“"Stone Soup" Part 1”
This episode of the Tell Us Something podcast was recorded live in person in front of a sold-out crowd at The Wilma in Missoula, MT. Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme “Stone Soup”.
Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme “Stone Soup”. A dramatic river rescue, bullets confiscated at TSA, a middle-aged woman cookin’ up an incredible stew and a man, a porcupine, a jar of pickles, and a little birdie.
Our podcast today was recorded in front of a live audience on March 30, 2022, at The Wilma in Missoula, MT. 8 storytellers shared their true personal stories on the theme “Stone Soup”. Today we hear from 4 of those storytellers.
Our first story comes to us from Tess Sneeringer.
After her friend falls down a hill on rock scree, Tess Sneeringer puts her training to work. She, along with several of her friends, paddle through the night to bring their injured friend to safety.
Tess calls her story “All Aboard the River Ambulance ”.
Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.
Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared right here. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back.
Joyce calls her story “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.” (Hat tip to Chris LaTray)
Joyce Gibbs is a resilient, creative, and adventurous woman who was raised in Missoula. After a brief stint in New York City and then in New Orleans, she bought a dilapidated railroad house on Missoula’s Northside and spent the next 15 years remodeling it and making it her own. Joyce loves being in nature on Montana’s abundant rivers, and hiking and hunting in the woods. When she is not busy building beautiful spaces with her tile installation at Joyce of Tile, you can find her riding her motorcycle, gardening, going for neighborhood walks with her husband of 12 years, Marc (that’s me!), and their kitten Ziggy.
In our next story, Lizzie Juda finds awakening after middle age in a story that she calls “Something’s Cookin’ in My Pot”.
Lizzi Juda has been a proud resident of the westside of Missoula for nearly 33 years. She is the founder and co-director of Turning the Wheel Missoula and has over 25 years of experience teaching improvisational movement classes, expressive arts groups, and ceremonial rituals. She is passionate about providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, move and connect deeply with themselves and express their creative spark. She is an absolutely avid advocate for accordion and alliteration artistry and is a wannabe beat poet. She considers movement and touch her first languages and is finding her way with words. She identifies most with being a mojo sprinkling pixie
Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Brent Ruby buys a jar of pickles for a gathering with friends. No one ever opens the jar of pickles, so he brings it home. The hitchhiker he picks up along the way is very happy to learn about this magic pickle jar.”Paws, Claws, Pickles and a Little Birdie”
Brent Ruby is a research professor at the University of Montana and has been on a nearly 30-year quest to do good science. He also is committed to writing his own brand of ornery poetry during his relentless study of applied human physiology. One of Brent’s research goals is to effectively share his research findings to improve the health and performance of wildland firefighters. Brent spends time outside of his research in the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Jo and their border collies, Wrango and Banjo. Brent also enjoys building hollow wood stand-up paddleboards, woodwork, art, and writing children’s books. Check out his books, download free coloring book pages, and more at wrangoandbanjo.com.
Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 1
Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.
We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.
The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.
Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.
Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.
This week on the podcast…
Tess Sneeringer: this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee.
Joyce Gibbs: He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job.
…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.
Lizzi Juda: Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.
Brent Ruby: There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over
Marc Moss: We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.
Our first story comes to us from Tess Sneeringer. After her friend falls down a hill on a rock scree, Tess Sneeringer puts her training to work. She, along with several of her friends, paddle through the night to bring their injured friend to safety. Tess calls her story “All Aboard the River Ambulance ”. Thanks for listening.
Tess Sneeringer: So four of us were floating down the green river in Utah in two different canoes and they were tied together. And two of us were paddling. One of us was taking a power nap and the fourth person was managing some extreme pain with a substance that is now illegal in Montana. And it was two o’clock in the morning.
This trip had started earlier that day as the long awaited personal trip. After a grilling summer spent backpacking with teenagers in the woods and spirits were high when we launched earlier that day. And I remember when we pulled over for lunch on this beach, on the side of the river, I pulled up the canoe was sitting on the bow and was dipping crackers into hummus.
When I heard my friend Erica Yelp behind me and I look over and she’s about 20 yards downstream on the bank. And all I see is this cloud of sand stone dust. And she’s over there with our friend Christina. So I wander over, I guess what had happened is she had been climbing up this little bluff to get a picnic spot.
And this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee and of the four of us, three of us, our wilderness first responders. And the fourth is an EMT. So we kind of dove into our knee assessment situation.
But at some point she looked up at me and she goes test. I think my back is bleeding and she was wearing a white sun shirt. So we hadn’t seen any blood, but I lift up her shirt and sure enough, I see a five inch long centimeter wide, just gaping wound as if someone had cut her with a knife. And it was sure enough slowly bleeding down her back.
So I put her shirt down and it takes every ounce of me to tell her, yes, your back is bleeding. I’m going to get the first aid kit. I’ll be right back. And I tried so hard not to sprint to the canoe and instead use that time to calm my own nerves down, get the first aid kit, come back. By that point, we had her laying face down.
Everybody had seen the cut at this point and Jack, the other trip mate and Christina had made a plan to try to go get cell phone service. And they’d put me in charge of first aid. And there I am standing over her with my desert rat, sun dress and my big floppy hat. And now two blue nitrile gloves thinking.
Okay. It is time to put you back together. And as I said, it was, uh, it looked like someone cut her with a knife and granted, we never found. Like slicer, but the first aid was relatively simple. So we were still waiting for Jack and Christina to get back. When she asked me, she goes test, why is everybody freaking out?
And I was just like, without trying to make her freak out, even more explained like, Hey, your cut is big enough that we’re worried about infection and your knee is enough in enough pain that we can’t be here for five days, which was the plan. So we got to go. And the way that this river works is we’re on the green river paddling towards the confluence with the Colorado river and the green river is Flatwater and the Colorado river is whitewater.
So you can’t just paddle out. You schedule a motor boat to pick you up at the beach. That’s the intersection of the two rivers. And we had scheduled a boat for five days from then. It was about a 50 mile trip. That’s a really relaxed river trip, 10 miles a day, plenty of time for side hikes, relaxing. So we had scheduled it for five days from then, but as we were looking through our paperwork from our outfitter and the permits, we saw that they’d given us a schedule of all the other boats that were coming. While we were on our trip, there was two boats, one, which was ours five days from now and the only other one scheduled was the very next morning at 10 o’clock. So we had to cover about 45 miles by 10 o’clock in the morning. But if you remember those teenage trips, one of the ones that I led the most often involved a canoe trip, and to make our mileage on the last day, we had a routine of waking the kids up at three o’clock in the morning, putting them in boats, tying the boats together and paddling this flotilla of canoes down a very similar desert river.
So I knew, I knew it could be done and doing some quick rough math. I thought we had just enough hours if we paddled through the night. So Jack and Christina get back from their short-lived attempt to find cell phone service. I pitched this plan to them, suggest that we paddle until dinner time, pull over, eat food.
Can’t forget to eat food. paddles, pull over sleep for a couple hours and launch again around midnight and paddle until we hopefully get to the boat. And as we were paddling that evening, they said yes to the plan as we were paddling, you know, we were booking it. So everybody we passed could tell we are in a situation where our boats are tied together.
And we’re paddling with like 80% effort. And everyone we passed, as soon as they learned what our situation was, they had something to give us. Someone had extra Vicodin from an old wisdom to surgery. I’m not kidding. They gave us new first aid supplies to change her dressing. And an older gentleman even offered us his paddling chocolate, which was weed chocolate for, for his arthritis, which was very, very generous.
And so we paddled, we executed that plan, just how I lined it out. And we launched again at midnight, after a horrible anxiety written hour of sleep. And we made it about two hours until Jack who’s in the front of my canoe, turns around and he’s like, Tess, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m falling asleep.
I don’t know if we’re going to make it. And so we came up with new plan involving maps, , so that every 20 minutes, one of the three, paddler’s got to take a nap and cause we had tied the boat together, right? So there’s three paddlers. And we tried to make Erica as comfortable as we could. That’s a tall order when you have a bum knee, a huge gash in your back and it’s a metal boat, but we tried our best.
And when it was my turn to nap, I was out cold. I put my sleeping bag in my feet, I’d pull it over. Me and people had to shake me awake when it was my turn to paddle again. But we kept that rotation going all night long until finally the sun came up and we were tasked with figuring out where the heck we were, because all night I’d been trying to estimate like, how fast are we going?
How many hours have we been paddling? Continually trying to answer the question. Like, are we going to make it? And so when the sun came up, I had to use all that mental math to be like, okay, I think we’re about 15 miles away from the takeout and how the map works. River miles are labeled on the map. And in this case they were counting down to the confluence, but sure.
There’s a line on the map that says 15, but that doesn’t mean there’s like a steak on the side of the river that says 15. So instead it’s a topographical map and I’m having a lineup, natural features to what I’m seeing. And so, you know, I’d be like, okay, I think if we’re here, there should be two canyons on the right and a tributary on the left.
And then there’d be three canyons on the right. And I’m like, shit, I have no idea where we are. And I was probably trying to struggle with that for almost an hour, just constantly trying to line up reality to my map somewhere within the range of where I thought we were until finally we saw some folks breaking down a campsite and we knew that the campsites are kind of also labeled according to the river mile.
So if we knew what camp they were at, we would know how far away we were. So we shouted over and they shouted back that they are at camp four. So we weren’t 15 miles away. We are four miles away and we had plenty of hours to go. And at that moment we threw down our paddles. Erica shoots this like drugged out fist into the air.
We eat something. That’s not this stay on granola bar that we’ve been eating all night because at that point we knew we were going to make it. And sure enough, we pulled into the beach. There was a whole crowd waiting for their scheduled boat. But as soon as we. You know, they learned of our situation news spread fast.
And again, people had something for us. We got someone cooked bacon for us, the made coffee, someone set up a shade umbrella so that Erica could sit under the shade. It was like a super sunny beach. And there was even a surgeon there who had this beefy first aid kit and volunteered to clean out her wound again, which was super nauseating to watch.
But we got on the boat, we got her to the hospital. She ended up needing a lot of stitches and she had a torn ACL, which explains the knee pain. So after that moment, we split up to our respective fall seasonal gigs. But every time I think of this trip in many trips, since, you know, the reason I go on these trips often is to connect more intentionally with myself or the people I’m going with.
And explicitly not all the other people who are out there, the point is to get away. But in this situation, it was all those other people that made our evacuation safer, easier, smoother, and already I’ve been on another trip or I was approached in an evacuation for help. And I take great comfort knowing that that give and take will be a lifelong exchange among perfect strangers, as long as we continue to recreate in these wild places.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.
Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.
Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”
Thanks for listening.
Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.
And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.
I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.
And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?
And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.
Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.
He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.
My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.
And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.
I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.
Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.
And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.
And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.
He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.
And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.
If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,
She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?
And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Joyce.
Joyce Gibbs is a resilient, creative and adventurous woman who was raised in Missoula. After a brief stint in New York City and then in New Orleans, she bought a dilapidated railroad house on Missoula’s Northside and spent the next 15 years remodeling it and making it her own. Joyce loves being in nature on Montana’s abundant rivers, and hiking and hunting in the woods. When she is not busy building beautiful spaces with her tile installation at Joyce of Tile, you can find her riding her motorcycle, gardening, going for neighborhood walks with her husband of 12 years, Marc (that’s me!), and their kitten Ziggy.
In our next story, Lizzie Juda finds awakening after middle age in a story that she calls “Something’s Cookin’ in My Pot”. Thanks for listening.
Lizzi Juda: thank you all for being here to support us and to listen to our stories. So I’m going to take advantage of this stone soup, uh, theme and tell you a bit about my journey through life, using the kettle or the pot as a metaphor for my self, my. Yeah. So I was born in the Midwest in the early sixties, and my pot was filled with Twinkies and canned spinach and three siblings and TV reruns, and overly salted broth.
And at the age of eight, my dad died and my mom disappeared into her scotch bottle. And this left this pot of ours that we called family with a massive crack in it. And nobody was talking about this crack. Nobody was doing anything that I could tell that was trying to repair the damage that was being done.
