Canada Day

I had the great pleasure of Celebrating Canada Day in Canada. The decorations were more subdued than our 4th of July ones, and the resort put on a great fireworks display that could be enjoyed right from my campsite.

Canada Day is often informally referred to as “Canada’s birthday”. However, Canada Day is the anniversary of only one important national milestone on the way to the country’s full independence, namely the joining on July 1, 1867, of the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a wider British federation of four provinces (the colony of Canada being divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec upon Confederation). Canada became a “kingdom in its own right” within the British Empire commonly known as the Dominion of Canada. Although still a British colony, Canada gained an increased level of political control and governance over its own affairs, the British parliament and Cabinet maintaining political control over certain areas, such as foreign affairs, national defense, and constitutional changes. Canada gradually gained increasing independence over the years, notably with the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, until finally becoming completely independent with the passing of the Constitution Act, 1982 which served to fully patriate the Canadian constitution.

One Thousand Buddhas

Today I went on a contemplative adventure to the The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, a public park, botanical garden and Buddhist center in the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. The mission of the Garden is to provide people of all faiths with an opportunity to generate profound merit and reduce global negativity. The garden is a sacred place to uncover one’s fundamental dignity, intelligence and wakefulness. Through the use of the ancient symbols of Buddhism, the garden awakens one’s natural inner qualities of joy, wisdom, and compassion. The garden is an architectural masterpiece located in the most beautiful mountain scenery in the world.

I enjoyed a serene 2 hour walk among the Buddhas. The juxtaposition of east and west seemed appropriate. Scattered among the garden were many Buddha quotes. Below is the one that resonated with me.

The kind of seed sown will produce that kind of fruit. Those who do good will reap good results. Those who do evil will reap evil results. If you carefully plant a good seed, you will joyfully gather good fruit. – Buddha

Garnet Ghost Town

Today I decided to go visit Montana’s best preserved ghost town. It was a gravel mountain road driving adventure and so worth it. The scenery, the textures of the buildings, and the remnants of a bustling mining town really called to me. I could sense the joy of the town and the hardship that the mining life demanded. It affected me in ways I can’t quite put words to.

For more information I encourage you to read more about Garnet

National Bison Range

The National Bison Range (NBR) is a National Wildlife Refuge located in western Montana established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison. The NBR is one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the United States. The size of the bison herd at the NBR is relatively small, numbering between 350 and 500 individuals. The refuge serves as the central point for bison research in the United States. A well-known white buffalo, “Whitey” (1933-1959, also called “Big Medicine”), spent his life at the Bison Range

Once believed to number in the tens of millions, bison once were found in all the current U.S. states, except Hawaii, and also throughout Canada. Bison were nearly extinct by 1890, having been part of a Federal government sponsored program of eradication during the Indian Wars, thereby removing a vital food source from the Plains Indians diet, and ensuring easier relocation onto Indian reservations.

Bison were also considered to be a less desirable food source than domesticated cattle because of their wild nature. They were also viewed as competition for prime grazing lands that could be used by cattle

By the beginning of the 20th century efforts were being made to preserve the remaining bison and protect areas in which they could reconstitute. Approximately 250,000 bison can be found on federal and state lands, and in privately owned herds.

Lolo Hot Springs

In desperate need of a long hot soak, (it has been over 3 weeks since my last one) I took a drive out to Lolo Hot Springs. The Lolo Hot Springs was a prominent spot popular among the local Indians. The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed by and used the springs on June 29, 1806 while traveling east on their return from the mouth of the Columbia River. I loved that I sat in the same hot springs as Lewis & Clark. Seem’s I’ve been unintentionally crossing their old path on my journey.

According to Discover Lewis & Clark – Lewis Wrote: In this bath which had been prepared by the Indians by stoping the run with stone and gravel, I bathed and remained in 19 minutes, it was with dificulty I could remain thus long and it caused a profuse sweat    two other bold springs adjacent to this are much warmer, their heat being so great as to make the hand of a person smart extreemly when immerced. I think the temperature of these springs about the same as the hotest of the hot springs in Virginia. Both the men and indians amused themselves with the use of a bath this evening. I observed that the indians after remaining in the hot bath as long as they could bear it ran and plunged themselves into the creek the water of which is now as cold as ice can make it; after remaining here a few minutes they returned again to the warm bath, repeating this transision several times but always ending with the warm bath.

Special Collections, Mansfield Library, The University of Montana, Missoula

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice aka the estival solstice, aka midsummer—marks the moment when the North Pole is angled more toward the sun than on any other day of the year, resulting in the longest period of sunlight of the year for the top half of the planet.

Ancient humans used the June Solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Some believe that Stonehenge’s unique stone circle was erected around 2500 BCE in order to establish the date of the Summer Solstice. Viewed from its center, the Sun rises at a particular point on the horizon on day of the June Solstice. Some theories suggest that the builders of Stonehenge may have used the solstice as a starting-point to count the days of the year.

Ancient Egyptians aligned the Great Pyramids so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the pyramids on the summer solstice.

In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice.

In a long-buried Mayan city in Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered the remains of an astronomical observatory in which the buildings were designed to align with the sun during the solstices. During such times, the city’s populace gathered at the observatory to watch as their king appeared to command the heavens.

In ancient Gaul, which encompasses modern-day France and some parts of its neighboring countries, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona. The celebration was named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses.

In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion.

In parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge