April 2011


I learned a few things in my twenties.

Discovered that the massive potholes of the heart left behind by grief can be fairly well patched with enough fresh air and Montana sunshine.

Acquired the knowledge that no matter how thin, certain broad shoulders look Better when not showcased by a strapless dress.  Those certain broad shoulders being my own, of course – I’m sure yours look lovely.

Realized that even when you wish life were over, it goes on, and you can eventually be glad about that.

Caught on to the fact that making a game out of not playing games of the heart is just as childish as being a game player … that feigning disinterest in someone who fascinates you is just as shallow as feigning interest in someone who does not … though it took tripping headfirst into love with a young beekeeper for me to see that.

Apprehended the importance of a flexible rubber spatula in one’s kitchen at about the same time as the old saying, “she throws out with the spoon what he brings in with the shovel.”  And also learned that every scrap of brownie batter clinging to the bowl can be … most fully appreciated … when one is in possession of such a spatula.

Understood that even the mathematically challenged can become a successful, and more important, satisfied, small-business-owner, just like the non-mathematically-challenged.  The powers of Quickbooks, calculators, and hard work are not to be underestimated.  Nor is the patience of the non-mathematically-challenged business partner (and husband).

Accepted that dryers do eat socks, and there’s no point in hanging onto a single sock whose mate you’ve not seen in years, thinking that it will one day turn up again.  Turn such sock, fabulous though it may have been, into a filter for beeswax and move on with life.

Figured out that a love of drinking wine and of reading can become academically compatible by majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing.  I’ve got the degree from the University of Georgia hanging in my office to prove it!

But after all this learnin’, after an English degree, a law degree, a happy marriage, and half-ownership in an s-corp, I find myself barefoot, pregnant, and moving back in with my parents …

‘Cause I don’t want to learn a valuable lesson about the perils of delivering one’s firstborn 150 miles away from one’s obstetrician.

Thanks for having me back, Mom and Dad!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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Sunset over Glacier National Park, April 27, 2011.

Clowerpower, beloved family friend and almost coincidentally my freshman roommate, delivered her first child last night.  Let heaven and nature sing.  Welcome to the world, baby girl!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Brother Dear’s adventures on Divide Mountain weren’t the only Awesome Activity he indulged in over the weekend …

My dad’s beloved 1987 Chevy Cavalier convertible – nothin’ fancy, but it’s been runnin’ and sunnin’ for 24 years now, from South Carolina to Montana.  This jaunt marked its first trip to Many Glacier in April … here’s to many more!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits to Sanford Stone.  All Rights Reserved.

Brother Dear grabs the reins and tries to keep the wagon out of the ditch…this is a climbing log, so if you’re looking for babies or honey or dogs you should probably just check back in tomorrow:

Spring arrived in Glacier County this weekend!  Maybe we didn’t have daffodils or sweet clover emerging from the frosted-mud of the prairie (or even our usual crop of dandelions) but there was a delightful sensation of life and change and (relative) warmth around the east side of Glacier Park for the first time since…I don’t even know.  It got really, really wintry in October, but when was it warm?  Not last summer.  The summer before?  Doesn’t matter.  It’s really nice right now.

So nice in fact, that I decided to be marginally ambitious, a notion I have not experienced since the last time it was warm…  I tossed a couple ideas around the old noggin’ and was repeatedly self-encouraged to shelve my grande schemes.  I try to keep these grande schemes from public knowledge, blogs, and most pertinently, maternal cognizance.  Mom isn’t fond of her children wandering off on snowbound solo adventures, and she has made some very keen points over the years in regards to the intelligence behind such missions.  Unfortunately for her innate sense of “don’t let the child put his hand on the stove’s coils, his head behind the bull’s hooves, or his entire being in a crevasse,” I could not contain myself and set out on the most beautiful day in the history of Glacier County, circa 2011.

Destination: Divide Mountain

That’s Divde in the background.  I think the base is two or three miles away but I couldn’t say exactly.  Seemed like a long way in deep snow.

I’ve climbed Divide probably dozens of times, mostly in the summer.  When there isn’t 6 or 8 feet of solidish snow on the ground, you can pretty much drive a vehicle to the base of the mountain (and I’ve seen some remarkably ON-road vehicles up there).  I took Mom and Dad up to the summit a couple years ago.  I always think of it as “easy” because it is so oft climbed that there is basically a trail up it.  In reality, it isn’t a cake walk.  It’s steep and exhausting.  One of my heroes, J. Gordan Edwards, died on the approach during the summer of 2004 at an advanced age.  JGE was the “patron saint” of mountaineering in Glacier Park, and it is pretty incredible that his lifetime of adventuring ended due to a massive heart attack, surrounded by friends and family, while approaching a summit in the place that he loved.

