The Star of Bethlehem

Hale-Bopp Comet was photographed in 1997. Could the Star of Bethlehem have been a comet like this one?

Like many folks, I grew up with and have subsequently taught to my children and grandchildren, the Christmas story of the Star of Bethlehem.

Montana backcountry skiing offers solitude, powder

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, DEC. 13-14 - FILE - This June 15, 2011, file photo, shows the view from Going-To-The Sun Road overlooking McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park, Mont. Montana boasts 15 ski areas, but for backcountry skiers the number of "ski areas" in the state is almost infinite. (AP Photo/Daily Inter Lake, Brenda Ahearn, FILE)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Montana boasts 15 ski areas, but for backcountry skiers the number of “ski areas” in the state is almost infinite.

Idaho Trails: Gifts that get consumed

Alexis Plum, of Idaho Falls, climbs up the interesting basalt cliffs near the Wolf Flats area along the South Fork of the Snake River on Saturday. Warm fall weather has many people pursuing activities other than snow sports.um, of Idaho Falls, climbs up the interesting basalt cliffs near the Wolf Flats area along the South Fork of the Snake River on Saturday. Warm fall weather has many people pursuing activities other than snow sports. (Photo Courtesy of Emma Salomon)

Last week, I wrote about giving the gift of stoke — things to promote excitement to get outdoors. This week, I have another suggestion: consumables.

Nature Column: Lessons from chocolate

This is the pod of the cocoa tree and is the beginning of a chocolate treat. However, there are many steps involved before a bitter cocoa bean becomes delectable chocolate.

I will never forget the first time (and the last time) I sampled unsweetened baking chocolate. It seemed like a good idea. After all, it looked like chocolate and smelled like chocolate.

Hope in Western battle against cheatgrass

In this 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management cheatgrass in southern Idaho grows in between native sagebrush and juniper trees. A century-long losing battle has been waged in the West against an invasive weed that is responsible for massive wildfires and threatens native species and rangeland. Now, some 65 years after famed naturalist Aldo Leopold summed up the general consensus in the battle against cheatgrass as hopeless, there might be some hope. (AP Photo/U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A century-long losing battle has been waged in the West against an invasive weed that is responsible for massive wildfires and threatens native species and rangeland.

Subscribe to