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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Life Goes On

Posted By on Sat, Aug 2, 2008 at 3:02 PM

click to enlarge farmersmarket.jpg

 And that’s a good thing.


I awoke this morning to the sounds of local farmers setting up their tables and tents on 12th Street just off Broadway Avenue in Red Lodge, Montana, as if it were just another Saturday. As if there weren’t 10,000 acres of national forest burning less than 6 miles West of here. When I opened my bedroom window — I’m staying in town for the first time, in a beautiful 19th-century, second-story apartment above that same corner — I could barely smell the soot and smoke from the Cascade Fire. Or maybe I’m just getting used to it.


Anyway, when I went to the living room and raised the shade, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The local farmers were setting up their tables and people were just beginning to stroll down Broadway — barely 8 a.m. local time.


As a writer, I have had the marvelous experience of covering stories that were so good they just seem to write themselves. I imagine that photographers occasionally have the same experience. It’s almost spiritual. I’m no photographer, but the photo above pretty much took itself. If I wanted to assemble a portrait of small town Americana in the face of adversity, I couldn’t have done a better job than what the folks in and around Red Lodge do every day. God bless ’em.


The really good news is that the usual morning inversion didn’t happen today — at least, not to the extent that it usually occurs. That explains the clarity in the mountain skies in the distance. No one up here is being fooled, however. This fire could turn on a dime and come roaring back toward town. Last night a cool front arrived — most welcome — and the winds shifted to the NNE, which pushes the fire away from town. That’s good news, but this blaze is a long way from done.


I’m gonna go check out the market, and then my 15-year-old son arrives for a week of fly-fishing. Yeah, life goes on.

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