Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's Long Quote For The Last Day Of Spring

Spring leaves today, summer begins tomorrow.  We go from morning freshness to the heat of the day.

Here's a good June quote, the opening of Ivan Doig's novel, English Creek:

That month of June swam into the Two Medicine country. In my life until then I had never seen the sidehills come so green, the coulees stay so spongy with runoff. A right amount of wet evidently could sweeten the universe. Already my father on his first high patrols had encountered cow elk drifting up and across the Continental Divide to their calving grounds on the west side. They, and the grass and the wild hay meadows and the benchland alfalfa, all were a good three weeks ahead of season. Which of course accounted for the fresh mood everywhere across the Two. As is always said, spring rain in range country is as if halves of ten-dollar bills are being handed around, with the other halves promised at shipping time.

And so in the English Creek sheepmen, what few cowmen were left along Noon Creek and elsewhere, the out-east farmers, the storekeepers of Gros Ventre, our Forest Service people, in just everyone that start of June, hope was up and would stay strong as long as the grass did.

Talk could even be heard that Montana maybe at last had seen the bottom of the Depression.  After all, the practitioners of this bottomed-out notion went around pointing out, last year was a bit more prosperous, or anyway a bit less desparate, than the year before.  A nice near point of measurement which managed to overlook that for the several years before last the situation of people on the land out here had been godawful.

I suppose I ought not to dwell on dollar matters when actually our family was scraping along better than a good many. . .It gravels me every time I read a version of those times that makes it sound as if the Depression set in on the day Wall Street tripped over itself in 1929.  Talk about nearsighted.  By 1929 Montana had already been on rough sledding for ten years.  The winter of 1919--men my father's age and older still just called it "that sonofabitch of a winter"--was the one that delivered hard times.  Wholesale.

. . .Trouble never travels alone, so about that same time livestock and crop prices nosedived due to the end of the war in Europe.  And right along with that drought and grasshoppers showed up to take over dry-land farming.  Anyplace you looked you saw people who had put in twenty years in this country and all they had to show for it was a pile of old calendars.

Then when drought circled back again in the thirties and joined forces with Herbert Hoover, bad progressed to worse. . .Cattle rancher after cattle rancher and farmer after farmer got in deep with the banks. . .And then foreclosure and the auctioneer's hammer.  At those hammered sales we saw men weep, women stricken as if they were looking on death, the children bewildered.

So it was time hope showed up. 


  1. Rich

    I need your address to send you a book!

    I've emailed you a couple of times. Do me a favour and email me back with your mailing address...

    cheers mate,


  2. Adrian,

    I replied to both emails. Thought the second one was redundant, but replied anyway. Apparently your spam blocker blocked my email or something.

    In any event, my address is:

    Richard L. Pangburn
    404 Tom Greer Rd.
    Bardstown, KY 40004

    Looking forward to reading this anthology and reviewing it here and at Amazon.

    I had to speed-read BLOOMSDAY DEAD (which was still on my to-be-read shelf) to get the answer to the question on your blog. I was impressed, but I need to go back and give your entire DEAD trilogy a thoughtful read before attempting to review it.

    Once again, many thanks for providing this. Keep up the good work.