Monday, January 10, 2011

Walkin' Jim ...

There's no doubt that Montana has long had more than its share of intriguing personalities ... one of the great things about this state is the way it attracts free spirits. One of the state's freest spirits belonged to a singer and wilderness advocate named "Walkin' Jim" Stoltz, who passed away back in September at age 57.

Walkin' Jim spent his winters working down at Big Sky, but the rest of the time he mostly spent ... walking. He reportedly hiked over 27,000 miles in his adult life, mostly in wilderness, crossing the length of the country in most every direction. He had a guitar along on some of those trips, and the folk songs he wrote led to a second career as a recording artist and concert-giver. His website called him a "troubadour for the Earth," which is a pretty accurate description. A fascinating and memorable guy, indeed.

Jim was also an artist and poet, and I thought I'd share one of his poems here. He penned these lines in 1995 to memorialize Edward Abbey, the famous and eccentric chronicler of wild country in the American southwest ... but the words are a fitting tribute to Walkin' Jim, as well.

Northern lights blazing over the desert,
Dancing eagles crying in the sky,
Coyote knows that somethings gone,
The canyon wind mourns good-bye.

Your words, dropped so,
Led me by the hand,
Opening doors I never thought to look behind
Desert pearls
Like grains of sand
They piled up fast and spread with time.

Northern lights rolling ‘cross the night,
Lion screaming at the highway’s shoulder,
The canyon sleeps
While miles away
Another needle
Falls from the pinyon.

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