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"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."

Winter and cabin fever in Red Lodge
     Gary Ferguson in the LA Times

Gary Ferguson has an essay in today’s LA Times (free registration required) about winter in the Rockies and the persistent Montana drought.

What I once knew in theory I now know in my bones: that the overpowering weight of a Rocky Mountain winter, the snowbound days that drive us to the edge of madness, are the price paid in one season for the flush of life in another. What can at first seem a terrifying silence in the winter wilderness is in truth the sound of possibility.

Ferguson’s latest book is The Great Divide: The Rocky Mountains in the American Mind, a book which I just read (after hearing his eloquence at the Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula). The Great Divide tells what sort of people have been attracted to this place in the past, and of the changing role of the Rockies in the American psyche. In Missoula he was the only writer on a panel of environmental writers who offered much hope for the future. He said one solution to immigration into this state was to create a literature that attracted the sort of people we want.

Of course, he was assuming most people in the audience would agree with him about what sort of people those were. In American politics, things tend to go together in a way that it’s hard to support environmental causes without also supporting a lot of other causes. I would like to see a reshuffling of which issues the two parties claim as theirs, in the hope that one of them might put together a better hand than either seems content to hold at present.

In any case, his is the best kind of thinking about what placemaking means.  Ferguson lives in Red Lodge.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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