Sunday, May 3, 2009

St. Mary Place Names

Sunday, April 26, 2009
“Well I woke up Sunday morning, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt. And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert.” Since I listened to Johnny Cash yesterday, it’s worth writing a quote from his song. Although it has no relation to the way I feel this morning, or that I drank a beer for breakfast.

Today was pretty uneventful. I relaxed and enjoyed sitting inside looking at the snow. It was slowing falling down and glittering in the sun light. It was like someone put a transparent sheet of glitter over everything. Very beautiful.

The view from my apartment porch, it's getting deeper!

My car is in there somewhere!

I stayed in today because it feels good to sit indoors and look outside. All winter I had very small windows with panes blocking my view of the tight valley where I lived. Now it feels great to have two giant picture windows (with four windows framing it all around). I’m able to have ample light to read during the day and evening. The best part is being able to look out on a cold and bleak day, and still enjoy it’s beautiful while warm and cozy. The view from my window is of Singleshot Mountain. If you look closely there is the figure of a woman laying horizontally on the long stretched out mountain.

(Courtesy of NPS, I didn't have all my photos with me.)

There is an obvious face (from the right, follow along the flat part to the left, to the first dip), which leads down to a chest, hands, skirt and feet. It is like the lady of St. Mary laid down thousands of years ago and is frozen in her restful pose. I can’t look at this mountain without seeing her every time.
Even though this figure is visible in the mountain, it is not the story of how St. Mary got it’s name. In fact, they aren’t totally sure of the story. “They” being the historians, park employees, and locals. Even the author of “Place Names of Glacier National Park” writes this:

“No name in this entire book has probably aroused more speculation if not controversy than ‘Saint Mary.’

I’ve heard several stories…one the seems to stick in my mind is a Kootenai version: “Old Woman Lakes.” Quoted again from Holterman’s book:

“…perhaps for the feminine form and face in the cliffs above the lower lake, perhaps for the frequent white caps on this turbulent tarn.”

The Blackfoot name translates as “inside big water,” as a sort of description, but a modern name is “Holy Lady Big Water. And last, the St. Mary River in Canada is given the name “Blue (green) Banks,” which I think is fitting. I’ll let you decide which is your favorite.
I’m very interested in place names because it shows how humans have connected to this land, as well as how they saw this land when they arrived upon the beautiful mountain peaks. I do a campfire program on place names in the St. Mary valley and I enjoy it thoroughly!

My "snow" gauge, again!

Weather: 30’s I think. Mostly Cloudy, snow on and off.

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