And so eventually this kettle of ours crumbled around our feet and I being the sensitive, intuitive caretaker that I am. Desperately tried to gather up all the shattered pieces and the scattered ingredients. And desperately tried to make some kind of magic brew or healing stew that would save us and that we could survive on.
And obviously this was impossible and exhausting. So I eventually left and came upon at the age of 20, my former husband who, Ooh, damn, I wasn’t going to cry. My farmer husband, who was this cast, iron stainless steel, nutrient dense kind of man. And he was like solid and grounded and a Virgo. And he, um, he contained me and grounded me in a way I had never experienced before I even wrapped a gold ring around myself for security and belonging.
And. Gladly just dumped my leaky brothy, cracked, sad self into his kettle and merged all my ingredients with his ingredients. And we lived with this nutritious and delicious life for years and years. And we created two really amazing children and have this beautiful life together. And then around midlife, I would say this grumbling and rumbling started quaking in my core to the point where I could not ignore it anymore.
And I knew it was time for me to take my pot and see if I could cook something up on my own. I needed to like figure out how to delineate what was my ingredients and what was all of the ingredients that were scattered around me. So I had been cooking in this one kitchen, my entire adult life. And as I left, I brought with me like this teeny little Bunsen burner and the.
Uh, flimsy little empty kettle and wandered around for quite a while, dazed and disoriented. And there was another D word in there, days disoriented and devastated and,
hungry as shit. And then I met this fiery powerhouse of a woman here in Missoula. And as we were getting to know each other, I started telling her that I was living on my own for the first time in my adult life. And I was trying to figure out like, how do you do relationships, where you can say what you need and you can receive support and don’t get lost in the sauce.
And she said, you need to check out this camp that is in Southern Oregon. I didn’t totally know what she was talking about, but I could feel this flame under me growing in intensity. And I could feel like water starting to swirl around inside my kettle. Like. She told me that this camp network for new culture is a place where people explore intimacy and personal growth in radical honesty and transparency.
And I just knew at that moment that that was the next step in my evolution. So two weeks later, I’m in my car heading to Southern Oregon for the first time on a solo road trip, since college, two long, hot, exhilarating days of driving. Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.
And I’m like, girl, you might’ve wanted to read the fine print because,
I knew no one at this camp. And I was saying to myself, Lizzie, this looks like some wild ass bull, yum that you may or may not want to put in your pot. So I stood around the edges and I. I’m a pretty open progressive earth mother, hippie chick kind of woman.
But I stood around the edges of this camp, like a wide-eyed coyote, checking out what the hell was going down. And I saw people picking up these handfuls of exotic herbs and spices and tossing them freely into their big old pots of stew. And then they were sharing their stew freely with all the other people.
And they were receiving this amazing stew back. And, they were nourished and they were fortified and they were, and I had, I was sitting there going, you know, I’ve like put like little sprinkles of salt in my bra and I wanted a taste of what these people were putting down. So, I have a minute left and I have like this much more of my story to tell you, so how am I going to shorten it?
Okay. So I’m going to tell you this part of it. So one day I went down to the river and I. I was hanging out with these people singing along the river and the harmonies were incredible and the sun was gorgeous and people are dipping in and out of the river laughing and telling stories and singing. And I got my courage up and I took a big breath and I stripped my clothes off and I got into the river and I could feel as I was standing there in front of people that I did not really know, I could feel this fear and this body shame and this sense of the cultural conditioning that I’ve carried around with me for my entire life.
Just start to
be carried down
by the waves of the river, down to the ocean. And I’ve been back to this camp many, many times, and I’ve learned to expand my ability to give and receive love. And I’ve learned how to. Merged deeply with people and then come back home to my own kitchen where I am cooking up this spicy organic Hardy, healthy, nutritious stew.
And I’m here to share it with everyone. And I know that I am being fed by this much bigger love that flows through all things. And it flows through you too.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Lizzi.
