July 2011


As you know, Honeydew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on Monday.

Last year, we climbed Chief Mountain — with permission — to celebrate our love for one another.

We ate wedding cake at the top and left an offering honoring our dear friend, Lil Bob Burns, another good man who died too young.

We read our vows to one another and wondered what the coming year would bring.

Well, it brought a beautiful baby, and a c-section that prevented me from being able to climb mighty Chief again this year.  And so we drove to Chief’s base, and toasted each other, our business, our baby, and Lil Bob.

I like this new tradition.  I love Chief Mountain.  I thank those who gave us the permission to go there, and to be in the presence of something greater than there are words for, just like love.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Today marks the start of Hillstock/Hillhouseapalooza, the party we throw each summer in honor of Howard Hillhouse Stone, my youngest brother, who died too young, seven years ago.

Seven years ago.  Hardly seems real.

The above picture of Howard is one of my favorites – his mischievous streak would certainly have approved of Hillstock/Hillhouseapalooza, which generally involves tubing, dancing, Beer Olympics-ing, and most importantly, hiking together with a large group of those friends and family who love us best, in Howard’s honor.  I look forward to this week of the year all year, and my heart overflows with love for those friends and family who are here to say, silently, we haven’t forgotten.

Let the games begin!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Ithaca

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

Our dear friend and officiant, Torian Donohoe, read this poem to Honeydew and I at the start of our marriage ceremony.  It is a poem I loved long before I met him, and now it has taken on a deeper meaning for me, and I am enjoying defining and redefining our Ithacas with him every day of our marriage.  Luckily for me, although Honeydew wouldn’t refer to the highs and lows of marriage as so many Ithacas, I know he feels the same way.

Happy anniversary, my love.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits to Tom Whisenand.  All Rights Reserved.

A baby.

Near Babb.

Wearing only her diaper.

Have I mentioned how much I’m loving this summer weather?  After a winter highlighted (lowlighted?) by -40 temps and winds howling at 114MPH, I am soaking up every drop of warmth.  July, please don’t go.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Cain, my family’s beloved canine companion of thirteen years, passed away yesterday, his big head resting safely in my dad’s strong hands, his ears filled with the sounds of my mom’s sweet voice, her Georgia cadences comforting him until the very end.

In a family of dogs and dog lovers, Cain stood out to all us, from the very start, as someone special.  I wrote a good bit about him previously, and if you didn’t know him, you might enjoy reading a little bit about his life with us.

Looking back over thirteen years, I thought that Cain had taught me about the importance of never missing a campfire attended by those you love, or perhaps about how to help those you love to grieve: just sit by their sides, and wait.

In recent months, I thought that Cain had taught me about aging, and how to help someone you love keep their dignity even as it tries daily to slip away from them.

But yesterday, after my parents made the heart wrenching decision to end Cain’s pain and put him down, peacefully with the help of our gentle, calm vet, I realized that Cain’s lasting lesson for me will be about loyalty: that dawg just wouldn’t leave us, no matter what.

And that’s what I’ll always remember about our Best Dawg, the one who just wouldn’t leave.

And as hard as the decision was to put him down, despite the fact that on recent mornings I would enter the garage and wish he had passed away quietly in his sleep, saving him pain and us that decision, I’m glad Cain wouldn’t leave.  We got to say goodbye to him, to speak words we were never able to speak to others we’ve loved and lost.

In his last days, we took him truck riding, gave him bites of his favorite chicken off the grill, and sat with him in the grass, watching the sunlight play on Gretchen’s Mirror.

Then we gave him a little face time with Maggie Rose, the only grandchild who will meet Mr. Cain, though he only had eyes for his Mama, as usual.

On his last night, Brother Dear built Cain one last campfire.

And as Mama said, Mr. Cain was born a dog, but died a gentleman.

We’ll miss your kind presence, Mr. Cain.  Thank you for being Best Dawg.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

When I last wrote (which has actually been more frequently than this blog indicates, due to a suddenly-pathetic Verizon MiFi connection – so frustrating), we had taken the Glacier County Honey Co. crew up to Logan Pass, to celebrate the 2011 opening of the Going to the Sun Road (the latest since the year it was built!), and to gawk at the massive amounts of snow still blanketing the Pass.

Amazing, huh?

But the reason I wanted to return to that string of photos on today’s blog is to show you the above picture.  That snow has been melted for maybe 36 hours, and already the brave glacier lillies are thrusting their heads through the half frozen mud.  Their will to live fascinates me, as do the tiny alpine forget-me-nots you find growing out of scree fields on mountain summits.

I’ve spent part or all of 22 consecutive summers in Glacier National Park now, and especially in the last 10 years, that will to live has absolutely fascinated me.  I’ve also spent a good part of the last 10 years trying to diagnose this addiction I have for Glacier, this all consuming need to live out my Julys in the shadow of Chief Mountain.

This morning, reflecting on the fearlessness of the miniature flowers, I think perhaps it is this annual display of the will to live, no matter the hostility of the environment, that has brought me back, in admiration, year after gorgeous year.

2011. Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

In a nutshell, for those of you not familiar with Glacier National Park: it is bisected by the east-west Going to the Sun Road, a National Historic Landmark and marvel of engineering.  The apex of the Going to the Sun Road is Logan Pass, 6,646 feet in elevation.  Glacier’s low elevation is one of the many reasons its peaks are fun, and relatively easy, to bag.

For many reasons not worth exploring in this short blog post, when the Going to the Sun Road ain’t open, the businesses on the east side of Glacier National Park, where we live, don’t thrive.  Even though the East Side is clearly the better and more beautiful side of the park, according to a highly scientific study of Warehome residents and hangers-on that I took tonight.  So we East Siders, particularly those of us whose livelihoods are tied to that 60-90 day window of time that the Going to the Sun Road is open, eagerly await the opening of the Road each year.  It takes a surveying crew going ahead of a fleet of dozers and cats to get the Road open each spring.

This spring has been an especially long wait, due to the insane amounts of snow we received this winter.

But yesterday, at long, long last, the Going to the Sun Road opened – the latest opening in its history.  And this year, as in every year, we piled into the truck to be among the first ones to frolic on Logan Pass in 2011.

Maggie touched snow for the first time.

Funny how having a baby makes you take pictures you would have made fun of, before.

Yup, there’s a lot of snow up there.

Looks like it might be awhile before some of our favorite hikes – Floral Park, Reynolds, and the Highline, below – open up!

Guess we’ll have to be good gawkers ’til then.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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