, I am drawn either to The Ranch or The Lake (the tumbledown cabin my dad built in the Swan Valley.) There is a spirit or a soul in these old buildings that comes from memories of my youth and...who knows? Maybe even the long-gone great-great grandparents who homesteaded in these hills in the 1860's.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


360 degree sunset

360 degree sunset, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

Every now and again there's a sunset that flings its color lavishly all over the sky, in every direction you turn. This particular view of the Bitterroot Mountains was one of those occasions. The bright reflection in the background is the Bitterroot River, casting back its own pink glow in response to the sky. A beautiful summer's eve in Montana...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


View from Fort Owen, Stevensville, Montana

This is the site of one of Montana's earliest white settlements. Originally part of a Catholic mission founded by Father Pierre DeSmet in 1841 at the request of the Salish Indians, this site was converted by John Owen nine years later into a trading post. The Bitterroot Mountains are seen in the distance.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Long shadows over dry hills

I'm here at my home in western Montana. The hills are tawny and dry here right now. Some days after this photo was taken, the sky turned dark with smoke from forest fires.

Behind the mountain in the foreground lies Hellgate Canyon, where the Blackfeet waited to ambush the Salish Indians as the Salish began their annual trip to the plains to hunt buffalo. Though the contours of the land remain ageless, Hellgate Canyon is today choked with condos and plastic places. The population pressure in my beloved and majestic but fragile home state grows more intense every year.

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