Gather Ye Rosebuds

In June, it’s hard to ignore the beautiful flowers synonymous with this time of year.  I gathered rose photos from several years, remembering a beautiful aunt with the same name.

No automatic alt text available.

No automatic alt text available.

Image may contain: plant, flower and nature

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Robert Herrick, 17th Century

Step in Time

This ancient sandal was found in Oregon’s Great Basin.

When other fashion choices elude us, we can usually start with our hoard of shoes to dictate the right thing to wear.  Not so in prehistoric ages.  They were doing well to just protect their feet from the cold, wet, marshy terrain.  In 1938 close to a volcano at Fort Rock, Oregon, an archaeologist named Luther Cressman uncovered utilitarian sandals made of finely-woven sagebrush bark.  They were later carbon dated to 9,000 B.C. and remain the earliest known human footwear.

Pair of overshoes, 1550-1070 BC, Egypt, reed. From Major Myers collection. V&A: 865&A-1903

Egyptian “overshoes” from 1500 B.C. could double for small rafts on the Nile. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Looking at photos of shoes of the past is like looking at different people.  And the environments in which they lived.  In Egypt, reeds were woven into shoes.  The Japanese tied wooden clogs to their feet.

Image result for shoes of the Roman gladiators

Roman gladiator shoe from the First Century.  Museum of London Archaeology.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London maintains a collection of 2,000 pairs of shoes which document their place in history.  Oxfords began to be laced up in 1650 or thereabouts, but received their name on campus in England two hundred years later.  The university probably will never stop the tradition since the conservative world has adopted them as its trademark (Remember the opening segment of “My Three Sons?).


Louis XIV of France decreed that no man nor woman could wear heels higher than his own five-inch high embroidered silks.  The fancy trend stopped  during the French Revolution, but later resumed.  Left and right shoes came in about the mid 1800s.


Huron moccasins of deerskin, porcupine quills and metal.  Canada, ca. 1800.

Farmers, cowboys and soldiers on the American frontier couldn’t have gotten along without their leather boots; long or short, they’ve been popular since before the Middle Ages.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has these late Nineteenth Century riding boots from France on display. 

In 1917 the first Converse “all star training shoe” for basketball was advertised.  Chuck Taylor used to sell them by the boxful after his sports clinics.

Image result for first converse chuck taylor basketball shoe

World War I seems to be the benchmark for change in shoe styles, as it was for many other things.

1920 saddle shoes

1922 advertisement for saddle shoes.

Around 1935 Thomas Sperry observed his dog’s stability while walking on ice, and designed a boat shoe with grooves in the soles.  More recently there’ve been updated versions or outright copies of previous styles.  Gucci produced the loafer in 1953, but it was for formal occasions.  During the same decade, stilettos, named after a Sicilian fighting knife, became all the rage for women.

Image result for 1980 stilettos

The recent comeback of the stiletto makes this one look pretty tame.

Synthetic materials were made into cheap shoes after World War II, but also contributed to foot odor.  Rubber soles, glued instead of stitched to the uppers, have endured.

And in the future?  We can’t imagine giving up the comfort shoes which cater to baby boomers.  New Zealand company Allbirds currently touts an all-wool running shoe for men and women.  In these brand-name days, Nike, Birkenstock, Tom’s and Uggs do the talking.

There were several dozen sandals hidden in volcanic ash in the Fort Rock discovery of 1938.  The real question archaeologists have yet to answer, though, is: Were they from someone’s closet?  Or just on a clearance rack at the original DSW?

Legends of the Rock

She stood looking over the valley for more years than anyone could count.  There were several versions of her story.  But in 1976 when people thought she threatened others, she was taken from her mountain home forever.  Maiden Rock vanished in a cloud of red dust.


The Bridgers, Tobacco Roots, Crazies, and Spanish Peaks form a ring around Gallatin Valley in south central Montana.  I don’t know if this is the only place on earth entirely circumvented by mountains, but it has to be one of very few.  You look one way, turn 45 degrees, then 45 more, and keep on until you’re back to the same spot you started.  But you’ll never not see the mountains.

In the summer, wildflowers stretch from range to range.  The blossoms of yellow, blue, lavender, pink and white gave it its first name: “The Valley of Flowers.”

