Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wild Montana Skies: Stevensville, MT

I had forgotten about the song Wild Montana Skies until I heard it on my John Denver Pandora channel.  Yes, I have a John Denver channel.  Don't judge.

I was just telling David in the car the night before that I had thought of our perfect karaoke duet - should we ever be in the unlikely position of doing a karaoke duet.  The song I first suggested, which I can't even remember now was so wrong because a little later, turning on the road to home, I knew what it should be.  Our go-to duet has to be Meet Me in Montana by Dan Seals and Marie Osmond.  Obviously.  Now to figure out a way to secretly get David into a karaoke situation...

I have lived in Montana a month now and the only regret I have is that I didn't move here sooner.

I do not know the name of this particular mountain, only that it is part of the Bitterroot Mountain Range.  I think of it as "My Mountain" because it is the view I have all day sitting at my desk in my home office.  
It's a hardship, I know.

Truthfully, I do miss some of the people I left behind and one thing has become clear very quickly.  It will be harder than I expected to make friends.  I wasn't swimming in friends back in Texas but I had a few, those select people who can put up with me for more than a few minutes a time. 

When this is one of your nearest neighbors and the town you live in only contains about 1800 people and you work from home, it is a little harder to find people you have something in common with.  I thought maybe this was someone camping but since it has been there the whole time I have lived here and I finally noticed the fence and decorative windsock, I realized they might be there to stay.

I want to find others that are interested in some of the same things as me but right now, the only thing I feel really interested in is getting outside with my camera.

There is so much to see.  I took this photo at Lee Metcalf Wildlife Preserve which is very close to my house.  There is a muskrat in this photo, the little brown blob near the snowy area in the middle left of the screen.  Here, let me help...

Now I know what a muskrat looks like.  If you get Muskrat Love stuck in your head after this, it isn't my fault.

He is listed on the board at Lee Metcalf as one of the animals you can expect to see (along with several others, the only one of which we haven't seen yet is the owl).  Back in Texas I might expect to see a squirrel or a dead armadillo and there was the crazy hawk last year that dive bombed me when I went to check the mail but here, seeing a variety of animals is going to be more routine.

A flock of geese behind my house.  Seeing geese here is almost as common as seeing a squirrel at my old house.

See what I mean?

I did finally see a squirrel, also at Lee Metcalf.  This is the only one I have seen since I have been here and squirrels were a daily sight before.  Our dog Karma seems really fascinated by all of the new smells but I sometimes wonder if she isn't trying to figure out where all the squirrels went.

A lot of things are different here than I expected.  It is uncommon for anyone to ask us where we are from unless they are also from somewhere else.  Usually it is another southerner.  I also find that a lot of people aren't from here themselves.  Most came here on vacation or for some other reason and moved here because they loved it.

It looks like there's a lot to love.

It isn't as cold here as people think it will be.  Just because the temp says it is 30 doesn't mean we aren't outside in a flannel shirt and a light sweater or jacket.  A lot of people tried to tell me I would be cold here and I tried to tell them I wouldn't.

I was right.  The day we visited Lake Como it was in the upper 30s and I was wearing jeans, a long sleeve cotton t-shirt and fingerless gloves.  One thing I have learned is that I own all of the wrong clothes.

David actually brought this up when I realized for the first time that he owns a LOT of clothes.  I didn't realize before because we had separate closets.  Here we share.  He has all of the bars on his side crammed full and was trying to encroach on my half of the back wall.  I have quite a bit of open space on my side.  He also has more shoes.  After admitting he had a lot of clothes, he said they were the wrong clothes.  They are the wrong clothes.  We have Dallas clothes.  We haven't done much shopping because it is 25 miles back to Missoula.  But when we "go into town" our shopping has been primarily two things:  food and outdoor clothing and equipment.

I have ordered a carrier for my camera that will allow me to carry it hands free on my chest.  Then I can just pull it out of the holster when I see things like this Blue Heron but keep my hands free for when I trip and fall which is pretty likely on any given day.

So we will be shopping for those things we need here that in some cases we never in our wildest dreams back in Texas knew existed, much less that we would ever own them.  Things like bear spray.

This is an excerpt from the Montana Fish & Wildlife website.  I have also learned that the homeowner's association here discourages putting up bird feeders because they can attract bears.  I also can't compost or put dog food or other animal food outside.  If I want a vegetable garden, there are very specific rules about how it must be done.

So we bought bear spray.  I know they are hibernating now but we were at REI anyway and so we got some.  I haven't practiced yet but did read some instructions about use on the same website.

I was telling David about this over dinner and mentioned the last bullet point in the first section to him.  The part about carrying more than one can of spray in case there is "more than one bear".  David said if there was more than one bear he would spray himself  in the face so he couldn't watch while they were eating him.

Yes, life here is different.  Different in a good way.  I saw a book in REI by Richard Louv called Last Child in the Woods where he discusses his theory of Nature Deficit Disorder (really, look it up, there is even a Wikipedia page).  I don't need to read the whole book (which I haven't purchased yet) to believe this is a real thing. 

It became really obvious to me - and probably has to David as well - that I suffered from this.  When these deer were spotted crossing the 2 lane highway across from my house when I went out to my car, I almost fell running back to the house to grab my camera.  Stupid rug.

Sometimes I think David thinks I am crazy to get so excited about the scenery and animals here.  But he was the one to first spot the muskrat.  And he wanted to get a picture of the eagle that hangs out across from our house as much as I did.

A little blurry but I wasn't totally prepared.  David got a few photos too.  And there are other birds.

Pileated Woodpeckers at Lee Metcalf

An Osprey, also at Lee Metcalf

A bunch of turkeys on the road to Lee Metcalf.

Living out here where I have easy access to Lee Metcalf on a daily basis and lots of places we haven't had time to explore yet on the weekends make me realize I won't ever want to move to Missoula, where we originally expected to live.  I want to stay out here with my mountain and the animals.  And I don't ever want to live anywhere again where the daily view consists of cars and parking lots, buildings and houses, concrete and asphalt.  I have found the cure for my Nature Deficit Disorder.

"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir


  1. sharonjubenville@gmail.comFebruary 28, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I,too, love the Bitteroot Valley.
    You might check out our friends, John & Beth Bruder, who live in Florence. Excellent consultants to alleviate 'Nature Deficit Disorder'.
    from Sharon in Alaska

  2. Thank you! We have probably stood in line behind them at Gary & Leo's without knowing it!

  3. All pics are too good. I love nature. The way these pictures are clicked its very attractive.

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