Letter to Stuart McLean

Dear Stuart,


          I live in the snowy mountains of northern Montana, surrounded by miles and miles of pristine forest. People around here like to go snowmobiling, backcountry skiing – and the regular kind, too, at our local ski hill – snowshoeing and even dog-mushing; anything to get outside into the crisp, clean hills during the cold months. I like back-country skiing, which is like cross-country skiing, only you use heftier equipment, so you have a better range and can go in rougher country. One cold day my friend Bonnie and I decided to make a ski trip that would take three or four hours and offer us wide, sweeping views from the ridges, deep powder in the bowls and pleasant interludes of kick- Continue reading

Comets and stars

          Every morning about 6:30 my dog and I take a walk up a quiet dirt road, and admire the stars. There is too much light near my house to see stars, so I relish the quiet, moonless mornings when I can re-acquaint myself with at least the little bit of sky I can see from the bottom of this valley. The other morning I was gazing away when I noticed a peculiar looking star. For a moment I thought it must be an airplane heading this way, or a satellite. I measured the distance between it and a tree top and waited, but it didn’t move. Rather, it did move, but only in a barely noticeable, peculiar jiggling way that made me think of Brownian motion. I looked and looked, blinked my eyes a few times, and wondered if I had had a few shots of whiskey before getting up this morning that I’d forgotten about, then shrugged it off and went home. Later that day I stumbled upon a star chart at nasa.gov that showed the Continue reading