They were two impressive leather chairs, languishing in shadows where the stairway twisted between floors in an elderly Montana hotel. Adjacent to them, sharing royal red and gold carpet, an upright piano waited for a song.
Their town is small, set amid historic and geographic hot spots; you have to want to be there, and there were few guests the night I stayed. No one ran their hands over the smooth, time-worn arms, no modern bottoms felt the deep satisfaction of sinking into the cushions. The piano remained silent.
But, for a few precise moments, as evening peered through a tall window and I paused in the hallway, the glow of forgotten grandeur reappeared, and history sang softly in my ear.
I went for an easy one this week, an “old” rainbow from my film archives, circa 1976. It’s one of a handful of pictures where I can recall what camera/lens combination I was using (Minolta SRT and 35mm Rokkor-X), and how I felt while chasing it. Literally chasing.
Dramatic weather sometimes seems fated to occur when the foreground is really lousy—there are either too many complementary items, or none at all. This was taken right before sundown near Charlo, Montana, at the edge of the National Bison Range. I drove out on a couple of side roads, hoping for something interesting before the light disappeared, and literally around the last corner, at the base of a small hill, I found this wonderful cloud hanging on a barbed wire fence…
Montana’s name is derived from the Spanish word for mountain, and while it has those in abundance many know it by its unofficial nickname—Big Sky Country. It’s the fourth largest state, but ranks near the bottom in population, and there are long stretches of empty on the way from one town to the next, and plenty of room for lonesome.
I’ve bookmarked a few Web cameras from around the world (cheaper than flying, better seats and food, just not as satisfying) and a favorite is the one at Lake McDonald in Montana’s Glacier National Park. A wide and wild range of weather visits this location, where cold water laps against the mountains, but at this time of year winter’s snows are nearly gone from the glacially-carved peaks and the lake surface is relatively calm. I can tell summer is imminent because that orange buoy/float/thingy appears one day, and not long afterwards a small motorboat is tethered there.
The camera takes a new shot about every minute or so, and aside from the Orange Thing there was nothing on the lake except cold ripples when I looked this morning. I must have clicked on the link at the very end of a cycle, because almost immediately an updated view appeared and there was a canoe passing close to the OT! A minute later it was gone, in the internet equivalent of a blink.