I skipped the “road” approach and did my best to beeline it, cross-country, to the start of the primary ascent.  The going wasn’t too bad, almost all uphill and with the occasional plunge deep into a soft spot in the snow.  No crevasses though.

I eventually made it to what I’ve always called “the shoulder” by which one accesses “the ridge.”  Basically from where I’m standing, one heads up and left and then up and right at that treeline shoulder.  Winter complicates this, as the treeline is really just the very top of the trees sticking out.  It’s pretty steep so you either need an ice ax or could possibly (worked for me 5 years ago) pull yourself up by tree branches.  The latter is not recommended, because when you get close to the trees you encounter a miserably wet and chilly situation.  The tree trunks and limbs absorb the warmth of the sun and melt out the snow around them, but leave the snow on top.  So you think you are grabbing onto a branch and pulling yourself forward…and then fall down through three or four feet of snow.  It isn’t fun getting back up.  Believe me.

The way up was very challenging.  Five or six or seven steps at a time was a cause for self-congratulation.  Two or three steps was not reason for ridicule.  The snow was deep and very soft.  In years past, I’ve simply removed my snowshoes and chipped in steps up to the top.  This time around I sunk up to my gut with each labored lurch forward, so I had to climb with the snowshoes on, which can be very awkward on steep terrain.  I made it, managed to avoid a couple of nasty looking overhanging cornices, and never felt in any danger significant enough to lie to my Mom about.

Upon reaching the ridge, usually there is smooth sailing all the way to the summit.  This time around the ridge was miserable.  Snow, ice, rocks, drifts, wind, water.  I couldn’t tell what was an inch of snow on top of rock and what was several feet.  The ax was almost useless as a means to steady myself without a little snow depth.  But…I could see the Lookout and wasn’t about to miss out on a chance to recarve my usual graffiti.

I kinda messed up the R…whoops. The lookout itself was in terrible shape.  (Divide Lookout is an old fire lookout, by the way.  A fixture of Parks and Forests, they served as a method of spotting fires and warning the necessary responders.  Divide, even its heyday, must have been one of the least comfortable.   There are still a few functioning lookouts in Glacier, and throughout the west.)  Every year the building is in slightly worse shape, and I’m always a little amazed that it still stands on its stone foundation, bolted to the surrounding crumbling rock by frayed and broken wires. I’m saddened to report that the old lookout lost some more floorboards this winter, and some of a wall, and had a corner blown in by the wind.  Actually I’m not that saddened.  I love the lookout, and the many stories I know about it that are various shades of true (some of which are mine), but it isn’t a bad thing to see it tumble down back to it’s origins.  Only the rocks live forever, right Dad?

  

I snapped a cheesy self portrait and almost talked myself into going to the top. The guy in the photo looks like he could handle it.  Unlike the persona captured on digital film, Sanford had promised his mother that he’d be careful…and to be honest I’d been scared enough getting up to the ridge and then slipping my way to the lookout and then considering just how far it was back to the truck that I decided that it might make sense to honor my promise at that point.  So I turned around, wearing every article of clothing I’d brought, and was happy to do so.

Here are a few snapshots of the retreat:

Tracks of some sort. I suspect wolverine, because I want everything to be a wolverine.  Also, it has some serious claws and the track lead directly across the 80 degree east face of the mountain.

A ptarmigan in full winter plumage…poor guy doesn’t believe it is really spring either.

Looking back up at where I snuck around a nasty overhanging cornice.

You can now see what I was talking about before in regards to the route.  I like that my tracks are the only tracks around.  Except the wolverine, of course.

And here’s the final trek omitting most of the actual approach from the road.  The circle is the lookout and final destination, so you can see that I was still a fair ways from the top.  If you’ve done the hike before, you know it is pretty clear sailing from the lookout to the summit.  That’s the idea but usually that route isn’t covered with ice.  Winter/spring/summer/fall the section in red is what is really hard about the hike.

I hiked back to the truck and checked the map.  The highway is at exactly 6000 feet and the lookout is right around 7800 ft.  The summit is up at 8665 ft.  Don’t worry Divide, I’ll be back, and maybe I’ll bring some blog readers with me.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All rights reserved to Sanford Stone.

Roy Rogers came bounding into Babb.

