Sunday, July 7, 2019

Mosaic Monday #35: Montana Freedom

By the time this post is published, another Fourth of July will be history.  The pop-up fireworks stalls will be shuttered.  The left-over hot dogs will be cut up for lunch-time mac and cheese.  The strains of America the Beautiful, performed by a myriad of orchestras to outdoor audiences, will have drifted away into the starry night.

But the pride we feel remains.  The heart-swelling, tear-inducing, got-you-in-the-gut emotion lives on.  I reside in a place that offers freedom on many levels: to recreate on public lands, to practice my religion without fear, to leave my house at any time and be surrounded by the splendor of God's bounty.  I am so grateful, and what better way to say thanks than to show you what this has meant for me during the month of June?


Montana folks are neighborly to start with, but when a man shares his prime mushroom gathering site, it means something.  I was working my normal volunteer shift at the museum, and helping a gentleman with his historical queries.  Out of the blue, he says "Do you like mushrooms?"  "Why, yes," I said, wondering what this had to do with the history of the Stillwater Valley.  "Morel mushrooms?" he asked.  "The best," I said.  And then he proceeded to give me the directions to a spot that had already yielded pounds of this pricy fungus.  "Don't worry," he said.  "There will still be some for you."

And boy, was he on the money.  Morel mushrooms grow best after a forest fire (a silver lining if there ever was one), and I must admit a bit of skepticism when we pulled up to this view.

But within a few hours, Spousal Unit and I had gathered six pounds between the two of us, a market value of $120.  Well worth the gas it cost to get there!  Spousal Unit has become quite the expert on preserving this valuable commodity, from drying them on strands of embroidery thread to coating large morels in flour and freezing them (the flour prevents them from sticking together).  And, by the way, he returned a week later and collected another 6 pounds by himself in less time, which is NOT a comment on my ability!

By the way, just across the road from the fire site is a meadow packed with alpine flowers.  What a difference a few feet and courageous firefighters can make!

Well, you have to do something with all those 'shrooms.  Top a steak.  Put 'em in an omelet (which is already a glorious dish seeing as it's made with farm-fresh eggs courtesy of our neighbors over the road).  Make a risotto.

And if your Spousal Unit happens to go to Missoula to pick up his early birthday present and passes the Windmill Bakery on the way, he just has to snag a donut or two.  What does this have to do with mushrooms?  Nothing.  But it sure is fine dining!


So you may be wondering how I maintain my svelte figure with all these gourmet meals.  Faithful readers could answer this one: running, gardening, hiking, kayaking, and walking.  It gives me great joy and peace to stroll our back 40. Joining my dear neighbor friend for a walk in the woods or a paddle around her lake burns some calories, and her delightful company is a bonus.  Nature presents an ever-changing palette of plants, animals and skies.  Here's a selection from the month.

All of the above pictures are from the trail camera
Upper left: Prickly rose; Upper right: Willow - not sure what type      Bottom: the turquoise of Ashley Lake
This sandhill crane is "owning" my neighbor's driveway as its own personal runway
Top: Yours truly kayaking with my dear neighbor friend
Middle: Twinflower
Bottom: Bunchberry
ONE BEAR, TWO BEAR     (all pictures are from trail cameras)
Top pictures appear to be a skinny yearling black bear
Bottom pictures are a LARGE black bear
Upper left: Willow now in catkin stage     Upper right: dusk reflected in the lake at the bottom of our property
Bottom left: young pike was flipping about in shallow water on the WRONG side of the dam until I threw him back
Bottom right: a gift from neighbors - perfect for me!
Upper left: fawns are never far from Mom - she is just out of the frame 
Upper right: Buck seeking shelter from the hail         Bottom: a fine young bull elk
All above pictures from trail cameras
Some of the pictures above would not be possible without a drone (which I don't have) or a pair of rubber boots (which I now have, a marvelous gift from my dear neighbor friend).    After tromping around in the woods together, she just decided it's what I needed.  Isn't that what true friends are all about?
As we know, all play and no work makes Jill a dull girl.  Yes, the month brought its share of garden projects.  Major weeding - always!  But there was more.

In a previous post, I shared the construction of our jackleg fence.  In June, we added flower baskets to several sections of the fence.  Chicken wire, coconut fiber, potting soil and plants.  Voila!

Boy yellow marigold; Antigua mix marigold; New Look Dusty Miller;
transplants of coreopsis
Digging drainage ditches that conform to Mother Nature, as she tends to show us during major rain storms.
We completed this on June 23, 4 days before the almighty hail storm.  It was not up to the task, sadly
Self-seeding can be wonderful, as in the case of this coreopsis.  But it can also benefit from shaping.
Left: mid-June - a riot of growth         Right: a little separation creates a sense of order

Of course, with freedom comes responsibility.  At the beginning of June, I organized the clean-up of the six miles of Highway 2 closest to our neighborhood.  Of course, this translates to 12 miles since BOTH SIDES of the roadway need attention.  Over the course of two Saturdays, and some additional time on the part of Dear Neighbor Friend and yours truly, we collected over 110 bags of trash.  My heartfelt thanks to all those who participated.
Not pictured: Dear Neighbor Friend and Yours Truly!


Regardless of where you live, how have you enjoyed your freedom lately?

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


  1. So many beautiful mushrooms and lovely wildlife photos. I love visiting you.

  2. How lucky were you with the mushroom supply! Such a pleasure to see your area and the wildlife. Well done on the road clean up.

  3. WOW, WOW and more WOW! I think we’ve fallen in love with your neck of the woods. That was quite the mushroom score!

  4. You are a great citizen and neighbor. Oh yes, those boots are a necessity for sure. What a generous neighbor. Speaking of generous how nice for the morel mushroom tip! You live life well dear girl!