Maiden Rock was once a landmark towering over The Valley of Flowers at the mouth of Bridger Canyon.  Today, if you visit Bozeman’s fish hatchery, you’ll be about 100 yards away from where she used to be.  It is hard to imagine her there now, as she was for millions of years, with several Indian legends to explain her origin.  I’ll pass along the one which burns deepest in my memory.  It comes from the Blackfeet tribe, courtesy of Montana Genealogy:

There was an early tradition among the Indians of Montana that Gallatin Valley, called by them the “Valley of Flowers” was neutral ground. The name seems appropriate because of the great variety of wild flowers found on the mountainsides as well as in the valley. According to the tradition told to early pioneers by John Richau, a half breed Indian: In ages past, a band of Sioux and a band of Nez Perces, deadly enemies, met in Bridger Canyon and spent two days fighting.

While they were in deadly combat the third day, darkness over-spread the sun, and a strange noise seemed to come from the heavens. The contending warriors stood spellbound as a sweet voice was heard singing and a white flame appeared on top of the mountain, since called Mount Bridger. The flame settled on “Maiden Rock,” where the figure of a maiden was seen as the darkness disappeared. In a strange language all seemed to understand, she said, in part: “Warriors, children of the Great Spirit, sheath the hatchet and unstring the bow. Shed not the blood of your brothers here lest it mingle with yonder foaming water and defile the Valley of Flowers below. There must be no war in the Valley of Flowers, all must be peace, rest and love. The Spirit Maiden has spoken the words of the Great Spirit.” According to Mr. Richau, the truce of that day has been sacredly observed by the Indians.

The dirt road traveled by pioneers past Maiden Rock was eventually made into Highway 231.  Widened in the 1970s, by the Spring of 1976 large pieces of rock were falling onto it.  The highway was closed that summer with the decision made to blast the pinnacle down in September.  Early residents of the valley had said that in the afternoon sunlight the maiden’s face was visible.

There are at least two other legends, both saying that Maiden Rock had been a real Indian girl waiting on her lover to come back, who turned to stone when he was killed and brought to her.

But the one telling how the land between the mountains must be peaceful rings so true, I’ll go with it.  Thinking of a place with only peace, rest and love, as promised by the Great Spirit, is a great comfort.

 Photo credit: Janice Aldrow.  “Sheathe the hatchet, and unstring the bow.”

Saturday in the Park, Part 2

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

We were cautioned by a ranger in the road not to stop the car, but were allowed to slow it down.  Visible among the pine trees for a moment was a mother grizzly followed by two cubs, their silver fur glinting in the sun.  I had to blink to believe I really saw them.

Image may contain: tree, grass, outdoor and nature

Another animal I’d not seen before was the bighorn sheep.  We found some over by Roosevelt Lodge (Tower Falls), in the same area TR did in his visit in 1903.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, grass, outdoor and nature

Bison are beautiful.  The babies like to jump and dance in the evening.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

Guess you’re never too young to play!

Image may contain: sky, bird, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: mountain, sky, grass, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

A raven drops in to see the black wolf the photographers are lined up for in Lamar Valley.

Image may contain: outdoor

Iconic elk rest peacefully on ledges of iconic Mammoth Hot Springs.

After an expedition to Yellowstone in 1870 escorted by Captain Doane from Fort Ellis in Montana, members of Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant designated it as our first national park.  The people of the United States would now be able to experience nature in its pristine form, and look forward to their grandchildren doing the same.

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt made Pelican Island off the coast of Florida a national bird preserve, rapidly setting aside more than 230 million acres for national parks and monuments.  In 1906 the Antiquities Act which he and Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot plotted swiped treasure from under the noses of miners, loggers and developers before they could profit from it.  TR said the land could never be improved upon.

This Spring, the Antiquities Act is being tampered with.  Of course, they wouldn’t dare take away any land already preserved just to make someone richer.

Would they?


Look at these websites for a discussion of recent actions on the Antiquities Act of 1906:

Saturday in the Park, Part 1

I wasn’t wishing it was the Fourth of July, because by then in Yellowstone National Park the landscape would be shades of brown and the animal life higher and out of view.  As it was, our trip during the second week of May to this famous natural ecosystem in Wyoming and Montana turned out to be a boom time to see and photograph big game animals.



