April Ups and Downs

Last year when I first moved to Montana, several people suggested that I plan a vacation in March or April. They would say things like, “You’re going to be ready for a getaway by then. March can be brutal.” As the calendar rolls into the second half of April, I now understand what they were getting at.

The snow began to diminish from my yard in late March, and the sight of my lawn reappearing was certainly welcome. Then came the first rain of 2019, and I was instantly longing for more of that fluffy white stuff. After all, I had escaped the Seattle area and those miserable gray days. I was also mourning the fact that I had probably enjoyed my last day of cross-country skiing for the season.

I had experienced the effect of the thaw and freeze on the roads as the snow was melting, too. There were several days where I was driving through the frozen ruts. That was a bit treacherous. The temperature swings were from freezing to the 50s.

A week ago, we experienced some snow flurries here. I had been pleasantly surprised with one last day of downhill skiing two weekends ago, but I thought we were done here in the lowlands. There were no accumulations, though. It was just Mother Nature reminding me that I do indeed live in Montana.

Now we seem to be into the kind of spring weather that I had expected. Many days are a combination of sun and rain, but I can’t complain. Flowers are beginning to bloom, and we’re seeing temperatures as high as the sixties. On Easter Sunday as I was preparing for dinner guests, I swear that every time I looked out the window, my yard was turning greener. I’ll be mowing any day now.

I came to Montana to experience all four seasons, and I’m not disappointed by any means. Maybe next March I’ll plan that escape, but for now, I still feel like I’m living in Vacationland.

Making My Own Tracks

It’s been snowing steadily for more than twenty-four hours, and there was already more than a foot of snow on the ground before it started. As I write this afternoon, the winds are picking up, and tonight the temperatures are going to drop below zero. So this is what people were talking about when they questioned whether I could handle a Montana winter.

Can I handle it? You mean, do I love it? I moved to Montana to experience real winters like this. After a lifetime as a Seattle-area resident, I longed for an end to the rain-soaked days and gray skies. For years, I had dreamed of living in a place where I could cross-country ski all winter long. And today, I checked one more thing off my Montana wish list. I skied from my front door.

I have to admit, I do love the arrival of my snowplow guy, but today I was hoping he wouldn’t make it, or maybe he could just delay his arrival. There is something so satisfying about watching his truck push aside all that snow in minutes. I love how all that pure white powder piles up along the sides of my driveway and near my porch. But today, I really wanted to make a cross-country ski course around the house. My neighbor was amused by my idea and welcomed me to expand the course into her yard, too. By one this afternoon, there was no sign of him. It was time to get the skis.

First, I had to make a run to the mailbox. Since the neighborhood hadn’t been plowed either, I popped on the skis and made the quarter-mile trek without incident. Okay, that was a good warm-up. Then I decided to go beyond my yard. I trudged through a foot of powder, down the thin strip of common area behind the neighbors’ houses. Next, I went around the corner to the golf course. How could I possibly resist all of that pristine, wide-open space?

It was hard work, but worth it, and the trip back over my tracks proved a bit easier. To finish off my adventure, I made the ski course I had envisioned in our two adjoining yards. I have to say it was much more fun than building a snowman!

So, can I handle a Montana winter? Yes, and I can handle so much more. I am adventurous, resilient, and more of a risk-taker at this stage of my life than I ever have been before. I have experienced more “living” in the past six months than in any other six-month period of my life. Have I made mistakes? Yes. Has everything worked out according to plan? No. Do I have regrets? Absolutely not. Did my snowplow guy ever make it? Nope.

And Then the Sun Came Out

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post but decided to delete it. You see, one of my goals in blogging is to keep a positive mindset. I had gone through a couple of rough days where doubts were filling my head. A series of negative events, which were mostly beyond my control, had brought me down. I then began to question my choice to make an out-of-state move and start a new career as an entrepreneur.

We’ve all been there. You know how it feels when you are at rock-bottom. You know it will end, but the pain and the fear are so very real at the time. Usually, it just takes someone or something to pull you out of it.

I can’t tell you exactly what it was. Maybe it was my super-positive new friend with whom I spent some time yesterday morning. Maybe it was the book I read last night that got me thinking about my hopes for the future. Maybe it was my new neighbor waving her hands to get my attention this afternoon, just because she wanted to say hello as I was walking by. Maybe it was all of those things that made me realize life is pretty darn good right now.

Change can be scary, but it can also be so very wonderful. After chatting with my neighbor, I continued walking with a grateful heart, taking in the mountain views that attracted me to Montana. My tension eased as I realized I was back to being myself; the late summer afternoon sun had never felt better.

Garbage Day

A friend back home told me that things would be different in Montana and that it would be like going back in time a bit. For me, this is mostly a good thing, in fact, a great thing. People are friendly and don’t appear to be moving at an ultra-fast pace all the time.  Individuals bending over with their eyes glued to a smartphone are a rarity. Most I’ve met take the time to chat and get to know me. I’m highly social, so I enjoy that.

One of the first things I learned is that most homes don’t have trash pick up, at least not in the smaller towns. In fact, my real estate agent seemed to think I was a little silly when I asked her about it. “You just go to the container site,” she responded.

The what?

My environmentally-minded Seattle area friends probably remember the days of going to a recycling site up through the 1980s and into the early ’90s.  Well, the container site is kind of like that, but there are also dumpsters for trash. And you have to sort everything else: cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum cans. Plastic, glass or metal cans? Nope. Those just go in the dumpsters. (It’s not a lack of environmental consciousness, though. China has stopped accepting plastic and metals for recycling.)

Therefore, I’ve designated Thursday as garbage day.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off when the temperatures dip or my beloved garage starts to stink.  But right now it’s rather satisfying to sort and dump.



The Journey Begins

I’ve been saying that I want to write for quite some time. So here I am! Actually, I have only lived “here” for eight days. I’ve packed up and moved to the beautiful state of Montana. Not a second home, but my new home.

I started making plans for this move about a year ago. I was four years out of a divorce, had been teaching for over twenty-five years, and really, really needed to make a change. First, I made lists. What do I really want? How can I truly find contentment? Then, I did quite a bit of reading. Finally, I did some in-person investigating. I visited the places at the top of my list, and then met with real estate agents. I wasn’t messing around or just talking about it; I was doing it.

Besides the divorce, I was at that turning point known as the empty nest. Fortunately, my kids turned out alright and had begun supporting themselves. This is what really opened the door for a big change. (Yes, I do consider myself quite fortunate.) Additionally, I hadn’t been particularly successful in the dating game and was unattached. Many people had told me I was picky. Darn right! Why would I compromise and agree to spend the rest of my life with someone unless he was going to make my life better, and I could do the same for him?  Essentially, there was nothing left to hold me in place.

And that brings me to the purpose of my blog. I just want to share and express myself. I do have some strong opinions, but I’m not out here to create controversy. I’ve had enough of that. I just want to write, and see what happens. I do hope to entertain and hopefully make you laugh, as well as provoke some thoughts.

cloudy sky