The Old Walk Home

(This reflection was originally aired on MTPR’s Reflections West in 2015.) When I was in grade school I used to walk home backward so I could keep my eyes fixed on my section of the Rockies called the Rattlesnake. I don’t know what it was I thought I wouldn’t see if I turned away, but I…


Somewhere along the way, I became infested with the need to have the right things–nice things, new things–which are always more expensive, but not necessarily better than no things or old ones. My grandmother was a tough, unsentimental woman from Butte, and she gave me the postwar toys my mother played with when she was…


What is it about a cottonwood in spring covered in dry leaves that didn’t fall in autumn when it froze? Why, when the wind blows through, do I stop and listen, and why is that rattle so specific, so unlike any other dry leaf on any other tree? It’s loud, but gentle. Instrumental. Percussive. Hollow….

That February Feeling

This morning, as I was walking to work, I heard something distinctly springy: birdsongs that were not house sparrows, our perpetual feathered companions. I thought they might have been warblers, scouting the cottonwoods along the banks of the Clark Fork.