My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, October 22, 2010

Big Sky Country

Willow and I drove up to Havre, Montana in August to visit my mom for a few days. (Well, I actually did most of the driving, Willow just looked out the window and napped). ;-) So here are a few photos from our little sojourn in "Big Sky Country"...

Mom's house and rock gardens

She has a very green thumb!
Her beautiful rock gardens contain a huge variety of plants,
from snapdragons and petunias to portulaca and Moon flowers.

Her fun rock garden fountain

Her yard and gardens always have lots of dragonflies too. I took this photo of this beautiful red one in her rock garden three years ago. (It also appears on this post from my '07 visit, but think it's pretty enough to share again)...

We spent part of a beautiful day at Beaver Creek Park near Havre. A narrow strip about a mile wide and 17 miles long encompassing 10,000 acres, it's one of the largest county parks in the US. And running as it does along the northern slopes of the Bear Paw Mountains, it's got to be one of the prettiest too...

Mom and Willow enjoy a little walkabout by Bear Paw Lake

Cattails along Bear Paw Lake...

The big mountain in the distance is known as "Old Baldy."
Mom has a view of it from her living room window.

Some pretty hayfields across from the lake...

We hiked up a good portion of the 3.5 mile Bear Paw Nature Trail, which has 20 interpretive panels that share information about the archeology, history, and wildlife of the park.

Some lovely wildflowers along the trail...

During our hike, we met a family from neighboring Rocky Boy's out picking Juneberries (better known to BW and me as serviceberries) to make pies. We helped them with their berry-picking for a while, though frankly for every berry I put in their cans, easily five went into my mouth! (This is a seriously yummy fruit!)

A bit further down the trail, we came upon these berries, which were soft and velvety and such an unusual color. I picked a small branch and took them back to our new Native American acquaintances and asked if they knew what they were. Their reply was, "Don't eat them! They're poisonous!" After I assured them I wouldn't chow down on an unknown berry (they probably were alarmed after watching how I plowed through the Juneberries!), they said they didn't know the official name, but they'd always called them Snake Berries. They sure were pretty... like little apricots!

I was able to reciprocate with a bit of my flora knowledge
when they asked if we knew the name of a wildflower
their son had picked by the armful.
Sure did - it was wild bergamot, one of my favorites! :-)

And before we leave Beaver Creek Park, here's one last view from the trail...

It's such a beautiful and peaceful place!

We'll be returning to Mom's in my next post, to visit a "house within a house." I think you'll really enjoy it!


  1. Your mom's place and the Bear Paw mountains look so beautiful. I love her little stone fountain, and that dragonfly is gorgeous.

    The rolling hills look so idyllic. I wish I could be there right now...but sitting here looking at them via the PC is the next best thing I guess.

    Do serviceberries taste like blueberries, or maybe huckleberries? I've never seen/had them.

  2. Hi, Rose!
    I wish we were there now too. I talked to Mom yesterday, and she said they've had the most beautiful fall colors this year, and right away my mind jumped to Beaver Creek and how pretty it must be there. (One of the things I like best about Beaver Creek State Park? No hunting allowed!)

    I'd say they're more similar to huckleberries in taste, but maybe I'd say differently if I were able to eat some of both side by side. (I don't always have the most discriminating palate!) Here is how the web site I linked to describes their flavor...

    Juneberries are a great surprise the first time you try them. With no similar commercial relatives, these delicious berries, related to apples, are quite unique... The fruit has a strong, sweet and penetrating flavor, a little like pears, while the soft seeds add a nutty, almond-like flavor.

    I can tell you they're REALLY good! Wish I had a big bucket of them now! :-)

  3. Gorgeous photos! And your mom's place looks lovely. I especially like the fountain.

  4. Daphne ~ Thank you! Mom and I both have a thing for fountains! That's why I loved the one you have in your pond. :-)

  5. Your mom's neck of the woods must be so deliciously beautiful this time of year. So many beautiful places, so little time (and money, lol).

    It's interesting that the service berries are related to apples. I hope I can try some someday. They don't sound like they taste to huckleberries or blueberries to me.

