The reading was great – I felt very welcomed by Garth and the other wonderful folks at the bookstore. The best part was sharing the stage (and a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc by Régis Minet before the reading) with Gary Whited, one of those really fine, gentleman poets who remind me that I need to work harder and dig deeper with my own poetry. He read from his collection, Having Listened, and had me hooked by the second line: “Meadowlark on barbed wire, yellow breasted door opens with its song.”
The rest of the weekend was full of visiting with some great writers – enjoying their words and energy, eating too much good food, drinking just the right amount of good wine and sitting in the window sill in our 5th floor room listening to a street piano-player (only in Missoula) plink out a song to the night.
taps stars in the night sky
composed by Galileo
On the way home, we took Montana Highway 1, aka the Pintler Scenic Route, a relaxing cruise through towns like Hall and Maxville and on into Philipsburg where we enjoyed the elixers offered by the Philipsburg Brewing Company and caught a bad-ass, down-home blues set by SmokeStack and the Foothill Fury.
Near its terminus at I-90, Highway 1 rolls through Anaconda and Opportunity, past the Anaconda Smelter Stack. This 585 foot tall structure, capable, when it was in use, of spewing out three to four million cubic feet per minute of toxic gas, is the tallest free standing masonry structure in the world. The Washington Monument could fit inside it. That’s about the best metaphor for American capitalism I can imagine.
I always get a graveyard chill passing these places. Brad Tyer’s fine book, Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape, explains why. Here’s the trailer: