This is a shot I took last October just outside of Butterfly Herbs on Higgins in Missoula. I don’t recall this fellow’s name and can’t find my notes, but I do recall his goat’s name was “Deer.” And what a goat! I could smell him from a block away. They were hitchhiking around America, spreading a message of love and unity, organizing rides via Craigslist. He was in Missoula to join with a guy from Seattle who was running for President.
Today is my friend Jenny Montgomery’s birthday. It also happens I have a Q&A in this week’s Independent in support of her pop-up poetry/art installation at Radius Gallery called “Hatch.” You can check out the interview HERE. Meanwhile, an excerpt:
Jenny Montgomery’s Radius Gallery pop-up show, titled Hatch, explores the parenting of her son, who was born seven years ago with no signs of life. Nurses at the remote, rural hospital revived him and he was immediately whisked away from Montgomery and her husband, Ryan, to a large urban facility where modern technology enabled his survival. Hatch documents Montgomery’s experience, substituting the medical jargon and technology with images and poetry. It’s an exhibit that touches on ancient ritual traditions surrounding death and the afterlife, the romantic idealization of childhood and the near-fetishization of medical “cures” and pharmaceuticals. We spoke with Jenny—you may also know her as co-owner of Montgomery Distillery—about this intensely personal exhibit and her uncommon son, Heath.
I’ve gotten to know Jenny fairly well over the past couple years. She appeared in the DonkeyGirl fashion extravaganza “Two-Wheel Nation,” she modeled for me at last spring’s fashion shoot for the Indy’s “Spring Fashion” insert, and she also modeled at the Betty’s Divine “Dysfunctional Family” shoot we did a few weeks ago. She plied me with alcohol at the Beargrass Writing thing last month, and just last night hung out with me at Chris Dombrowski’s book release party held at Montgomery Distillery. Jenny is one of my favorites. Everyone should be lucky enough to know her.
Kalin Andrews is a huge inspiration. We’ve actually squared up next to each other in the hot room at yoga a few times, but it wasn’t until Instagram that we actually “met.” The homemade videos she shares to her feed are something to behold. She runs a delicious pizza joint. She’s bold and fun in front of the camera. She works hard at what she does. And I’m pretty stoked how this little collaboration turned out, especially given how experimental it kind of was.
First real blast of winter, just before night falls, and I love it.
The other evening a couple miles up on my (near) nightly ramble in the Rattlesnake I reached a spot creekside. It was a gorgeous fall evening, and I decided I wanted to grab a picture — it’s one of my favorite spots that, while definitely popular, doesn’t get near the traffic other sites do — before climbing a steep hill and returning to the trailhead. As I approached the bank, I thought to step out onto some flat rocks so that I could be farther out into the water for a better photographic vantage point. I took a step, heard a splashing at my feet, and lo and behold —
This snake had a fish firmly by the tail. Up out of the water, the fish’s gills were still flexing steadily, but not quickly. My immediate reaction was to want to rescue the fish, which is strange. Yeah, I have learned a deep affinity for fish as I’ve become a more avid fisherman (how’s that for a contradiction?)(I’m certain other fishermen, and hunters for that matter, can relate), but why should its life be more important than that of the snake? So I left them alone, and sat back to watch the struggle unfold. I was transfixed, and found it oddly emotional.
At one point a couple other hikers approached, with dogs, and I stood from my perch on a rock to try and keep the dogs away. The two hikers — young women — eyed me with looks of mild concern before ascending the hill I had intended to climb. I didn’t want the dogs to mess up what the snake was trying to accomplish.
The snake worked the fish around and positioned its jaw at the fish’s tail, clearly with the intention to swallow the entire thing. How it hoped to accomplish that I don’t know, but I trust it knew what it was doing. I could have remained until darkness watching, fascinated, but I had to return to Missoula and pick Julia up after work. I was pleased to witness it, though. Something I’d never seen before, and possibly never will again.
The next night I returned to the spot, curious to see if there were any signs of what had happened. No dead fish, no bloated and belching snake, nothing. No one ever would have known what had happened there. Who knows what DID happen there. Maybe the snake pulled off its feast, maybe a dog — or bear, for that matter — came along and swallowed them both. I’ll never know.
I took the opportunity to take the pictures that I hadn’t the night before, though.
I explored a couple little side trails on the way back that I hadn’t hiked before. Looking upstream I could see clearly that someone had built a cairn out in the flow, but there weren’t any obvious paths to access it. After some bushwhacking and finally some wading out into the current, I got a closer look.
There were a couple cairns, which were cool enough, but what amazed me is that someone had taken the time and no small amount of effort to make little redirections of the stream so that it flowed over rocks, creating little pools and waterfalls along the way. It was like some guerrilla zen garden of some kind, and I loved it. Again, I could have stayed for hours. The pictures I took don’t do it justice.
It made me happy. It proved that how we humans choose to disrupt nature doesn’t always have to be shitty, that sometimes we can actually make beauty. It was good to be reminded of that.