By Harald Wyndham
Photos by John Lowry
On a Thursday afternoon in mid-winter, a snowstorm drives flakes horizontally past the windows of Walrus & Carpenter Books in Pocatello.
I sit snug by a small gas stove, my feet stretched toward the heat, having a cup of coffee and a conversation with the owner, Will Peterson, a casually dressed, lanky bohemian with a shock of unmanageable black hair and a grin that puts one at ease and in the mood to talk. And talking about ideas, life, philosophy, writers famous, infamous, and unknown, small-town intrigue, the future of mankind, and the contents of the volumes that crowd the shelves of his Dickensian bookstore is precisely what Will enjoys more than anything, except perhaps writing a novel about it. Continue reading →
The four of us slosh against ankle-deep water that slowly drains through the underground tunnel.
I occasionally look back down the corridor, framed by basalt bedrock, toward daylight entering the shaft’s ever-shrinking opening. I double-check my headlamp. While I don’t feel claustrophobic, underground exploration is not really my thing, and as much as possible I’d like to keep tabs on where I am. I continue to follow the group, fairly confident in the knowledge that two of the others have trod here before. Continue reading →
It’s 5:30 on a frigid Saturday morning in January. My alarm wakes me from a dreamless sleep, and I nearly jump out of bed. My bedroom is dark and the hardwood floor is cold as I walk to the kitchen to start my pre-race ritual. This morning at nine I will be racing in the Wilson Creek Frozen 50K in the Owyhees southwest of Nampa, although I will be competing in the ten mile (about sixteen kilometers) race. The thought of running more than that on a cold Saturday morning in January seems a bit crazy. I start the coffee and check my phone for the current weather conditions: minus-four degrees and fog.
Continue reading →
On a day in May 2006, it was so unseasonably hot at the Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG) in Boise that canopies were erected to provide shade for attendees at the grand opening of the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden.
I was there that day, a local botanist and avid native plant gardener who had served on an advisory committee for the new garden. At the time, I didn’t know that the following spring I would join the IBG horticultural team as the person responsible for making the native plant garden grow. Continue reading →
Such a contradiction, I think. Cradling the neck of a violin is the hand of a fourteen-year-old girl, whose purple-painted fingernails evoke thoughts of mall excursions and pop star posters on bedroom walls.
And yet, these fingernails are moving back and forth feverishly, controlling the strings of the instrument masterfully. These young hands dressed in purple are as capable as an adult’s and I am fascinated, struck dumb as I feel the corners of my mouth lift up in joy. Continue reading →
By Wallace J. Swenson
A bead of sweat, born in the region of the youngster’s hairline, started its journey down. Stealthily, it crept across the furrowed skin of his forehead, wound its way through the roots of his eyebrow, and paused.
Aware of it, the young hunter concentrated harder on the peep sights of his Mossberg .22 rimfire target rifle. Held rock-steady, the front sight remained centered on the left eye of the fourteen-hundred-pound bull moose that stood chest deep in the water forty feet offshore. Continue reading →
Why haven’t I stopped here before, I asked myself as we photographed Canada geese wading in the ponds near Springfield on state Highway 39 in southeastern Idaho. I’d driven past Springfield many times in the past on our way to fishing and boating places along the American Falls Reservoir, which backs up almost where Springfield begins. Except to fish the lake once, I’d never spent any time there until recently. Then I met Kay Savage and Linda Bohrer, sisters and descendants of pioneers.
They grew up, attended school, married, and settled down where their roots were, as did other residents. For the town’s centennial celebration three years ago, these two compiled a trove of information, stories, and photos of early and present day Springfield, and they graciously shared their knowledge with me.
Boarded-up businesses, seemingly abandoned buildings, and no people in sight save a fisherman in a pontoon boat on the pond don’t exactly invite exploration. But drive off the highway down Chandler Road toward a charming little park above Springfield Lake and you understand. As part of the centennial celebration, residents erected a monument in the park to all the pioneer families, whose grit and determination settled the area and created the tight-knit community that remains. This place is steeped in history.
The first white people who came through the area, after the Shoshone-Bannock people, were most likely freighters heading from northern Utah to the mines in Montana or across the valley to the Salmon area. Later, wagons heading for Oregon on the Goodale’s Cutoff would have crossed the desert and stopped for water at Danilson Springs, the original name of the town. Continue reading →
When my package failed to arrive again last week, I phoned customer service. The unaffected voice across the wireless connection replied, “The mailroom didn’t get the fax.”
Interpretation: “I’m sorry, I forgot to fax the order to the mailroom so they would know to ship it.” In fairness, her words were accurate and informative. And, if she managed to fax the order yet that day, the mailroom clerk would receive it, and I’d eventually receive my package.
Years ago, when I was studying Spanish, I was a wide-eyed guest in an Argentine home. We were sitting around a cozy breakfast table when my hostess dropped an open carton of milk as she turned from the fridge. She used a word I couldn’t later find in my dictionary, then added, “La leche se me cayo’.”
She hurried, armed with a dishcloth, to staunch the spreading river of milk. I sat inert and laboriously translated her words in my head.
Life is full of tiny epiphanies. She wiped and wrung and wiped and wrung while I worked through the translation. I dawned with a new understanding—just as she rose from her hands and knees. I was pleased with my ability to translate the phrase, but better, the effort brought new meaning.
Directly translated, she had said, “Bleep. The milk fell from my hands.” Continue reading →