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


After total morning cloud cover it cleared to hot. We began to prepare to leave, our summer coming to an end. I swept the studio collecting in my dustpan moths and the seeds of a plant I’d gathered on Daisy Peak. I don’t know what the plant is…couldn’t find it in any of the books. But I ferried those seeds and moths across the road, letting them fly into the field. Just maybe some of those seeds will surprise me next year.

8.15.2013… no clouds, no wind, no rain

The sun rose at 6:25 this morning. It was only 50 degrees outside, even though yesterday afternoon hit 90. I choose to believe the weather is shifting to fall. We will be leaving Two Dot for Seattle in a few days and somehow it makes it a little easier if we are not leaving too much summer behind.


Finally, last night it was clear. We set up chairs in the yard before falling into bed at 10. Doubtfully we promised to get up in the middle of the night to see what was left of the meteor showers. Half a sleep at 2:30, I saw an amazing streak across the stretch of sky framed by our bathroom window. We both wrapped ourselves in blankets and perched in the yard. There wasn’t much to the meteor show, but the stars were spectacular. Sometimes the sky seems impossibly infinite to me, but last night it was an overturned bowl decorated at the bottom with millions of glittering dots that lessened at the edges. I completely understood the idea of a flat world with a dome overhead. Science is a wonderful art offering facts and explanations, but there is impossible poetry in the stories we make up. Cold and sleepy, we finally left the star gazing and returned to the house stealing thin slices of chocolate cake washed down with milk before crawling back into bed.

8.9.2013… few clouds, no wind, low mist

A single cloud of ground mist crept into Two Dot. It must have started at the river, but at six this morning it lay across Guy Henley’s field, partially covering Weiss’s cabin, and completely enveloping Daloris Olson’s house. I wonder what went on inside that mist. What was Daloris dreaming? Or was she awake and afraid to come out of her house, not being able to see anything beyond her door? Just a little later, only a shadow of mist remained almost as if nothing had happened.


I laid near my father’s grave, or what passes for a grave, his bronze marker on the edge of the cliff where we launched his ashes seventeen years ago. If he resides any particular place, it is this. I laid my head on a fresh pillowslip. A cloud saturated with blue and gray and purple hovered overhead. I closed my eyes and there was thunder in the distance.  I kept my body flat, the length of me touching his earth. This is as close as I can be to the little girl curled in his lap, but those were not my thoughts on the mountain. In fact I wasn’t thinking at all, just letting the thunder roll and the clouds gather dark above me. When I rolled onto my side, facing his marker and the edge of the cliff, a wind picked up washing over my face and shoulder and hip. I wanted to stay, to let the storm flatten me to the ground, but Tania and John were collecting to go and I knew better. A quick kiss and I rolled to my knees, getting up like the 60-year-old woman that I am. Only then…trailing behind as we walked down the mountain did I talk with Dad. “I love you, I miss you, you are with my everyday.”


The marker of sixty years in this realm began at 3:30 today. It feels like a crossing, but I can’t really grasp what has been crossed. I now understand what my mother said to me with some dismay in her older years … “But I still feel eighteen inside.” As we slip into old age, are we brought back to the time of our crossing into adulthood? It certainly was a time of contemplation and bewilderment, as is this.


Storms have flirted with Two Dot for days… usually in the evening. Each day has broken with a clear sky and then begun to cloud over by afternoon. There had been some spits of rain, some distant thunder and enough wind to record, but tonight was different. Clouds got serious around six and by nine rain was pounding the roof. Wind roared through like the train that used to pass through Two Dot. And lightning repeatedly illuminated the entire sky. Flashes of light and then darkness… again and again and again. I counted the distance between lightning and thunder; some if it very close. We lay in bed and submitted to it until an impossibly long and detailed chorus of thunder ended it all. The wind stopped, the rain stopped, the lightning stopped and we fell asleep in the reverberating absence.


The weather has been volatile with rain and storms and only patches of clear sky. We’ve been cheated of the Perseids by cloud cover.


Tania came to Two Dot with a tiny empty locket and the hope of finding something to fit inside it. I suggested a bone as they abound in our rural world. We went to find owl pellets in an old shed where I know a great horned owl lives. We didn’t see the owl, but the pellets were all over the hood of an old Desoto that’s been parked there for decades. Later we picked apart the pellets at the school house, analyzing owl diet like two elementary students. Tania found her bones…little femurs less than a quarter of an inch long. They rest in her locket, a tiny reminder of Two Dot.

8.6.2013… no clouds, no wind, no rain

The sun is cresting the horizon about half an hour earlier than when we arrived in May. We’ve passed through the longest day of the year and now each day shortens.  The earth is changing its location as it has done every year since its debatable beginning. The debate is one of science and faith, but regardless of its beginnings its existence and patterns are fact. I can depend on the earths place in the universe…its celestial address.

8.5.2013… no clouds, no wind, no rain, cool

John is back in the schoolhouse and will stay until we return to Seattle in two weeks. I find myself breathing faster with the counting. But… just now the bright sun is climbing into the sky and it is beautiful. Deep breaths... someday, each minute will feel like enough.


Yesterday we wandered the Montana State Fair grounds with its exhibition halls full of cookware sets, rhinestones, and amazing products to ease your life. We watched people get spur-of-the-moment tattoos and watched grease dripping down the arms of all those fair goers eating deep fried cheeseburgers and cake. The carnies had their bailing wire and duct tape ready for quick repairs and no one was daunted by an earlier accident on the Zipper. They lined up, handed over their tickets and crawled in for two minutes of terror. This all may prove what Guthrie had to say about men at the end of the Oregon Trail faced with a steak dinner rather than fish from the Columbia. “The promise of a mere change in diet lifted all the spirits. Small as it was on any scale, why shouldn’t it? Men lived by the little things, not the big.” The promise of a deep-fat fried meatball, some Indian flat bread, and the whirl of a carnival ride.


Before I opened my eyes today, lightning seeped through my eyelids waking me with light followed by full body resonating thunder. The storm started about six last night with wind from every direction. This un-August like rain is good for growing crops, but bad for hay already cut and laying in windrows. These things were not on my mind as I lay flat not ready to wake; eyes closing between lightning flashes. But my eyelids kept warming with light, bringing them open for each strike.

8.1.2013… fully overcast, no wind or rain

I just finished Guthrie’s Fair Land, Fair Land. He published this book over 30 years after Big Sky and The Way West, inserting it into the middle of his Western sequence. Perhaps he felt he’d left Dick Summers, the mountain man/Oregon trail guide, hanging after reaching the Oregon territory and turning his eyes back to the Great Plains. I was happy at the prospect of knowing what happened to Summers, even though I guessed it wouldn’t end well. Of course it didn’t. He was labeled a “turn-coat” with his squaw wife and half-breed children and that was the end of him. But worse was his experiencing the inch-by-inch loss of the land he loved to an idea of “progress.”