Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our First Date

Our first date with Glacier was like many other first dates. The courted one, Glacier, presented itself with modesty and humility, almost shrouded in mystery. Literally, it was wrapped in a thick, impenetrable blanket of clouds, likened to the designs of old time Chastity Belts or Bundling Sacks. It was as if Glacier was not going to reveal all of its beauty and magic on the first date, oh no, there must be more courting involved for that to happen. Glacier demands patience so that its virtue won’t be questioned.

However, in its reticence and reserve (something we both found intriguing), hidden treasures were revealed that may have gone unnoticed had such an atmosphere not appeared this day. Little subtleties that would otherwise be overlooked because they simply fade into the background were very apparent and vibrant set among this quiet, guarded and mystic space.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time who is very active and energetic, talking a million miles a minute. It is all you can do to focus on what is being said and not getting lost in the deluge of words falling all around you. When you part from said company, you can hardly remember their eye color, hair color or possibly even their name…you are just exhausted and relieved to be alone…in silence.

Now, imagine meeting someone who is a bit more reserved…quiet. Not rude or standoffish, but truly wanting something important to occur during the conversation. You notice little things when it is still and quiet, like the way their mouth curls up into a small grin when their dialog partner says something amusing, or how their hands find things to fiddle with, or how they might twirl their hair…or the color of their hair and even eyes for that matter. Little subtleties that can only be discovered when the light isn’t shining so brightly.

That is Glacier on this, our first date. Due to the thick clouds, rain and overall grayness of the day, it seemed as if all bright colors called in sick and stayed in bed. This left a pallet of whites, grays, blacks, browns and even some shades of dark green. This was their day to shine! Without having the brilliance of the yellows, blues, purples, reds and bright greens to compete with, these muted, less appreciated, colors jumped at the opportunity to present us with another side of Glacier most miss, or don’t appreciate.

The first to capture my full attention were the Aspen trees, but not for the reasons you may think. The Aspen’s white bark is usually overpowered by their leaves, either wild greens or bold yellows depending on the time of year, and the plain, white trunks are never truly seen for their own splendor; but, in a world of shaded grays, blacks and browns, they truly jump out from the forest and into your car they are so bold! Proud, they are! You can feel it. It is amazing.

Then, as I focused more and more on what was being said by Glacier, I picked up a hint of bright green, almost fluorescent, peaking from the trunks of trees and the forest floor. It was moss. Plain ole moss. But, in this light, or lack thereof, it glowed, as if someone flipped on a light switch that lit up the moss when the clouds appeared. Otherworldly, as James would say…otherworldly.

Like any other first date, some history must be shared to establish foundation and roots. Glacier did this in a most fascinating way. While driving around, we would notice small wisps of clouds mingled among the pine trees. They weren’t horizontal, as if lazing on the branches of the trees, but vertical, making their way up the mountains to their larger cloud friends hanging out in the sky. It looked like ancient smoke signals from Indians past, and that makes perfect sense, as this is Blackfeet country. This is Glacier’s past, history, and this is how it shared its story with us.

Now, there was SOME color around, but not a lot. Surprisingly, some of the trees have already started to change; like movie trailers announcing the upcoming Autumn season. Mostly they are the smaller trees, Aspens, and the dominant color is yellow, but even the yellow is muted, like the color of freshly churned butter. Occasionally there would be flashes of reds, but not too many at all. I did pick up another color while driving, though since I was driving, it was difficult to focus on the tree to determine what it was. So, I asked James if he knew. I pointed out up in the mountains patches of what appeared to me to be trees the color of burnt brick, a very deep, dark red, set alongside the green pine trees. After he had some time to look, he reported back that they were dead pine trees. Sad. But, even in their death, they are beautiful and offer a striking contrast next to their living relatives.

Towards the end of the date we started receiving signals that things were looking up! The Bundling Sack, or clouds, started loosening up a bit and beams of laughter, or sun, illuminated the area. So, as with any good courtship, we will continue our journey into the soul of Glacier and see what more it has to offer. We will keep you posted!

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