Blue Skies and Holden Caulfield

Yesterday was gloriously blue-skied.

Do Missoulians talk about our skies more than people elsewhere? I kind of think we DO, and I kind of think it’s a combination of several things:

  • 1) People who live here (for the most part) pay attention to the outdoors for practical reasons. How’s the drive going to be? What layers do I need to bring?
  • 2) People pay attention for recreational reasons. Is it a day for fishing/skiing/hiking/biking?
  • 3) People pay attention for aesthetic reasons. I mean, the light and clouds here create incredibly fast-moving changes in color, depth, mood, intensity. (Does that sound Foo-foo? Seriously,  Look here, for great examples of what it really, truly, does look like around here (WAY better than my crappy slide-a-phone photos!)
  • 4) The blue skies do, sadly, go away. We can go many weeks in a row without seeing a clear blue sky, and this affects some people pretty hard in the winter, here.

Well, for one, or all, of those reasons I was thrilled to go for a walk yesterday afternoon with Alden.

We walked a trail we’ve walked a lot over the past year or two.

I found myself thinking about Holden Caulfield.

That sounds like a stretch and you might think I’m being a big phony, making some kind of literary reference, but I’m just telling you what I was thinking and all.

Now, Holden, he was talking about the Museum of Natural History, with it’s odd dioramas of traditional peoples…(the bold is just me, pointing it out and all.)

“The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and they’re pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’s be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all. You’d have an overcoat this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line the last time had got scarlet fever and you’d have a new partner. Or you’d have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you’d heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you’d just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you’d be different in some way—I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.” 

People point to that passage as Holden resisting or resenting change but I don’t read it that way at all. The examples of change he lists are so heartbreakingly kid-like, yet isn’t that always the way. That “you had just passed one of those gasoline rainbow puddles” would be a way YOU were changed. I love that so much, I always have.

Walking the same trail over and over and over is like that, only of course it’s always also changing with the seasons, but after a while, the seasons are like a “sameness” also– if constant change can be a sameness? –a remarkable and beautiful and noteworthy sameness– a cycle– but it’s the rainbow puddles, as it were, that color MY experience of each particular walk.

How are things with Alden and me? Josh and me? Work? Are the dogs rambunctious or mellow? How was work? Are we rushing or unhurried? How, in short, is the weather?

I have said it before and I say it again: whatever the weather, you NEVER regret taking a walk.


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