Tag Archives: Missoula

Missoula : Much to Celebrate.

I was born in Missoula but grew up saying I was from Butte. Birthplace of my parents and older brother, we moved to Butte when I was eight. Roots ran deep. We moved into Mom’s cousin Eleanor’s home, newly vacant following Eleanor’s marriage and relocation to Oregon. We lived blocks from Nana, an aunt, uncle, and cousins. Extended family peppered the city and, on the cusp of third grade, it didn’t take long to embrace Butte as my own.

I’ve been back in Missoula nearly thirty-eight years. The hospital where I took my first breath became the hospital where, as a new nurse, I had to call a wife to tell her that her husband had taken his last. My memory bank overflows with this and other Missoula memories—those forged in my early years and newer ones from 1978 and beyond.

Jon Krakauer’s Missoula and a subsequent Montana Supreme Court hearing thrust the Garden City into the national spotlight. It’s time to give shout-outs to recent Missoula news.

  • Noting our “rugged outdoorsy spirit,” Thrillist named Missoula one of “The Most Hippie Towns In America (That Aren’t Berkeley Or Boulder).” Though I neither drive a Subaru Outback nor own a Labrador retriever, this designation makes me proud.
  • Big Dipper Ice Cream is a “Best Ice Cream Parlor” nominee for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Started in the back of a brewery more than twenty years ago, what’s not to love? Currently number 2 on the leaderboard, you can vote daily here. (Voting ends May 23rd at 10:00 a.m. MST.)
  • In utero blood transfusions—possibly the only successful case in the United States to date—resulted in an early Mother’s Day gift for a Helena mom May 4th. According to Dr. Bardett Fausett, “In little old Missoula, Montana, we’re doing world-class fetal therapy.”
  • Missoula is preparing for another world-class event, too. Our tenth International Choral Festival will welcome thirteen choirs spanning four continents, July 13th-16th. Last festival, Rich and I had the privilege of hosting three lovely Taiwanese singers who still call me “Mom.”

 

Taiwanese singers Rainbow, Amy, & Tiffany at Missoula People's Market 2013.
Rainbow, Amy, & Tiffany at Missoula’s People Market

Pasque Flowers

The Power of Observation

ob·ser·va·tion

(äb-zər-vā’-shən) n. the act, practice, or power of noticing
Webster’s New World Dictionary: Third College Edition

In April, some of my Hellgate High School colleagues and I hiked Blue Mountain in search of wildflowers. Our trek held particular significance as we looked for pasque flowers in memory of two beloved staff members who had passed away in the preceding months.

Darcy, one of our biology teachers, had scouted Missoula’s hillsides days earlier. Though rain threatened and the weather forecast called for scattered thundershowers the afternoon of our scheduled hike, we set out. The delicate purple flowers our attendance clerk extraordinaire, Candice, had loved were in bloom. And we didn’t want to miss them.

Big Sky Country
                                                                           Big Sky Country

Some of us laughed as, battling our way through a swarm of gnats en route to a patch of pasque flowers, we felt Candice’s playful presence.

Pasque Flowers
              Pasque Flowers

Other flowers peppered the mountain for our viewing pleasure, too. Armed with field guides and the experienced eyes of several in attendance, we identified more than fifteen different wildflowers.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot
                    Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Bluebells
                                 Bluebells
Missoula Valley
                                                                          Missoula Valley

Later, after toasting the memories of Candice and Lisa, I marveled again at the observational skills of my fellow hikers as we recalled the names of the various flowers we’d identified. Though several had not yet bloomed, leaves had been clue enough for some of our wildflower sleuths.

The hikes I’ve taken since that afternoon have been with my senses heightened. I’ve spent more time reflecting on the beauty of this place I’ve lived—and often taken for granted—for the past thirty-six years. Hiking in Montana is good for the soul. It’s good for the mind, too, as I discovered in a recent magazine article.

“Pattern recognition is one of my strengths as an investor,” hedge fund founder Renée Haugerud said in the Spring 2014 issue of the Montanan. “I think every lesson in trading you can learn from nature.”

So head for the hills. The flowers of Woods Gulch and elsewhere–trillium, glacier lily, clematis, lady’s slipper, Indian paintbrush, everlasting, columbine and arnica–are calling your name.

Photos courtesy of Lee Brown