A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Tchaikovsky’

Swan Lake, Montana

Posted by graywacke on September 12, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2120; A Landing A Day blog post number 548.

 Dan:  Gee whiz.  I can’t get out of the greater Northern Utah / Idaho / Western Montana region (four in a row!).  Here’s my second recent visit to OSer . . . MT; 121/102; 4/10; 6; 148.7. 

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

Here’s a regional map showing my last four landings:

 landing 1a

My local landing map shows my proximity to Swan Lake:

 landing 2

Zooming back a little, you can see how close today’s landing (2120) is to landing 2117:

 landing 2a

Here’s a map showing my more local watersheds:

 landing 3

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Silvertip Creek; on to the Spotted Bear River (1st hit!); on to the South Fork of the Flathead River (2nd hit – and the first hit was the nearby landing 2117!).  Moving back a little, we can see more of the watershed story:

 landing 3a

 From the South Fork of the Flathead River, on to the Flathead River (12th hit); to the Clark Fork (20th hit); to the Pend Oreille (22nd hit); to the Mighty Columbia (152nd hit).

OK, so you can’t see it on the map, but you’ll have to trust me that south of Flathead Lake, the Flathead flows into the Clark Fork . . .

It’s time for the Google Earth trip from Yellow Pine to Swan Lake:



Here’s a static oblique GE shot, looking north – what a cool spot!


Moving back, we see a fascinating geological landscape (still looking north):


Wow.  There’s some awesome geology going on here.  I wish I knew the story so I could relate it everyone.  It looks like the white beds are tilted, sloping upward to the west (that would be dipping east, to use correct terminology).  The rocks are totally different moving west, but it’s tough to figure out the structure.  Oh, well.

So, on to Swan Lake.  From SwanLakeMontana.org:

In the early 1900’s Swan Lake began as a community of loggers cutting timber for lumber and the ties to build the Great Northern Railroad. Some say that our name comes from the trumpeter swans that used to populate the lake.  Others say that it was named after Emmett Swan, an early resident. Others simply say the name comes from the mountains to our east. No matter how we got the name, Swan Lake is known today as home to those who enjoy everything this part of Montana has to offer.

I couldn’t really find a geographical, geological or historical hook.  The lake valley was dug out / dammed up by the glaciers (no surprise there).  So where to go with this post?  How about back to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, or, more specifically, his best-known ballet piece, none other than Swan Lake.  Here’s ol’ Pyotr’s picture (from Wiki):

True confessions:  I had no clue what this incredibly famous composer looked like!

Continuing my true confession, I had no clue what “Swan Lake” is all about.  So, I lifted a synopsis of the story line from the Houston Ballet website.  Right up front, let me apologize for the irreverent comments that I’ve inserted.  Hey – I’m just being honest (and left-brained).  Well, here goes:

 Act I

 Scene I: Deep in a Dark Wood

Odette, a young maiden, is in the forest.  The evil knight Rothbart appears and captures her, turning her into a white swan.

[“Ho Hum. I think I’ll turn this woman into a swan.  Why?  Because I can.”]

She is cursed to remain a swan during the day, and a maiden at night.

[Why not the other way around?  Why not a full-time swan?  Oh, well.]

Scene II: A Royal Hunt at the Edge of the Wilderness

Later, the young Prince Siegfried and his entourage arrive in the forest and set up camp, celebrating the day’s hunt.  The Queen calls her son aside and reminds him that tomorrow is an important day, as he is now a man and eligible for marriage.

She introduces him to four eligible young princesses, but he is distant and uninterested.

[Why would any healthy, red-blooded young man be disinterested??  Did he have a premonition that his one true love was soon to appear?]

The Queen sternly warns him that this is the last night of his youth and that he must soon take on the responsibility of adulthood.  Upset, Siegfried decides to leave the camp and venture out into the woods alone.

 Scene III: In the Forest

Deep in the forest that evening along the edge of a lake, Siegfried sees a young maiden.  Odette is beautiful, and he falls instantly in love.

[Oh, all right.  Love at first sight.  I get that.]

However, she is terrified, and begs him to leave, to no avail.  Charmed by his bravery, Odette finds herself falling in love with him.

As the sun begins to rise, the evil knight Rothbart summons Odette.  She goes to him and is transformed into a swan and flies away.  Soon thereafter, a large flock of swans lands on the lake.  Hunters from the royal party see the flock and prepare to shoot, but the Prince intervenes and orders them not to shoot.  Siegfried notices that one of the swans is Odette and he professes his love to her.

[Odette’s a swan.  How does Siegfried recognize her?  A distinctive birth mark?  Also – he professes his love to her!  Can Odette the swan understand Russian?]


Act II

The next night, the Queen hosts a ball and presents eligible princesses to her son, but the Prince pays little attention.  Suddenly, Rothbart and a maiden dressed in black arrive.

[Rothbart can crash the Queen’s party?  What about security?]

It is Odile.  She is the mirror image of Odette.

[The old “mirror image” trick.]

The Prince is smitten with the mysterious woman in black and begs his mother to consider the new arrival.

[Are you kidding me?  So quickly, he has forgotten about Odette?]

Siegfried and Odile dance and he proclaims his love for her; he tells his mother that he wants to marry Odile.

[I’m sorry, Sieggy’s a loser.]

Just then, Siegfried sees Odette in the crowd.  She is horrified by the betrayal and runs out.  The prince runs to Odile and realizes that she is one of Rothbart’s swans and that he has been fooled.

[Fooled?  Lousy excuse for abandoning your true love!]

The devastated prince chases Rothbart as he flees the court.



While it’s still dark, the Prince arrives at the edge of the lake in the forest and begs the distraught Odette for forgiveness.

The sun comes up and the maidens turn back into swans in the morning mist.

Before long, Rothbart and his black swans appear and he summons all of the swans, including Odette.  The Prince, desperate to be with his love, grabs his crossbow to kill Rothbart. The Prince shoots, but his arrow hits Odette (the swan) instead.

[I hate it when that happens.  Imagine if his aim were better – the ballet sure would have a different ending . . .]

Rothbart holds Odette in his arms but when she falls, she is a maiden.  The spell Rothbart cast on Odette is broken, and the Prince runs to her.  Odette, as a woman, dies in the Prince’s arms.

He picks up her body and walks into the lake, drowning himself.  Young maidens appear from the forest, forever changed.

Phew.  OK – so, maybe with beautiful music and beautiful dancing, I wouldn’t be so cynical.  Speaking of beautiful music and beautiful dancing, I’ll move right along to some of both.  This is Four Little Swans, performed by the Marlinsky Ballet and posted by ClassicClips10:



I’ll then move right along to this clip of a performance by the Great Chinese State Circus (posted by Alyaz).  Note that there have been nearly 26 million views:



Enough classical music & ballet!  Time for some Panoramio pictures.  Once again, I’ll stay as close to my landing as possible.  I’ll start with this shot of the Spotted Bear River, about 4 mi NW of my landing (by AngKillian):

 pano angkillian spotted bear 4 mi NW

I wonder if the river bed with potholes looks like a spotted bear from some vantage point?  

All the rest of the pictures are by MontanaBackPacker.  Here’s a shot taken two miles east of my landing, looking east towards Pentagon Mountain:

 pano montanbackpacker 2 mi E looking E

Here’s another shot, also about two miles east, looking SW towards Silvertip Mountain:

 pano montanabackpacker 2 mi E looking SW towards silvertip peak

I’ll close with this stunning shot (from the same area), looking north:

 pano montanabackpacker 2 mi E looking N





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