As you may remember, Honeydew adopted Roy in California from friends of ours whose ancient Golden Retriever and very young Gentleman’s Lab had gotten together, to their surprise.  I protested this adoption somewhat half heartedly – I get my dog lovin’ nature from my Pa Pa, but I felt that what with our impending construction project, protesting Roy’s adoption was the responsible thing to do.  Nevermind that I had earlier adopted Buck Owens out of our neighborhood bar.

I am so glad that Honeydew saw through my protestations.

Since we met, I have become absurdly attached to Roy, who’s had quite the year.

He met the loons.

He learned to assist with swarm removal.

He charmed my aunt Sissy, who has known the love of many a damn good dog.

And if you’ve ever known the love of a damn good dog, then I needn’t say more.  And if you’ve never known the love of a damn good dog, then this blog post probably ain’t for you.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

I haven’t bought in to a lot of the pregnancy advice that’s out there … deli meat, real coffee, and heaven forbid, a spoonful of raw cookie dough have all passed my lips in the last 37 weeks.  Go ahead and judge me.  I’ve discovered there’s a magical quality to the ninth month of pregnancy – it settles over your shoulders like a weightless coat of armor and allows you to simply focus on doing what you think is best for baby and you, and not to give a fig what the rest of the world thinks.  In my case, it’s also allowed me to finally turn the melter off from underneath the beeswax, and take a nap.

Of course, the ninth month is notorious not for empowerment, but for moans and groans and general whines.  And when Honeydew was home for a visit from California, I did some of that, in the privacy of my no-longer-comfortable couch.  But I’ve had too many dear friends struggle with infertility to complain much about pregnancy … Honeydew and I wanted this baby (clearly, we need some help around here!), and when I get a little bit miserable, I try to think of those friends, and all the women in the world who wish they could have children, but cannot, for various reasons.  And I try not to complain.  I try to focus on how lucky I am, how lucky this baby is to be so wanted, so loved already.

But still – for your amusement, I’d like to share a few snippets of  just what the rest of the world thinks about my pregnancy.  And they think plenty.  And aren’t afraid to approach me, pregnant woman they’ve never seen before, and offer their opinion on the contents of my grocery cart (Honey, I hope you’re not drinking that Bud Light.  You know, it’s not good for your baby.  Well, it’s probably not good for my houseguests, either, but they need may need it in order to put up with me after the mood you’ve put me in, thanks), my midsection’s size (My Word!  You look like you’re 42 weeks!  Are you sure you should be out grocery shopping?), and, having survived the grocery-ing and preparing for trip  home, my much anticipated order at the coffee bar (Americano, room for cream, please;  Barista: Don’t you think you should have a decaf, sweetheart?  No, I don’t want a decaf, it’s 2pm and I’ve been thinking about this glorious cup of coffee since I woke up at 4:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep and I’ve got 150 miles and 1,500 potholes on Hwy 2 to go.  Don’t ruin it for me!).

Whooo.  Feeling better!  Though mama says it will get even worse once I have said Baby with me in the grocery cart.

But there is one piece of advice I’ve taken to heart, and I’ve abided by it more days than not.  Exercise, exercise, exercise.

And look what I would have missed Thursday if I hadn’t gone walking:

And look what I would have missed Saturday if I hadn’t gone walking:

Now, don’t y’all start emailing me with all the dangers of … walking.  I might really do something crazy, like order that bushel of oysters on the half shell I’ve been dreaming about …

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Charlie Stone.  All Rights Reserved.

As y’all know, we had a ball at the 2011 Made in Montana Marketplace, and we’ve been featuring our new retailers on the blog for the last couple of weeks.  Today, we spotlight Latigo & Lace, a darling and eclectic little landmark in Augusta, Montana:

At Latigo and Lace, owner Sara Walsh has corralled the state’s best arts and crafts under one roof – in addition to Glacier County Honey Co. beeswax candles, you’ll find bronzes and ceramics by Montana artists, regional books, jewelry, clothing, and baskets filled with other treasures tucked into the store’s corners.  Sara takes pride in offering “Made in Montana” products like Glacier County Honey’s, and she serves up a delightful cappuccino, too.

Turned bowls created by John Noyes

Vase by Melora Neaves

Original bronze by Joe Halko

If you’re driving Hwy 287 through Augusta (and non-Montanans, you might be, too, if you’re coming up to Glacier from Yellowstone – Hwy 287 is your best route!), stop in to Latigo & Lace and tell Sara thanks for stocking Glacier County Honey candles!  She’s located at 124 Main Street, and her hours are 9:30am-6:00pm.  Phone is (406) 562-3665.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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