  6. I'm officially super jealout of you- that photo of the dragonfly is gorgeous! Someday, I shall get mine. :)

    I've never been to Montana, but now would love to. It's so beautiful! Your mom is very lucky to live in such a lovely place. The park and views are just like paintings.

  7. Rose ~ You sound just like me! I'm always saying, "So much world to see, so little time and money with which to see it!" :-) That's one reason I find so many blogs (and books and films) such fun- they allow wonderful vicarious travel. (Did you see Vegan Backpacker's latest post about vegan restaurants in Prague! That place has long been on my Top 5 List to go visit!)

    Mom lives on the prairie, which has its own beauty, but how nice that the Bear Paw Mountains and Beaver Creek are a quick and easy drive away. I used to live in Alamogordo, NM and thought it was ideal. In the high desert with a mild climate, one Thanksgiving I was sunbathing by my apartment swimming pool, thinking "Ah, this is the life!" But after a while I thought, "This isn't very Thanksgivingy feeling!" So I changed clothes, hopped in the car, and 15 minutes later my roomie and I were tubing on snow in the Cloudcroft mountains! That was great. We could go from palm trees, cactus and pampas grass to golden aspen, apple orchards and cider stands (cherry as well as apple cider) on Fall afternoons. Wonderful!

    BW and I planted a couple of serviceberry bushes in two different places on our property several years apart, but both died. One didn't get enough water and one got frozen back in early fall and late spring blizzards and hard freezes too many times. I haven't given up, though, I have plans for another spot where I'd like to plant one or two and I think they'll do much better. I hope you'll get to try some Juneberries/serviceberries, because they're really tasty!

    Molly ~ Wasn't that a beautiful dragonfly? I love its red color! I've made many attempts, but only have two decent dragonfly photos to show for my efforts - that one, and the one in Acadia that joined us on our picnic. Keep trying, a great dragonfly photo will come eventually! :-)

    You're right that some of those photos of the Park look like paintings! As much as you love Colorado, you guys have got to go to Montana someday! It's varied and beautiful! Try to get to Glacier National Park. It's always been my favorite, and that is some gorgeous, gorgeous country in that part of the state!

  8. Glacier is one park I'd love to go to! Someday, we'll definitely visit there. :)

  9. I loved your photos and the hike sounds so wonderful. I tried to make the photo with your mom in it bigger so I could see her and see if I'd recognize her but it was too tiny. She does look like she's kept in great shape.

    I had to scroll down through the tiny house post to get to this one and it took great self control. That one will be some serious eye candy and I'm REALLY looking forward to it but this lunch break is over. I remember her santa's village miniature insude the clock frame. Funny I can't remember going to Florida but I can remember that!!!

  10. Molly ~ You'll love Glacier - but try to get there before the glaciers have all melted completely! :-(

    Jo ~ You would have had such fun at Beaver Creek, I could picture you there with us easily! :-) (I emailed you the original photo of Mom and Willow so you could see it better).

    I wondered if you'd be all over that miniatures post like a duck on a junebug when you visited next! LOL! Remarkable self-discipline! :-) The Santa's Workshop you remember gets discussed quite a bit in the comments, so you'll enjoy those. And that's too funny that you forgot about a trip to Florida but remember the Santa's Workshop! LOL! Talk about Random Access Memory! ;-) The brain certainly works in mysterious ways. Mom had the secretary desk/Victorian dollhouse display in that post in the sunroom at Maple Top. I wonder if you'll remember seeing it there?

    You'll enjoy several of my upcoming posts, if eye candy is what you're after! :-)

  11. Thanks for sending the photo of your mom. She looks great! Which should be good news for you. You'll be a very striking old lady too I'm sure. (Not that your mom's that old - but you know what I mean!)

  12. Jo ~ That's very sweet of you to say! I'll pass along your compliment to Mom when I talk to her next week, and as for your prediction about how I'll look in old-ladyhood, all I can say is that I hope your crystal ball is in good working order! LOL


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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