Mountain High 

While some poor souls at the Indy never know if their words are read or just used to line bird cages, such is not the case for Comrade Calendar. Each week, my jumbo-sized mail slot is packed to the gills with vociferous outpourings of sentiment from fixedly engaged readers just like you. Every now and again, when we find ourselves between seasons, or when I don’t have some grand adventure to recount, I toss a dipper into the mailbag and see what I can dredge up.

Here’s one of my favorites:

“Dear Comrade,

As an avid powder hound, I find America’s present lack of snow disturbing. Despite predictions that this will indeed be an epic winter, I find myself contemplating a move for more northerly climes to hedge my bets. The problem is that I just helped elect Obama, and so my question is this: Should I stick around and make sure he really brings us change we can believe in, or is it cool to flee to the socialized snowfall of the Canadian Rockies?

—Between Barack and a Gnar Place”

To you, B.B.G.P., I could offer bumper sticker advice, like “Follow Your Bliss,” or “Don’t Postpone Joy,” but that’s not what you need to hear. You helped get us here, but really, we haven’t gone anywhere yet. I mean, Bush is still president, for Pete’s sake. While your notion of becoming a snow-seeking draft dodger is both romantic and nostalgic, I caution against such a maneuver. The snow will come. Just relax, head downtown to stuff a few envelopes or make some phone calls and before you know it, you’ll be up to your armpits in the fluff. And you won’t have to seek amnesty in 20 years either. It’s a win-win.

The rest of us—the ones who wouldn’t even dream of fleeing to Canada—need some stuff to do this week as well, which is why the light of my life is currently the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., which hosts an enlightening birding event, Project Feeder Watch, at 7 PM on Thu., Nov. 13. Pick up helpful tips on identifying this winter’s avian visitors—handy skills for the Audubon Society’s impending Christmas bird count—and get the scoop on making a set of homemade binoculars. Call 327-0405.  

There’s activity bubbling once again in the cauldrons of the Rocky Mountaineers, who invite you to undertake a scramble up Chaffin Creek in the Bitterroots on Sat., Nov. 15. The best guess is a 14-mile round trip, with your response dictating the details. Talk about democracy. E-mail Joshua at

While those peak-baggers mosey off into the distant haze, others will stick around Missoula to ensure their winter’s supply of warmth. You see, each year hundreds of trees are felled throughout town, and their battered corpses are dumped in a lot on the Northside. And on Sat., Nov. 15, starting at 9 AM, you can rummage through the pile of massive rounds during a Free Firewood Giveaway at the corner of Rodgers Street and Coal Mine Road. Missoula’s Urban Forestry Division, as your host, requests that you leave the power tools at home, load your own wood—seriously, they’ve got huge wood—and call 552-6258 if you need more convincing.  

Once the wood’s warmed you up, the warmth of UM’s University Center beckons. Local raptor booster and author Kate Davis signs her book Falcons of North America at 10:30 AM at Fact & Fiction in the UM bookstore on Sat., Nov. 15. Word on the street is that the book’s exquisite photos are matched by Davis’ in-depth presentation of the physical attributes that keep falcons at the top of their game, but you’d better check it out to make sure I’m not yanking your chain. Call 243-1234.

And who says we have to spend time out-of-doors this weekend? Not the builders and promoters of Missoula’s newest indoor skate park, Fifty Two, which throws wide the doors for an open house at noon on Sat., Nov. 15. Head about two miles west past the airport, turn to the north on Roller Coaster Road and look for 8196 El Way, where demos, lessons and free stuff abound until the 9 PM hour. Call 241-2476.   

My advice to all you potential ship jumpers, again, is to stay put and let the Canadians come to us, which they predictably do as the Banff Festival of Mountain Films touches down in UM’s University Theatre at 6 PM on Sun., Nov. 16. This distillation of the best offerings from Alberta’s annual event makes two additional stops at Flathead High School at 7 PM on Tue., Nov. 18, and Wed., Nov. 19, so consider us well-loved by those loonies of the north. Call 243-5172.

Darkness is nothing to fear, and you can help your little ones aspire to walk unaided through the night forests of their adulthood when you join other families for a kid-friendly Lantern Walk beginning at 6 PM at the Greenough Park Pavilion on Sun., Nov. 16. Bring your own light, or use one of the provided lanterns, and be ready to part with three measly bucks per family. Call 543-4414.

And we close this column with another nod to the Montana Natural History Center, where Rocky Mountain Research Center biologist John Squires presents a gripping portrait of the solitary and sexy Canada lynx at 7 PM on Wed., Nov. 19. This one’s for the adults, and you’re asked to cough up three greenbacks as well. Call 327-0405 to request a fee waiver. 

So, to recap: Sit tight, wait for the powder and pass the time by figuring out how to help our administration-to-be begin to clean up this mess.
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