By Alan Sorensen
It's easy to forget where we are and romanticize where we aren't. Like the proverbial cow, we can easily opine about the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Driving out to the Bear Paw Ski Hill last Sunday, Powder-Hound Matt and I noticed just that kind of demarcation of a fence line at the entrance to the park. There on the hill opposite us at the head of Beaver Creek (lower and first) Lake were adjacent fields. The one on the left was white with snow and the one on the right was yellow with grass. We noticed several other instances of similar fence-line demarcations as we drew farther into the park.
Maybe the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.
I'm in the middle of a book right now about San Piedro Island above the Puget Sound. The action takes place shortly after the end of World War Two.
There can be fewer more boring locations than San Piedro for people who are wont to complain that "there is nothing to do around here." But the author, who successfully weaves the island's charms into his tale, really makes the place exciting by focusing on the people.
"Snow Falling on Cedars" is coming out as a motion picture soon maybe already has. Since the book is listed as a mystery, I thought I'd rather read it than see the flick, which I've seen advertised as a romance.
Let me just say that the mystery elements of the novel, at least through the first 200 pages, are excellent. The romance, so far, is there, but less than torrid.
The point I'm trying to make is that Havre and northcentral Montana are even more exciting than San Piedro.
That was pointed out very clearly last week when a French dignitary arrived in Missoula to bestow a knighthood on James Welch, author of my favorite book and the book I consider to be the greatest American novel: "Winter in the Blood."
A goodly portion of the action is in Havre, Harlem and Malta. I think the best action, though, takes place on a tiny Fort Belknap ranch. His other novels also transpire in this vicinity. (His "Fools Crow" was banned in Laurel, which only elevates it in my estimation.)
Emmanuel Delloye, cultural attache at the French General Consulate in San Francisco, pinned the medal of the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters on James Welch's chest last Saturday.
I have quite a strong following in France,'' Welch was quoted in an AP story. I guess they just like my stuff.''
Indeed, said Delloye, Welch is considered a great writer in France and all of his books have been translated into French.
Welch is a Blackfeet and Gros Ventre born on the Blackfeet Reservation. He attended Northern in the late '50s. His talent was obvious and today all of his books are considered instant classics. In the big mall book shops they are even displayed in the classic sections along with Shakespeare, Twain and Faulkner.
Two other highly prized novels also depict considerable action in Havre: "Stay Away Joe" by Dan Cushman and Michael Dorris' "Yellow Raft on Blue Water."
Now another book has hit the bookstores. It's a reprint of an old and valued collection of stories as told by elders at Rocky Boy.
This edition of "Indian Old Man Stories: More Sparks from War Eagle's Lodge-fire" by Frank B. Linderman has an intro by my old college track-and-field buddy and former Montana Bar and Townhouse Cafe owner Sidner Larson.
I remember the ancient red hardcover copy that used to be in the Havre-Hill County Library. It was compiled shortly before Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation was established by President Woodrow Wilson's decree.
The stories were told by elders of the Chippewa and Cree tribes around campfires in the Bear Paws. The copy I read about eight years ago and that has since disappeared had great and colorful illustrations by Linderman's friend, Charlie Russell. They appeared to be water colors of allegorical characters animals dressed and walking as people.
Next week: How the IRS took six weeks and turned it into eight weeks, and other popular nonfiction of the area.