Mountain Mamas

 Judy Goodman and her daughter
Sawtooth Valley, ID
July 1992
It’s almost mother’s day, so I wanted to write this post to honor all the Mountain Mama’s out there. In 1991, when my daughter was born, there were no i-phones yet. We did not have internet (not sure it was even invented yet), and so there certainly was no facebook, instagram or twitter. But even back then, when she was just a baby, I wanted to protect her from the fast pace of society. I didn’t want her to know what “golden arches” were, or shopping malls. I wanted to protect her precious life, and make time for her to grow up – play post office, make mud pies, ride horses and read. So, high up in the Sawtooths, near the head waters of the Salmon River in a tiny cabin with no indoor plumbing, she took her first steps. It was a week before her first birthday. The snow was deep, and it was -30F outside. The elk were bedded down all around the cabin, conserving their energy through the cold winter. In that tiny cabin, I read books to her before bed each night. Our bath tub was a 16′ diameter hot springs with a 360 degree view of the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains. A magical place where there were no golden arches, but Golden Eagles. By the age of 3, she could identify 5 different birds just by their calls. She had an impressive cow elk call too… with the elk (180 head) bedded down around the cabin in mid-winter. Some died there. But their calls were soft and sweet… “euuu euuu euuu”. Summers were short at 7,000′ elevation. I always had a garden that grew cold crops like kale & brussel sprouts, and lots of lettuce, herbs, spinach, garlic, rhubarb, french sorrel and strawberries. Her first words were nini, nana, noni, nani. Strawberries were called “more”. Before ‘selfies’ and cell phones, we had cameras. This photo was taken using my Nikon 35mm camera (with film) set on a timer and balanced on the edge of a quilt frame out in the yard. I was making a quilt for my sister-in-law’s wedding, but the cabin was too small for the quilt frame, so I set it up in the yard that July. There were no trees around the hot spring, but the quilt in it’s frame made shade that summer. She would nap and play under the quilt in the shade while I stitched. The hat I’m wearing in the photo was a Fish & Game issue clothing item. I was a Fishery Research Biologist for IDFG then working out of a home office (yes, in that tiny cabin). I managed a fisheries database, wrote reports and conducted Salmon spawning ground surveys in the head waters of the Salmon and Pahsimeroi Rivers. Other adventures found us during that time – getting the snowmobile stuck in a snow drift during a white out, watching elk, pronghorn, mountain lions, bears and wolves from our living room, skunk in the chicken coop, a fox on the porch, Sandhill Cranes dancing for a mate, and the soft sound of the Mountain Bluebirds…. cozy mornings reading books by the fire, soak in the hot springs, walks through the sage brush and letting time find us again.

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