©Bert Gildart: The poem just below was sent to me by a fellow Airstreamer who seems to have a profound understanding of our current dilemma, which has been to depart the state as soon as there’s a break in the weather. But for several weeks, there just hasn’t been one, and yesterday, passes into the western part of Montana were all blocked.
Ah, the joys of a Montana winter as experienced during a ski trip through the heart of Glacier National Park.
Knowing this, Tom Palesch (who writes for Airstream Life magazine) passed along this poem, suggesting why people either love Montana winters – or hate them. (He in turn had received the poem from a friend in Shawmut, Montana, though we’re not sure who penned this little ditty.)
Sometimes we fall into the hate category, though generally it all depends on our circumstances, as you’ll see. But first, this ode to a Montana Winter, which describes our situation – precisely. Unfortunately, the poet is unknown.
Ode to a Montana Winter
98% OF AMERICANS SAY ‘OH SHIT’ BEFORE GOING IN THE DITCH ON A SLIPPERY ROAD.
THE OTHER 2% ARE FROM MONTANA AND THEY SAY, ‘HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS.’
It’s winter in MONTANA
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below
Oh, how I love MONTANA
When the snow’s up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I’ll guess I’ll hang around
I could never leave MONTANA
‘Cause I’m frozen to the ground
That’s been us these past few weeks, just hanging around – until I began recalling just how many good times I’ve had in the state, in winter, and particularly when I’ve been x-country skiing. And it started me to thinking – really thinking about some of the experience I’ve enjoyed.
BIRD OF THE SNOW
One thing I’ve always appreciated is the ways in which wildlife seems to adapt. Take, for example, the white-tailed ptarmigan, a “Bird of the Snow,” as I once wrote in the magazine Highlights for Children. In winter this member of the grouse family turns completely white. What’s more it literally hunkers down in the snow, using the insulating qualities of snow for added warmth.
White-tailed ptarmigan is a bird of the snow, and one that has completely adapted to its rigors.
So deeply do they bury themselves and so completely camouflaged are they, that once while skiing in Glacier National Park, a group of about 12 held tight until I was almost upon them. Then, with a flurry of wings they startled me as they burst into the air.
GHOST TOWN SKIING
Yet another time, I recall that Janie and I, anxious to see a different part of the state, had braved the winter roads and driven about 120 miles from our home near Bigfork to the trailhead of Garnet Ghost town, just south of Missoula.
Prior to departing, we’d made reservation for one of the two rental cabins and, following a six-mile ski, had a roaring fire in the wood stove. Then we explored one of the state’s best preserved ghost towns, so easily accessed in winter.
Skiing Montana's Garnet Ghost town, one of the state's premier winter experiences.
For three days, we skied the surrounding mountains and enjoyed one of the state’s most unique skiing opportunities, not concerned at all that we were nearly “frozen to the ground.”
Over the years, other trips have taken me through the heart of Glacier, and it is then, that I’ve enjoyed some of the world’s best and most remote skiing. It’s a world of powder snow, one whose isolation from humanity is absolute. That’s a condition certainly worthy of celebration, but right now we have obligations in the Southwest and this year have been looking forward to the area’s warmth .
Glacier Ski Trip: And the gentle breezes blow at "70-miles-per hour when it's 25-below." Now who could ask for more?
Which now reminds me of one of my mom’s favorite sayings, as it kinda’ applies to our current situation:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I Cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference…
Since there’s not a darn thing I can do about the weather, I guess what I need to do is acquire the wisdom to accept it. (Right now as I give this blog one last look-over before posting it’s 22 and snowing hard, adding now to the three feet of snow already on the level.)
And, so, we’ll bide our time, meaning that you can look forward to another posting or two about x-country skiing, which serves to keep me sane even during the very, very worst — or the very, very best! — of what this state can provide.
Though we are waiting for a window of opportunity to depart, still, I think Montana winters can offer the very, very best of what this state should really be all about!
TWO YEARS AGO WE WERE SEARCHING FOR GATORS:
Could it be “Tiny?”
BOOKS TO HELP YOUR WINTER TRAVELS (OURS, OF COURSE–AND AVAILABLE FROM US, TOO)