  5. That sandhill crane is awesome. Love the first profile picture captured by the trail cam along with all the other creature captures. That is a mighty fine looking bull elk. Wow! What a mushroom haul. You can do so much with them and with the 12 lbs you collected, you've got plenty to experiment with. Kudos to everyone who collected trash from the highway.

  6. Hello, that is a great supply of mushrooms. I love the mushroom risotto, yum. pretty captures of the cranes, deer and the bears. Kudos for organizing the road clean-up. The views of the lake are beautiful. Thanks for hosting MM! Enjoy your day and I wish you a happy new week!

  7. How wonderful to organize a clean up! You're a 'go getter' and I love that about you! How nice to have a good place to get outside and tromp around whenever you want! I've taken advantage of the freedom to get out in the woods this weekend and feel great! Happy Mosaic Monday! Enjoy the fruits of your labor...oh and that doughnut too!

  8. That was certainly an eventful month, Angie. Eventful but enjoyable and fulfilling too, judging from your wonderful photos. Great to see how life is in your part of the world through your camera lens.

  9. PS: Thanks for hosting and all the best for July!

  10. always lots to see here. I'm amazed at the mushrooms and your confidence in which ones to eat. over 110 bags of trash... what the fizzy? why are people lobbing it out there? Good for all of you to pick it up for everyone. Beautiful shots as always, feel like I've been there. Do you feel busy? You sure seem very busy to me, for a "retired" person lol

  11. Sorry, for my late comment. I was busy, worked again in the wellknown old mill.

    I enjoyed your Post. It's a great pleasure to see the fantastisc captures of the nature around.

    Thank you for hosting. Happy MosaicMonday

  12. Beautiful Independence Day motifs. Happy mosaic Monday. Here in T&T we celebrate our independence in August

    much love...

  13. Such a wonderful post! It shows so much of the beauty of our state. And you sure know how to enjoy each day. Have a great July! Kit to the south

  14. Dear Angie - A bountiful harvest of mushrooms and nice meals, wildlife and flowers in the beautiful nature show how you enjoy your life to your heart’s content. I really like the smiling faces of the clean-up members, so beautiful.


  15. How wonderful of you to organize the clean up! We always pick up the few pieces of trash we find when we're out hiking or walking. I'm happy to say that it's not much. Morel mushrooms are scrumptious - what a great find!

  16. What lovely gifts!
    Great photos of all.
    Good work collecting garbage. We've done this, as well. It really feels good.

  17. I love nature too. We've been foraging for black raspberries and tart cherries. Free. The freedom to forage is the best free!

  18. The critters are quite a sight to see!

  19. Your wildlife photos are awesome. Thanks for hosting.

  20. Wonderful wild life in your neighbourhood, even if I would not love to live as a neighbour to a pair of black bears :) You are making such a beautiful planting aerea - it shall be fun seeing how it develops. Yes, freedom in all its aspects is the first and worth of being thankful for! In so many countries this is non existent. Thank you for your lovely impressions of June Angie!

  21. Wow to all the wildlife - especially those bears!

  22. I love the Bear, and the Sandhill Crane, pure beautiful.

  23. I'm so pleased you enjoyed 4th July Angie. I always sense a great degree of patriotism on your side of the Atlantic. Sadly our own English patriotism seems to have taken a tumble for a number of years. I hope that when we finally leave the European Union we will take an example from your good selves.
    As you say, sharing a mushroom site and one so productive is a rather special way of making friends, not quite finding gold in them thar hills, but almost. I love mushroom soup made from real mushrooms.

    Good to see your team out on the trash trail. Nice work but such a pity you have to clean up after others.

  24. Kudos to you for cleaning up the trash. It is just too bad that people can't be convinced not to create it in the first place. I am always wary of these excessive displays of so called patriotism which so often descend to levels of xenophobia, jingoism and intolerance.

  25. What a beautiful life you live! Amazing nature, sharing with good friends, and giving back to your community.

  26. Marvelous mosaic post and photos ~ Love the bear, deer and elk! Wow!

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  27. Hi ya, Angie! I love your post. It's good to be reminded what the Fourth is all about. This year a lot of people in town bought illegal mortars to burst into the air, which had me wondering if they get it.
    Your neck of the woods looks gorgeous. So green and wildernessy! That bear, though, oh my.

  28. Nice to catch up on your news and photos, Angie. I love the cross stitch and hope you had a lovely 4th weekend.

  29. lovely first and second images....
    as always, thank for sharing your wonderful photos....

    # happy 4th of July

  30. The animals are a sight to see. What great photos and a wonderful post. Have a great weekend, Angie.

  31. You are eating very well. I love mushrooms of all kinds but my spousal unit not so much.
    I love all your nature pics, good for staying active, and then doing good.
    Gotta have a well rounded life and looks like you are there.
    Have a great weekend.

  32. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my journal illustrations. I don't do it for every entry, just the ones that have something interesting (and easy) to draw. I'm no good at doing people so there are only a few cartoonish faces in a few. But it's lots of fun. When I did writing pen ink only they were easier, but adding the watercolour pencil has been fun. The moisture doesn't mess up the paper in the journal so far. - Margy

  33. Lovely, patriotic post. More should take pride in the roadside, good job :)
    I love the garden and fence-post flowers!
    I don't care for mushrooms, but Hubby sure does!

  34. WOW! So much to see in your post.
    Loved all the mushrooms and a wonderful variety of wildlife photographs.

    A great post.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    All the best Jan

  35. we enjoy our freedom every day, don't we...and often take it for granted. it is something we should think about every single day!!

    good eats, and a good healthy lifestyle!!

    amazing mushrooms, i buy them in the food store ;)

  36. Thank you for sharing us education, please kindly visit mine :D



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