We can't always head down to the Eastern Sierra when it's cold, and a lot of the time we don't want to. Friends like Darcy Chenoweth and Damian Mast remind us what being in Montana on a crisp February day is all about. The couple live in the Mission Valley of western Montana, an hour's drive north of Missoula. She's a brilliant maker of handcrafted mugs, he's a skilled creator of extraordinary dwellings. Their home and their work and the things that make them excited about life all converge at their home under the Mission Mountains. They were kind enough to allow us to stay in their kickass yurt and eat halibut soup with them last weekend.
It's been a balmy winter in western Montana this year, clear and often up in the 40's and 50's. That's anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees for the rest of the world. Uncanny for almost-Canada. It's a nice environ to step out into and go for a walk or pee the pups, but when the walls are canvas a hearty fire and some good reading are required. I found my eyes captivated by A People's History of the United States and various biographies of Ed Abbey, but my feet overwhelmingly in love with that fire. Making the connection was at times a struggle.
Waylon curled up on the bed. Spoiled dog. He seeks out the most comfortable spots and forms himself into a toasted cashew. We're trying to teach him a healthy love of fire. He seems to comprehend the joys of blankets as it were.
They just don't make fluorescents like this.
Having overcome the mighty gap between the fire and the bookshelf, I picked up A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. A more accurate depiction of the American story, if in shades less triumphant. Not required or even, sometimes, allowed reading for your average high school history class.
The perfect amount of space.
This driveway is a couple miles long. In the winter Darcy and/or Damian plow the thing to get to and from town. Some days it's a multitudinous affair. It's all part of living in the place that they want to be most, and to them is well worth it. Although we were excited for greasy hash browns in St. Ignatius, we were bummed to pull onto the main road again. Darcy and Damian, by living the life you do you are some of the best teachers I know. Thanks a bunch, and we'll be back.
As a trade amongst artists, Darcy gave us some mugs in return for some of Jocelyn's prints. We took them down to the Bitterroot on one of these gorgeous days I was mentioning and did some propagandizing. The best kind. The mugs are perfect, and say things relating to the less civilized on their broadsides. Darcy has a website, where you too can get your handmade good stuff: http://studiochenoweth.com.
And while you're at it, if you need an awesome house built to cubby your awesome mugs, check out Damian's: http://www.mastandco.com.
I sure do love this lil human.