At Mammoth Hot Springs we watched a group of elk, some drinking from a stream and some resting.

Hopefully their thick robes kept these bison warm enough in their crossing of the icy river.


The introduction of wolves to Lamar Valley has been controversial; their numbers have increased while the elk numbers have decreased.  Photographers line up en masse with powerful lenses on tripods.  I married my camera to a telescope and got a clearer view of two wolves working on a bison carcass.  An injured black wolf, possible an Alpha female, was causing a bit of commotion closer to the road.

Yellowstone Lake is still mostly frozen in May.  But deep underneath, seismic activity abounds and is closely monitored.

Almost to the Cooke City entrance on our way out of the park, we spotted these two young moose.


Next time: “You may slow your car, but do not stop.  There are grizzlies ahead…”

Old West Larnin’

Image may contain: house, tree, sky, grass and outdoor

Old-fashioned swing outside a one-room schoolhouse built in 1867.

.Image may contain: house, cloud, sky, plant and outdoor

There was a gold strike in the 1860s at Alder Gulch in central Montana.  It drew thousands of miners, who panned and dredged an estimated $30 million worth of the precious mineral.  At first, camps consisted of tents and primitive brush shelters, but soon small towns sprang up around the merchant trade.  The boom also drew Confederate sympathizers who schemed to send gold back to their people in the last days of the Civil War.

Fast forward 150 years.  The mining heyday lasted about ten years; people moved away and the towns fell into disrepair.  But history lovers have put two back together so the public could see the Old West in person.  Today one of the small downtown areas close to Alder Gulch is the popular Virginia City, where you can see Boot Hill above the main street and learn of vigilantes who went after cattle thieves (and be entertained by musicals, homemade ice cream, old time music machines and souvenier shopping).  The other is Nevada City, an outdoor living history museum of 90 restored buildings.  Here children and adults alike learn about pioneer life and the events that shaped it.

No automatic alt text available.

Among the general store, livery, bootmaker and other structures stands a one-room schoolhouse which was dismantled from the town of Twin Bridges.  It is the oldest standing school in the state.  Beginning in 1867, pupils walked past the red door to read spellers, practice arithmetic on slates, and learn cursive writing. 

No automatic alt text available.

Image may contain: plant, outdoor, water and nature

In the next three months, a wooden sidewalk will lead thousands of visitors past the schoolhouse and other buildings which, combined, teach of a different time and way of life.  Thanks to the State of Montana, which owns it, and the Montana Heritage Commission, which keeps it going, the larnin’ goes on.





Or, The Trouble With Blogging

There are aspects of blogging that really bug me.  For example:

  • In the interest of scholarly research I try to cite sources, especially for photos and graphics.  But some of the best ones are on Pinterest, which directs you to someone’s blog.  Often the author doesn’t tell where it originated from.  Aarrgh!
  • The mechanics of the program I use set the first version in stone on notification emails.  This petrified original photo and blurb don’t change if I find a mistake and correct it, which Facebook will update.  So if you get an email message about a new post on either of my blogs, and something looks out of whack, I probably corrected it.  At least let’s say I did.
  • When I share my blog on FB, sometimes I forget to change the audience to “public” and only my friends can see it.  I WANT the public to see it.  I’ve received several messages from people in groups I’m in saying my attachment is unavailable, which prompts me to change the setting.

blogging firm  (Whomever you are, I appreciate and attribute this fine graphic to, you.)

  • And then there’s blogger’s block.  Same as writer’s block, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration.  Blogger’s block.  That felt good.  Sometimes I think there are no more interesting subjects to write about.  Then my brain gets going again after a meeting I attend, a conversation I have, a movie I watch, a book I read…  And yes, sometimes a random Google search for something else gives me an idea I hadn’t thought about before.
  • I would really like to have a nice, hard copy of my blog year by year.  As yet I know of no one that provides this service, aside from printing and binding it myself.  If I were rich and employed a secretary, I’d have him/her do it and throw the cost to the wind.

We’ll see if the time between writing and publishing this post is proportionate to the number of “blirksome things” I think of.  I bet not.  There are some pitfalls, but more benefits, to writing a blog.  I like it.

Any of my fellow bloggers have a pet peeve?