(Image credit: Hank Stein)

Posted by Ellen

Blodgett Canyon, in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, is a Yosemite-esque sort of place, flanked on the north by sheer granite walls of towering spires that are absolutely irresistible to rock climbers with ropes and stuff.

Our boy Hank climbed Blodgett's 600-foot Shoshone peak twice this spring; the first time, a sudden rainstorm forced a rapid rappelling retreat that left a lot of climbing gear stuck in cracks on the rockface. The second climb, pictured here, was a successful gear-retrieval mission–and also a sun-kissed flirtation with warm spring skies.

Posted by Ellen

In the mountains north of Missoula, Montana, is an old ranch that once supported healthy cattle on healthy grassland but currently lies more or less abandoned; several species of invasive plants had crowded out the native grasses, leaving nothing for animals to eat and also leaving much of the soil exposed to erosion. This summer, ecological restoration students from the University of Montana will work at this site, trying out various strategies to help the land recover.

Recently, the students visited the land to see how it had come through the winter. One elk, at least, did not do well; perhaps weakened by the cold and the poor fodder in the ruined grassland, it was apparently attacked and eaten by hungry predators. The bones looked fresh but were stripped clean.

Posted by Ellen

Climbers retrieve their packs and stow their gear after a day on the rocks in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

Posted by Ellen

Somebody busted down the gate to the basketball court at Marian Anderson Park in our neighborhood. Behind the court, the meticulously maintained baseball field is protected by a much more secure fence.

Posted by Ellen

As Debby and her daughter Lily lit the candles for the first night of Hanukah, Lily's Hanukah bear sat on the kitchen counter just beyond the right edge of this picture. Use your imagination: the Hanukah bear is a stuffed polar bear wearing a yarmulke, with a battery-powered voice. Push the button, and the Hanukah bear sings and sings about a dreidel made of clay.

After the candles were lit and the bear had sung, there were dreidels made of plastic and gelt made of chocolate, plus presents for Lily and latkes for all.

Posted by Ellen

On Highway 26 the other day, just outside of Dubois, Wyoming, in the Wind River Range, this grizzly and her cub crossed the road and scooted up the snowbank while Hank tried to snap her picture.

The snow thereabouts was still four feet deep in mid-May, which is why Hank and his friend Pat found themselves scurrying along Highway 26, south of Yellowstone, on their way back east from Montana. All over Yellowstone and the Tetons, late spring avalanches were closing highways, and the boys found their way blocked repeatedly; they backtracked, looped southward, backtracked again, looped further south, and finally broke out onto the plains.

 

Posted by Ellen

 

Used to be, the city of Portland would set aside a time in June when people could put big pieces of junk--such as unwanted furniture--out by the curb for city garbage trucks to collect. But there are no more Big Trash Days; the service was slashed as a budget-cutting measure. Although city residents are now expected to haul their own stuff to the dump, Jacob Powers found this resting spot a few weeks ago in a couch left out at the curb.

Posted by Ellen

 

Members of Deering High School's Outdoors Club head back down the hill and into the weather after summiting mile-high Mt. Katahdin recently, the highest peak in Maine and northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

As they followed the trail on down into the clouds, they got rained on but good. Fortunately, their youthful high spirits proved to be waterproof.

Posted by Ellen

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Back when this bloom was at its peak of perfection--a few days before Hank took its picture--he spotted it in a greenhouse and decided it was the finest flower ever. He doesn't know what kind of flower it is, and neither do I.

Do you? Please help us out here.