local to local

Daily observations at or near Two Dot Spot, written by hand on the backs of postcards that record with ink and coffee a few minutes of the earth's orbit around the sun. The cards are physically mailed from Two Dot, Montana to those who have requested them...local to local. Ruth Marie Tomlinson


I’ve come outside wrapped in a blanket on this last day of my first trip. The sun is not up yet, but there is a pink back wash of clouds behind me. The robins are up and some cows are bellowing in the distance, A few sandhill cranes call from way off, a rooster crows and a meadowlark sings. A couple of tuxedoed magpies strut around the car that we will soon get in to make our way back to Seattle. It will be a couple of weeks before I am in Two Dot again. There…the eastern horizon clouds are tinged with a 500-watt electric rim. It is much harder to hear the river now that the days of sun have shrunk it back into its banks. The fierceness of mosquitoes is not here so early in the morning. It is 5:45 and there are pink rays coming out from the horizon clouds and now the sun itself. I work very hard all winter for these few months of witnessed sunrises. And now…even my hands are turning pink in the light.


The schoolhouse is full of sleepers this morning; Dana & little James in the auditorium, big James and his friends in the second studio. Sonja & Gordon and their friends are sleeping at Richard & Alicia’s, though I suspect they are all up drinking coffee on the sun porch by now. Kari, Alex and the kids are at their place in Martinsdale. Probably some of Stevie’s kids are sleeping there as well. It’s a family weekend.


It’s a family weekend. We collected in the afternoon for a family picnic. Richard chose the location, a grassy place next to the river at the Glyn Ranch. Five vehicles followed one after the other, the last one, Ted’s old green Ford with all the stragglers in the back. Everyone brought food and we served it off of the back of Richard’s flatbed. The kids immediately went to the water and the adults set up chairs and blankets in the shade. Independence Day is not so much about freedom as it is about family….some blood, some choice.


It has been a long time since the community put on a July 2nd dance in Two Dot, and everyone seemed to have been waiting and storing their energy for this one. At least 200 people gathered to eat and talk and dance. The residents and there holiday guests were all there and more poured in from surrounding communities bringing their own visiting relatives. Ordinary couples, who work ordinary jobs put their boots or their sneakers on and pulled out their dance steps. John and I couldn’t stop staring at sets for four feet flying in unison. We were torn between tying to figure it out by watching and letting it go on the dance floor. There was no purpose here but pleasure.


I have been reading “Jim the Boy,” by Tom Early, a book as slow and unmarked as a boy’s summer day. In the book, Jim made sense of the small triumphs and losses of his short life with the perspective of the sun. When you think about the sun coming up and going down hundreds of millions of times, it kind of makes what’s going on today not seem so important.


A pair of sharp-tailed grouse and a gray Hungarian partridge are spending time in the yard. I continue to read Stegner. He points out that, “we are still in transition from the notion of man as master of the earth to the notion of man as part of it.” I am pleased to think of myself as part of this avian world, but this is a thought only. I know Stegner was speaking to actions. What are those actions?


John woke me abruptly in the night with the noise of cranking the window closed. I was so deeply asleep, my entire body committed to dreaming, that the rapid assent to a waking world nearly gave me the bends. I’d been with Sara Ann in the dream. Here I am in my other world being visited at night by those I’ve left behind. In the morning, perhaps to make amends for the night wrenching, John brought me tea and helped me identify the upland ground birds (gallinaceous)in the yard: birds being our summer companions.


Another cloudless morning…the sun triumphed most of yesterday only clouding up in the afternoon. We worked in the yard with copious amounts of mosquito repellant. They are thick in the air. It makes me grateful for every window and every window screen in the house where I expect we will spend most of this post-flood summer.


Waking from a night of regular dreaming, I found myself still in Montana. Can’t ask for more. Now that John is back, the pheasant has stopped his predawn stroll and crow. Maybe he senses a man in the house. He sticks to his harem and leaves me to John. It is my complete pleasure to have John back. He cleans the way I like, collaborates in the kitchen without fuss, speaks in our common language and plays the accordion for the waving grass and me.


John is back in the schoolhouse. We worked in the yard most of the day. Sun and wind a perfect combination, warm and no mosquitoes. We planted another lilac and moved sod from one place to another…always trying to make it work with what we’ve got, never minding the labor involved until we are bushed and our muscles are sore. Recovery is at hand with portabella and tofu burgers; an unintended challenge in this beef country.


Deborah woke me at 5:15 to watch the sunrise, this being her last full day in Two Dot. She is full of excitement and chatter today but has paused enough to notice all of the individual sounds here. She’s been describing Two Dot as a place of such quiet, and yet after 10 days she has quieted herself enough to hear what’s here. Just now there are cows moaning, a truck grinding its way down the highway, the hunter moving things around outside his cabin, flies buzzing, a robin and all the other birds singing, and shockingly… no one mowing…but of course someone will be soon.