Saint James Episcopal Church
203 E. Glendale St.
P.O. Box 1374
Dillon, MT 59725
406-683-2735 (Cell) 334-332-3222
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 24—June 3, 2019
LEAVING BEAVERHEAD MEADOWS
FIVE MONTHS is long enough to come to know a place. We visited Beaverhead Meadows, a 300-acre ranch on the Beaverhead River about five miles south of Dillon for the first time in December 2018. We had come for a “meet and greet” at Saint James Episcopal Church. It was the Second Sunday of Advent. The parish had been without a priest for several months, but Mother Sue had been sick for several years. I preached and celebrated. In a week or so, they asked us to come, and we said yes. Right away. Leigh and I packed her Honda Pilot with enough spare room for the two of us and Nick the Wonder Dog. We bought a rooftop cargo box and stuffed that full. By January 5, we were moved in. On the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, I began work as the rector and priest of Saint James.
Then came the snow. Deep snow covered our vehicles, the roads, everything. It stayed for days and weeks. Winter lasted well after official Spring had arrived. But we were happy and comfortable in the Log Home. Winter never bothered us. Even the howling winds and blowing snow did not discourage us. But leaving the Beaverhead was weighing on my mind throughout April and May. I had learned so much about Montana ranching, weather, wildlife, and black Angus cattle. From the Rockin’ Diamond 4 Ranch, you could see the Rocky Mountains surrounding you from all sides. It was beautiful and amazing. It was the original reason we came to Southwest Montana!
But Spring has finally arrived, and so has our time to leave. The calves have been born in great profusion, and the plowing and irrigation of fields has commenced. The cowboys round up the cows and calves on four-wheelers these days, not horses, and move them to greener pastures with greater efficiency. And still Old Baldy wears his snowy top into 70F days.
We will remember the comfort and the expansiveness of Beaverhead Meadows for the rest of our lives, and we are most grateful to Mary Ann Nicholas for finding us the log home, and Dan and Shannon Keller for leasing it to us.
Work is proceeding steadily on the Little Red House, but we are as yet some days and perhaps weeks away from occupancy. I should know this by now, having bought or built nine homes over our 41 years of marriage—and financed unremembered numbers of homes as a banker! Forbearance is the way.
Peace and blessings,
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 29 – July 12, 2019
GOING TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE a time millions of years ago when the landscape that is now Glacier National Park in northern Montana was a land filled with ice and snow. The vast, deep lakes of the Park are living reminders of once-active glaciers that gouged out enormous valleys, creating such unspoiled beauty and unique vistas as Leigh and I have never before seen.
I don’t want to suggest comparison with any other place or setting, for to do so lessens the magnificence of Glacier National Park as well as the particular beauty of all places. So I will simply try to describe what we saw there and little else.
The river waters are luminescent, varying in color from a deep blue to a pale green. Submerged stones are easily visible from the shore, and once in a while, trout as well. Because Glacier is on the Continental Divide, its rivers and streams are divided into two and at times three separate directions. And the waters run swiftly!
There are still glaciers and remnants of glaciers in the Park, among the high peaks and along the distant ridges. We had assumed that they had melted long ago, but that is not entirely true; a memory remains.
We saw glaciers being destroyed by Global Warming and Climate Change in Glacier Bay National Park on the Inward Passage of Alaska last summer. Glacier Bay is accessible only by water now, but Glacier National Park between Flathead Lake and the Canadian border can still be visited— although the Park is closed because of deep snow about half the year.
The mountains are very steep and heavily wooded with evergreens. The road through the Park twists and turns, and is extremely narrow in places and borders drop-offs of hundreds of feet. We shared the driving among the four of us and that proved to be a good idea.
We were overjoyed to have Margaret and Matt Franks join us on this great adventure. We marked Matt’s 30th birthday with much celebration and sightseeing, and they stayed at the Little Red House before and after the trip. Both are well and happy, living in Birmingham and bringing joy to their families and friends.
