Glacier

Aunt Pat was but 10 years old when this photo was taken in 1937. I’d found this photo among her possessions, which I’d occasion to peruse before her passing this spring. I’ve talked about Aunt Pat elsewhere. I know the painting for as long as I can remember. The painting of the mountain scene was hanging in the same position all the while I was growing up and was only moved in the early 70s when Grandma’s house was remodeled.

The painting had been removed to the basement at that time, where it remained for another three-and-a-half decades, and where I snapped the photo below. Note that the left side of the painting is cut off some in the photograph. The painting sits in its original oak frame.

The old photo of Pat and the painting evoked childhood memories of visits to family homestead, Christmas Eve family gatherings, chocolate chip cookies and Grandma’s special roly poly, an strudel-like preparation with apple slices, raisins and cinnamon.

It occurred to me that the painting would be needing a new home after Pat’s passing, or upon any decision to sell the house and property. I didn’t want it boxed off to the church sale, which I feared could happen. I conveyed my interest to both of my Hutch cousins, Pat’s children, saying I’d appreciate a keepsake. They were very obliging.

In my naivete, I had assumed that the picture was a print of a painting that some stranger had created. Despite this, I preferred this picture to any of Grandpa Frank’s original oils, they being scenes of deer camps or deers … a hunting tradition. When I met my cousin Jeff to take possession, he said that Frank had indeed painted this scene and that his signature graced a corner of it somewhere, perhaps under the frame.

Once I brought it into my home I did find his signature: F.J. Zajicek 1931. He would have been 40. So it is a Grandpa Frank original. I had long assumed it to have been a scene from Glacier National Park, but I couldn’t imagine the circumstances under which it had come to be painted. examining it more closely, I discovered subtleties … texture gradations, I’d never before noticed. And I noticed the accumulated grime that is perhaps inevitable if anything hangs for a long enough period of time in a room inhabited by smokers. Pat & Carly wouldn’t have been ones to ever have cleaned it.

The best advised DIY procedure for cleaning is to dab a painting with spit, applied lightly with Q-tips. Subtle enzyme action does the trick, so they say. But it’s a long slow process. I started spitting.

I’d visited the vicinity of Glacier Park recently to visit with friends and partake in the huckleberry harvest. I hoped to get into the park to show a picture of the painting to anyone who might be familiar with those environs. Maybe someone could identify the scene’s location. To no avail. Limitations of time prevailed. Much later upon my return to home and computer I did an internet search for Glacier hiking trails, to see what resources existed that might provide information for future day hikes.

One site had a list of trails, and largely because of a cognitive association I clicked on the Grinnell Lake Trail. My wife had attended and graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa. It was all quite serendipitous. I panned down the page and Behold, there it was, a configuration of mountains identical to that of Frank’s painting.


I located the lake in Google Earth. Wonderful program with which I could, in effect, position myself in relation to a simulated 3D picture showing geographical features. This first picture is an establishing view of the region. Grinnell Lake is the roundish lake at the center of the picture. Above that is the Grinnell Glacier. Just below Lake Grinnell is Lake Josephine.


This picture is the viewpoint from the eastern shore of Lake Grinnell. In the left foreground is the 7,430 foot peak known as Angel Wing. Behind and to the left is 9,553 foot Mount Gould. To the right of the picture is Mount Grinnell, elevation 8,851 feet. You can just see Lake Grinnell. Waterfalls pouring into it are from the Grinnell Glacier, just above.The shorter Angel Wing looms larger than Mount Gould. To achieve the correct perspective we need to back off a bit to the shore of Lake Josephine.


Here the pieces are in order. We see Grinnell Glacier. Above that is the Garden Wall, the serrated comb-ridge spine that separates the Many Glacier region from the Lake McDonald valley. It also marks the continental divide.

The glacier, the lake, the falls and the mountains are named after the anthropologist, historian, naturalist and writer, George Bird Grinnell. Grinnell, who first visited the area in 1885, spent two decades working to establish it as a national park.

In his final visit 1926, Grinnell noted in his journal that “the glacier is melting very fast and the amount of water coming from it is great. All these glaciers are receding rapidly and after a time will disappear.”


Comparative views of the Grinnell Glacier, 1887 and 1952.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Mark Twain

Virtually all I’ve done of any possible consequence has proceeded from imagination confronting printed maps and nautical charts. Maps were - and still are for me - catechism. Place-names posed the questions, and I hunted the answers. To discover in an atlas, say, Dagsboro, Delaware, the questions follow: Have I been there? What’s it like? Any hidden booty?
William Least Heat-Moon, from Roads to Quoz (via rustbeltjessie)

The Last Time I Saw Richard, from Blue, 1971.

In 1979 Mitchell reflected, “The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”

(Source: youtube.com)

Pieces of Blue

There’s a very nice passage in Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Viking 2005. She writes about “the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away … the color of there, seen from here. The color of where you are not.” Quite beautiful.  I’ve included the passage here: The Blue of Desire.

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