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Glory is not Just in the Going

To slow down and take in the wonder of Nature is to recognize the spirituality and wonder of our environment

The sunset occurs every day, luring you in for a vision quest. Here's the view from Cottonwood Bench Road just outside Clyde Park, Montana. Photo by Dorothy Bradley
The sunset occurs every day, luring you in for a vision quest. Here's the view from Cottonwood Bench Road just outside Clyde Park, Montana. Photo by Dorothy Bradley
by Dorothy Bradley

I was driving down Montana’s Highway 89 recently to one of my favorite spots: Cottonwood Bench Road. Making my way through a tree-heavy section known as “Deer Alley” near my home in Clyde Park, I saw wild turkeys in the road just ahead of me. I immediately put on my emergency lights, as I always do when I see wildlife close to the driving lane, and stopped to watch two adult turkeys and about a dozen small ones running all over the place—maybe a first exploration away from their home territory.

One couldn’t help but laugh. But the car behind me whizzed right by, pretty impatient judging by his irritated honk; and a second one came from the front without slowing even a whit. The result was, of course, two dead babies and feathers blowing up and around in the breeze like a tiny celebration of their lives that ended too soon.

English writer-philosopher John Ruskin said, “There is always more in the world than a man can see walks he ever so slowly. He will see no more by going fast, for his glory is not in going but in being.” I often think of that beautiful maxim on my daily walks down the country road. Some people speed by me as if I’m an inconvenient
Taking it slow: The author with her hiking companion, Breaker, at Cottonwood Lake. Photo courtesy Dorothy Bradley
Taking it slow: The author with her hiking companion, Breaker, at Cottonwood Lake. Photo courtesy Dorothy Bradley
pothole. Several, to my delight, slow down and wave. And a few stop and roll down the window to shoot the breeze. When they move on, I look around to take note of what we see by simply going slow, not to mention that we may have time to stop for the spotted fawns, black bear cubs, and even turkeys.

I see the daily change in the color of the wheat; a fuzzy caterpillar; the interesting seed pods on the ripening canola which were pointed out to me by the local farmer (one who rolls down the window to chat); the autumn flocking of the annoying crow-esque grackles; one late flax bloom giving thanks for the rain; and a growing number of ponderosa pine that are getting noticeably red and won’t be long for this life. It’s not much to brag about, but a lot to wonder about.

One of my all-time favorite events and accomplishments have been several Bridger Ridge Runs, that arduous, 20-mile cross-country run along ridge of the Bridger Mountains in Bozeman. The glee of being with fellow runners charging up the trail to Sacajawea Peak, and hours later slip-sliding down the far side of Baldy, could well be something I remember in my last breath. 

But now it seems, every mountain range everywhere and anywhere has to be crisscrossed summer and winter by extreme athletes. And what is the drive? To conquer yet one more range? Prove you can do it? Will you join the mass of climbers up Everest picking your way among garbage and human waste left on the mountainside in the need to carve one more notch on your stick? Does the mountain itself get any consideration?
Winter cows from the Bench road. Photo by Dorothy Bradley
Winter cows from the Bench road. Photo by Dorothy Bradley
When extreme runs started across the beautiful, still solitary Crazy Mountain Range, I had mixed feelings. The Crazies are most famous for the vision quest of the Crow tribe’s Chief Plenty Coups. This didn’t happen at a sprint. It was an extraordinary long haul. And it wasn’t done to conquer the peak. It was done to seek wisdom, a life path. It required many days, patience, fasting, the loss of blood, until the dreams finally revealed themselves.

And Plenty Coups, as just a boy, learned about the chickadee—the last remaining bird after the forest blew down—and that it survived because it listened and learned. Plenty Coups interpreted this as an admonition that knowledge and education were as critical to the survival of his people as strength and physical prowess.

This is worthy of our contemplation.

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Dorothy Bradley
About Dorothy Bradley

Dorothy Bradley, who makes her home today in Clyde Park, Montana in the northern reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is a former eight-term Montana state representative. Bradley ran for governor in 1992 and narrowly lost to Republican Marc Racicot. At age 23, she helped organize Montana’s first Earth Day and won a seat in the Montana House where she was the only woman in 1971. She was among the young people present during Montana's constitutional convention in 1972 who helped produce a modern constitution touted as being among the most foresighted in the country.  Among its provisions is that all citizens have "the right to a clean and healthful environment." Bradley also was at the forefront of women's rights, conservation and pondering water policy, which is especially important now in a time of climate change.
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