The West

When we were kids growing up in the Bible Belt, my mother used to threaten to wash our mouths out with soap if we told dirty jokes. Like a lot of kids in that era, in that place, my older brother and I used to try and juke her out by using off-color biblical references that involved the hint of slightly naughty words.

my brother: “Hey punk, who was the the most flexible man in the Bible?”

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Two Rivers Detention Facility, Hardin MT (photo courtesy city of Hardin)

Al-Jazeera? Yes, that network. The local news gave it all the shock-value of an invasion of the Taliban. In reality, the crew was two white dudes — one from D.C., one from Canada. It looked more like the invasion of the Nordic News Network. Not since Dick Cheney and his fishing guide swooped down in a Blackhawk helicopter to fish the nearby Bighorn have two white dudes garnered so much attention in Hardin.

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Congressman Denny Rehberg (Montana’s sole Representative) is making much of his “cutting-edge” social networking props, including Twitter and Facebook. How is this man supposed to be in any kind of realistic command of our state’s representation while he is still mired this deeply in his own infancy?

Is he so lost in his own navel-gazing delusions that he believes snarky and petulant comments pass as leadership?

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He wasn’t very large by bull moose standards, with a fairly small set of antlers. He didn’t look healthy in fact. He was standing ankle-deep in the river, watching us, not moving, almost unsteady on his legs. Something about the way he was standing didn’t seem “right.” Of all the animals I do not want to tangle with, a bull moose, particularly a sick one, ranks near the top.

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Stillwater River, inside the A-B boundary, on the trail to Sioux Charley

4:30 A.M. Pitch black. Deep winter. Nothing but darkness and cold. Jack Ballard and I are making time up the trail before first light for an end-of-the-season deer hunt. The light from my headlamp swings back and forth, making me dizzy. I turn it off and move silently up the canyon. We’re aiming for a spot about three miles up and across the river…Out of nowhere it hits us — a howl comes straight out of the darkness.

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17a, a pregnant Romney, ambles into the chute and stops. Her fleece corkscrews out from her body sending out shoots of thick wool in all directions. Grace, my ten-year old daughter, buries her hands deep into the wooly fleece and smiles. She runs off to find Anabel Lombard, the ewe’s owner, to have her to hold 17a’s fleece once it’s sheared. Grace has never chosen a fleece before. She goes with her intuition; with the way her hands feel buried into the ewe’s wool, with the way the ewe stops, tilts her head back, and looks up at this girl leaning over the railing, as though asking to be chosen.

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