Lizzi Juda has been a proud resident of the westside of Missoula for nearly 33 years. She is founder and co-director of Turning the Wheel Missoula and has over 25 years experience teaching improvisational movement-classes, expressive arts groups, and ceremonial rituals. She is passionate about providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, move and connect deeply with themselves and express their creative spark. She is an absolutely avid advocate for accordion and alliteration artistry and is a wanna be beat poet. She considers movement and touch her first languages and is finding her way with words.She identifies most with being a mojo sprinkling pixie
Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Brent Ruby buys a jar of pickes for a gathering with friends. No one ever opens the jar of pickles, so he brings it home. The hitchhiker he picks up along the way, is very happy to learn about this magic pickle jar.”Paws, Claws, Pickles and a Little Birdie”
Thanks for listening.
Brent Ruby: I didn’t know the dress
so I have to start by saying, oh my Frick. I’m standing on the stage of the Wilma theater.
Did anyone see John Prine thing here?
Cause the rest of my life, I can say John Prine opened for me at the Wilma.
So a lot of people don’t like road trips and there’s a reason for that. And that’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay to admit it. Road trips force us to merge the things that are organized in our brains with the things that are unpredictable and the things that are practical and predictable get tangled with the unknown.
And that makes people uncomfortable. That’s okay. Some about 60 miles south of Dillon Montana on interstate 15, great stretch of
There’s two camps. When it comes to the philosophy of roadkill, the first camp is my wife and most of my coworkers are in this camp and that is drive by that shit. I’m kind of in the other camp, which is if it’s interesting, if it’s feasible, if it hasn’t been there awhile and I’m stopping.
So I pull around. Get out of my big truck and I’m standing in the sun standing over a dead porcupine and my scientific brain is calculating, huh? It’s about 11 o’clock in the morning. When did it die? How old is it? Cause porcupines can live to be like 15, 18 years old. So I kick at it a little bit, look around there’s no one coming, taking this guy.
I grab it.
But before I moved it, I realized, you know, dead things smell. And this didn’t smell that bad. I mean, bed bath and beyond is not like saying, oh my gosh, this has got to be our next candle scent, but it wasn’t that bad until I picked it up. And then the smell got into my mouth. No, no matter. I still took it, put it in the truck and I’m on my way down to park city, Utah, where I was going to meet some colleagues for a multi-day meeting down there.
So we get, I get down to park city porcupine in tow, uh, or. And I meet up with my colleagues. And the first thing we do is go to the grocery store. And one of my colleagues says, okay, we need to just like hodgepodge potluck stuff for dinner, so get whatever you want. And we’ll put it together tonight. So I walk around the grocery store, still kind of smelling that porcupine.
And all I came up with was some shitty Utah, 3.2% alcohol grocery store beer, and an enormous jar of dill pickles. That was my contribution. But I did tell my colleagues, I don’t think we should eat the porcupine. So we ended up going to our condo, Airbnb, whatever, and, uh, having our meetings for the next few days.
Well, I, when we got there, I put the porcupine right in the freezer and the pickles. I put the pickles right on the counter. And for the next three, four days, nobody touched either of them. So the pickles just sat on the counter and I thought, well, okay, whatever, when it comes time for me to go, we’d separate.
And I’m like, I’m taking my stuff. So I grabbed my giant jar pickles. I mean, it’s, it’s that big, it’s big grabbed my giant jar of pickles and realized, oh, the porcupine can’t leave that in Airbnb freezer, probably penalties. But I thought I’ve sort of. Ben with that thing. It’s not fully salvageable. So I run next door to some fancy mountain bikers because it’s sparked city.
And I say, guys, I need an ax. Oh yeah, here you go. It’s a nice, it’s a pretty nice ax. And so I run back to the garage for wax and I had my four paws ditch, the rest of the porcupine and the garbage salvaged the paws and went into the kitchen and wash the ax off real good with soap and water and went back to the guys and said, thank you so much for the acts.
What do you need it for? Porcupine salvage. No big deal. So anyways, I load up my stuff. I load up my paws, my claws, and my pickles into my truck. And I’m heading north on interstate 15 and I’m about 60 miles south of Dylan. Again, it is just after a thunderstorm that kind of after a thunderstorm where the sun is so bright on the pavement and the rain is just evaporating off of that pavement.