Leigh and I encourage you to come to Montana for many reasons, but be sure to make Glacier National Park one of them. At the height of the summer season, the temperatures were in the low 70s and the traffic was entirely manageable. There weren’t a lot of animals to see—but we did come across grizzly bears, deer, big horn sheep, and mountain goats. Remember that there is a lot of wilderness here and fewer roads! And the skies are incredibly blue.
I would be remiss if I didn’t put in a good word for Whitefish, Montana, a mountain town that was progressive, clean, and a happening place. Montana’s economy struggles in many spots, but not Whitefish. In winter there is skiing, snowboarding, ice-fishing, and shopping. In summer, it’s swimming, waterskiing, boating, fishing, and shopping. The only thing it lacks is an Episcopal church.
The one regret I have is that we didn’t get to see William and Christina Wood and their daughter Anna. They were visiting William’s son Marcelle (far right) who is battling pancreatic cancer. Leigh and I were hoping to see Marcelle and his family, so I could lay hands on that brave young man again and pray for his recovery.
Meanwhile, Leigh and I have a new second home, a faithful wonder dog (Nick) and reunited cat (Beckett), and open arms to greet you with when you come.
Peace and blessings,
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 27 – July 4, 2019
WELCOME TO THE LITTLE RED HOUSE
LEIGH AND I ARE HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU to the Little Red House on South Washington Street in Dillon! Geoff and Kay aren’t completely through with the restoration and remodel, but we are overjoyed to be here and we finally feel like residents of Southwest Montana.
The house isn’t a “tiny house” like you would see on HGTV, but it’s close—about 875 sq. ft. not counting the basement. But don’t worry about us at all! Geoff and Leigh decided on an initial approach to “open up” the floor plan, and the result has been an entirely liveable and cozy great room that includes the living room, dining area, and kitchen. Leigh commissioned two stained-glass windows in various shades and shapes of crystal, blue, and gray. She chose furniture the same way, and the effect is very pleasing and comfortable. The wood floors are maple, though buried initially under decades of paint and grime.
We chose a Swedish Barn Red for the exterior, a wonderful idea from Kerriann Martin, a dear friend from back home. The white trim pops out, giving the house character and dimension
Dr. Thomas Fisher, one of my beloved student members at St. Dunstan’s, recognized the exterior color immediately as the exact same red used on all front doors of Episcopal churches! “Red means all are welcome,” Thomas wrote on Facebook recently, “Right?” I answered him, “Yes, just like the red doors of the Episcopal Church! You discovered our message! Thanks, my son. Wells+”
So now you know, whether our neighbors and others in Dillon do or not, what I’ve been saying for 25 years—that all are welcome in the Episcopal Church, and one of the signs of that is the red doors of the church.
Of course, one of the biggest mistakes we make is to assume that all we need to do is paint our doors red and people will know to come. It doesn’t work that way.
This same red, by the way, is the blood red of the Christian martyrs and the blood red of those who gave their lives for this country. The red, white, and blue of our American flag uses a particular red then, not any old red. And that’s also why Leigh and I are flying our American flag on the Little Red House in Dillon—and on our townhouse in Auburn too.
We will be working in the yard this Fourth of July, trying to make grass grow and weeds die; planting bushes and flowers; and putting everything in good and decent order. (Before you know it, all will be covered in deep snow!)
Nick the Wonder Dog will be resting on Independence Day, since Saint James is closed and there are no emotional support dog-duties for him to perform.
The cat, Beckett, recently brought to Southwest Montana by the irrepressible Leigh Warren, is getting accustomed to life in the Mountain West. He has no earthly idea about snow or 20F below zero temperatures, and had his first introduction to fearless Magpies the size of housecats in his own backyard. Most of the time he stays in the basement, like a fraidy cat.
And finally, we are very excited that Margaret and Matt Franks are coming to Montana on Sunday! They will be with us until Friday, and we will spend most of that time in Glacier National Park near the Canadian border.