Why I Love Living in Montana: #2

June 18 2005 014I am simply entranced by the smell of Douglas Fir trees on a summer morning.

On these mornings, the wind always picks up as the sun begins peeking over Columbia Mountain.  I emailed Mark Heyka, our awesome local-ish meteorologist (local-ish because he is based two hours south in Missoula, but is responsible for all of western Montana) to ask why this was–I assumed it had something to with cold air/warm air, etc.

This was his response:

Jenny,

Whenever the sun rises, it starts warming the surface air.  When air is warmed, it becomes lighter, or buoyant.  Warmer air rises, and this starts circulations in the atmosphere and wind can be the result.
Thanks for watching First Alert Weather!

Regards,
Mark Heyka
Chief Meteorologist
NBC Montana

(Another reason I love Montana–my meteorologist emails me back the SAME day!)  So there you have it.

Anyway, nothing can compare to that sweet, piney, warm smell of Doug Firs carried on that breeze.  You have to catch it at just the right time though…in the mornings, on abnormally warm nights, when you camp in the middle of forest…it is amazing.  I remark about it every time I smell it, because it is so heavenly.

All places have their uniques scent.  I appreciate the humid, decomposing smell of Florida, the red clay smell of South Carolina, and the fresh but slightly fishy smell of Lake Michigan.  But nothing, nothing! compares to the smell of Douglas Fir trees in Montana on a warming summer morning.

What does your favorite outdoor place smell like?

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Where is My Snow?

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Those who know me know I love extreme weather.  Not the type of extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy, where people lose their lives and homes, but rather loud crashing thunderstorms or big snow.  Highs in the 90s.  Big waves.  (I desperately miss Midwest thunderstorms…but that is for another post)

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So I was excited to move to Montana and experience huge winters–after all, the year before I moved here, there was record snowfall.  Snow at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park was still “sign-high” by the 4th of July!  I imagined blizzards and being cut off from society for a few days, tunneling out the front door,  losing power for a day or two,  carrying supplies behind me on a sled and camping out by the wood stove–you know, like the Laura Ingalls during The Long Winter.  Making button candles from wagon wheel grease and logs from hay…okay…not that far.   649_42907035885_8056_n

There has just always been something that appeals to me about being briefly isolated from society…living in the log cabin in the woods with nothing to rely on but our wits.  We do live in a log cabin.  There are a lot of Douglas Fir trees around our house…but the grocery store is just two blocks away, and I could holler from an open window across the street to my neighbor.  155073_467992105885_323457_n

Nevertheless, I get so terribly excited when a winter weather advisory is posted, when meteorologist Mark Heyka puts up yellow and rarely, red, in the weather tracker as opposed to boring green.  Invariably, the snow fizzles out over the Idaho panhandle, drops south to the Bitterroot, or is swallowed by the Cabinet Mountains.  We have had a few good snows since I’ve lived here, but nothing even close to what I experienced in Michigan.  Heck, I had more snow days in 2 years working in Grand Haven, MI than in all 15 years in Montana.  Schools never close unless wind accompanies the snow (there has to be “emergency travel only”).  Where is my wild, wonderful west? I am rather disappointed.

My husband says if I went snowboarding with him I’d see big snow, but it isn’t quite what I have in mind.  Again, in my imaginings, no one gets hurt and no one suffers from the storm.  We just live inwardly for a few days, watching the power of nature and appreciating our solid home, stocked cupboard and forced family time.  So bring it on, Montana.  I’m waiting.  Besides, the Midwest and East Coast could use a break.

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View from my couch