So you can just feel it and see it leave the earth that rain, that same rain was thick on the Sage. In those Prairie’s so thick that, that Sage. With sneaking its way into the cab of the pickup truck. And it was awesome. I wish I had my sunglasses, but they were packed away with my paws and my claws.
That’s when I saw her. That’s when I saw her. And that’s when I saw her thumb. There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over, backed up. I get out of my truck, right.
Then she swings this big old backpack off of her shoulders. And I look at her and her shirt was stained with earth and strain and pain. And I said, oh my gosh, what can I, can I help you? You need help. And she says, if you could give me a ride to Lima, I would love it. I’m like, yeah, get in. I’ll grab your pack.
So she gets in the truck, I grabbed her pack. I’m like, whoa, damn. I said, girl only picked up one porcupine. How many gotten this backpack? Threw it in the back of my truck, got in the truck. And when I got in the truck, when both doors closed, there was the smell of human. Sweat
a bit of wet dog. It was so bad that I wished I had the porcupine in the backseat of the truck and she sticks her dirty handout and says, I’m birdie. Thanks so much for helping me. And she says, I don’t think I smell very good. And I said, no shit. And I said, Bernie, what are you doing? And I said, how can I help you?
And she says, I’ve been food lists for two days. I got chased by a grizzly bear, lightening storm, bad rain. And then I saw your truck and it was my hope to get out of this mess. And so I rambled up to the highway to get on, to get my thumb up in the air. And I said, I’m so happy to help you. I’ve got food. I, what can you, what can I do?
And she goes, I just got to get to the grocery store in Lima or Lima. And I said, well, what’s, what’s what’s tomorrow. What’s your plan? And she says, tomorrow, I’m coming right back here. I’m jumping back on the continental divide trail. I got to finish this thing. She was hunting it. So hiking it so solo. So I said, well, I can get you the Lima, but uh, I don’t know how you’re gonna resupply.
And she goes, I need to get to a grocery store. I said, birdie, there is no grocery store in Lima. And she said, I got silent. I said, I have all the food you need. I got plenty of food. And she goes, it’s not that the tears rolled down her dirty face and carved what looked like Topo lines from a map down her dirty cheeks.
And she said, food is not what I need. I have a ridiculous craving and have for the last two days
you’re taking up my time at that moment, whatever was playing on the radio, went silent. All of the angels from all of the people in Beaverhead county that had ever been hungry, tired, or perished on the Prairie, locked their wings in position. As I fumbled to reach over the seat to grab my giant ass bottle of pickles, I struggle over and get it onto the, onto the console.
And Birdie’s eyes were as big as the lid on that jar of pickles. And the tears came back following that same matter. Just ending up in a giant smile. At the end of her face, I pulled into Lima, we got out of the truck standing in the gravel and she insisted that we have a toast. She let me pick the first pickle out of the jar, which was good because her hands were filthy.
So we had a pickle toast in the Lima parking lot in the gravel. And I, we shared hugs, smiles, little tears, and I jumped back in the truck and started to drive away. And I caught birdie in the back rear view mirror of my truck. She was clutching that big ass jar of pickles and just kind of dragging her backpack along as dead weight.
And I queued up the John Prine. So what is the plan? What indeed is the plan? A little dirty birdie told me that there is no plan. All we have to do is add our own special ingredients.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Brent.
Brent Ruby is a research professor at the University of Montana and has been on a near 30-year quest to do good science. He also is committed to writing his own brand of ornery poetry during his relentless study of applied human physiology. One of Brent’s research goals is to effectively share his research findings to improve the health and performance of wildland firefighters. Brent spends time outside of his research in the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Jo and their border collies, Wrango and Banjo. Brent also enjoys building hollow wood stand up paddle boards, woodwork, art and writing children’s books. Check out his books, download free coloring book pages and more at wrangoandbanjo.com.That’s W-R-A-N-G-O-A-N-D-B-A-N-J-O.COM
Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share. I’ll bet you do! And I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!” The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. Why not participate? Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.
Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.
Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.
Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:
Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.
Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5
Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.
Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com
Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com
Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!
Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the “Stone Soup” live storytelling event.
Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.
Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.
Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.
Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.
Marc Moss: Tune in for those stories on the next Tell Us Something podcast.
Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com
To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit tellussomething.org