Innocence

Look into the eyes of innocence. What do you see?

 
 

I see a memory, a moment, something unforgettable. I see stories, lots of them. Perhaps some like this, stood out from the rest. I see the whole state of Montana. I see the people that made this journey possible, the mountains and trees that kept me sane. Of course, I see a goat, and I can picture his mother not far behind. I can hear the camera shutter clicking, and imagine his reaction once again. I still remember the rock I sat upon, and how uncomfortable it was, just as I remember reassuring myself to stay still and be cool - it's just a goat man, it's just a goat. I can picture the look on my face, as I first glanced at the back of my camera. Tom's too, as I showed him the result of the encounter. Beyond the goat, I see my evening hikes in Yellowstone and Red Lodge, listening to the birds and the creeks rushing through camp. The marmots squeaking outside the tent, as I sat atop the Beartooths, braving the 40mph gusts of frigid wind. I can feel each breath of air I fought for up there, as I battled elevation and the thoughts in my own head. I can see the hikes out, and the drives down the pass each night. I can see the Flat again, as if I were still there. I can see the open road that never seemed to end, and how quickly everything changed once it did. In the end, I feel the drive to get back to you, Montana. 

 

As I sit on my summer porch in New York, I reflect. I will relive this journey through words, and photographs, and memories, until I experience it again, in all of its forms. 

 

Look into the eyes of innocence. What do you see? 

I see all of these places, the places I want to be.

 

Kyle 

The Tree of Light

The Tree of life, the Tree of light.

 
Custer 6-12-18.jpg
 

When the sun finally sets, and the stars come out, the whole dynamic of the world changes. I just don't know how to explain it. The power of the stars is simply unexplainable, and so fitting. I love to wonder how it all got there, but I do not wish to solve it. For if anything was intended to be forgotten by science, left unsolved, unknown, perhaps it be the stars. I can't help but thank the milky way sometimes. It is a perfect fit for the solitude I experience out here, and it helps me know for certain that I am not alone.  

Clear nights don't come around too often this time of year, but when they do, they are special. They are each unique in themselves and always unforgettable. Every photograph holds with it a memory so vivid, placing me right back in the moment. This time it was the great horned owl, hooting away his evening song beside me as the camera shutter clicked. It was the river of nighttime breeze sifting through the sagebrush and grasses alike. And the lone ponderosa pine; stood out from the others, glowing with the light from a distant Wyoming city, framing a scene I will not soon forget. It was the Tree of light, the Tree of life.

Kyle   

Montana

Short and sweet; the theme for this post. But that's not to say I haven't been writing a ton.

Oh Montana...

It's been a whirlwind of events, emotions, people, places, birds, mountains, grasslands and more, all within the two weeks I've been out west. Montana is a combination of everything you can think of, whether it be geographically, socially, politically, you name it. It's as if each corner of the country some how found itself here and never left.

I started here: 

 
 

Flathead National Forest. Condon, in particular. Heaven. On. Earth. Fifty miles from Glacier National Park, peaks in the tens of thousands of feet, one of the most wild places I've ever visited, surrounded by some of the best people I've ever had the chance to spend time with. This was our location for training. It was a rather rigorous week, packed tightly with early alarms and lots of coffee, but the learning, the experiences, the laughs and constant excitement of a new place made it all worth while. A week was not nearly enough, Condon. I could've stayed forever.

My assignment for the summer covers a large portion of Montana, focused primarily in the south. Out of 27 breeding bird transects I'll be completing, nearly all of them are scattered amongst the overwhelmingly flat and barren terrain of the state. This hit me hard on the first day, as I sat alone on the back of my car, before a 2,000 acre cattle ranch, contemplating why I had taken a job in such a place. My heart was in Condon, and I was out East. Luckily, I broke free from this mindset. I have since fallen for this place, and undoubtedly begun to embrace it. As everyone has been saying to me, THIS is Montana. Without this job opportunity, I may have never seen it. There are not many people here to begin with; even fewer in the places I go. There is something to be said for that. 

I have since named this part of Montana, The Flat.

If I've learned anything thus far, it's to keep an eye out for the surprises in The Flat; the little badlands and canyons tucked in here and there, the oases of ponderosa forests every few hundred miles, the rattlesnakes and coyotes that share the sunrises, and the endless opportunity to discover. And, it's my home.  

Soon enough, I will be ending my season back in the mountains of Red Lodge - some of the tallest in Montana. I can't say I wouldn't go today if given the opportunity, but I will say that I'm looking forward to the rest of my time here. I've grown to appreciate The Flat, and look forward to all of the surprises I have yet to come across. 

To the adventures ahead.

Kyle