Thursday, January 21, 2016


The tail end of January is always problematic.  The snow is sodden, but there have been enough mild breaks to make it worthwhile for someone to scrape the parking lots clear, piling it all into small mountains at the edge.  There really hasn’t been much snow this winter so I’ve been able to avoid the town store and its politics.  Those who can afford it are taking their Mexican vacations now.  My posts are repetitious or obscure and attracting piggyback commenters.  I wish they’d go write their own blogs. 

Last night I was very much aware that a little group of teen boys had flared up with the need to be their own bosses, which has happened (almost a rite of passage) since long ago Blackfeet days.  In my time (Sixties) it was Galen Upham who diverted one of the Glacier Park buses on a moonlit night up over Going to the Sun highway, but he was all alone, it was summer, and he survived easily.  I wrote a little play in which time buckled, and up there on the pass Galen met a young Amskapi Pikuni man from the Longago who was seeking a vision.  We never “produced” it, but the idea was sneaking around in our minds both before and after.

Last night this present group of boys, who are very hip and know the world better than they know themselves, took off in a snowstorm in mountains.  We are all grateful that they landed in a motel rather than a snowbank.  Particularly since some years ago a little splinter of this same group went off in a car, crashed, and came to the attention of police.  One of those boys died.  He was one I particularly cared about, though I care about even the ones I don’t know.  I know they exist and they’re there.  That's enough. 

This yesterday’s renegades have gone home.  THEIR home, a safe place if they can stand the confinement, which is not easy.  They are there voluntarily, but they want to set their own boundaries.  They want the future now.

Sometimes I get restless myself and begin to think about places like Mexico.  It’s not just that it’s warm, but also to escape local social uproar as scared and angry people try to do something about their powerlessness, their poverty, their constant victimized victimness.  A lot of people escape by denying that victims exist, but I can’t do that.  A lot of people make big money out of victims.  I can’t do that either.

Cats have been here

When it gets to be too much, my dependable resource is a kitchen midden of books, 'zines, sewing projects — many things begun and not finished.  Closure, or lack of,  is one of my character flaws and partly the reason is that if everything gets finished, there will be no supply/demand left.  If I finish, maybe time itself will end.  This is not realistic — every project leads to a half-dozen more.  It’s like learning things — it unfolds to new things to learn.  The boys don’t know yet that the boundaries they are resisting are not the ones that will ultimately limit them.  I’m talking about the ones they create in themselves.

If projects don’t work, there is another remedy and it’s one that boys know: loud music.  But even if I wanted to investigate their kind of music, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  So today’s post project started with a video supplied by Aeon, which is an Australian/British online magazine of rather high-brow and idealistic thought.  Ironically, today's vid is about a female cello player in the Wallowas, which are Oregon mountains as well as Chief Joseph’s tribe, the Nez Perc√©.  They went on an historic runaway from confinement that ended badly somewhat east of here.  Some issue: setting their own boundaries.

Narcissa Whitman

Wait -- why ironic?  Yesterday I was reading about the Oregon/Washington martyr missionary, Narcissa Whitman, who in my youth was held up as a big example of who a woman ought to be, but is now reframed as a cranky misplaced meddler whose murder by Indians was understandable.  Her boundaries were far too small and limited.  Small virtue is no virtue at all.  

I’m too old to lug big musical instruments up mountains, even if I could play them, but I easily accept the premise that humanly patterned arts can meet and mesh with mountains.  That’s more than “beautiful.”  It’s meaningful.  These boys — whom I think about all the time — know it. 

Ruth Boden


Tony said...

I am reveling in the discovery of your blogs. Any chance we could meet on our next trip to the Browning area?

Mary Strachan Scriver said...

Sure. Give me an email and I'll send you the address, etc. I'm not in Browning. I'm in Valier.