By Ann Minnett
There are two seasons in NW Montana: winter and construction.
July is the first month of construction, aka glorious summer—quite a jolt to our economy and to the locals’ daily life. The temperatures warm enough to permit road repairs, and all the work must be done in a hurry. Meanwhile, walking-jogging-biking-hiking tourists flood our small town until the end of August. My home town is your vacation destination.
I like to watch summer visitors from a deli with a window-facing counter onto Central Avenue. Visitors saunter past within arm’s reach. Young parents herd small children, reminding me that disturbing a little person’s routine on vacation can be a hassle for the whole family. Small groups of women schlep shopping bags with logos from familiar shops. I recognize myself among them, driven to find the perfect earrings in each vacation spot. I wonder at the outfits they will pair with Montana-made bead and bear earrings back in Connecticut or more likely Los Angeles.
Retirement age couples tend to stop on the corner to spin in full circles, taking in rustic storefronts, fluttering USA and Canada flags, and lush petunia baskets hanging from quaint lampposts. I’m fascinated by the couple-ness of the older crowd. Given their ages, they’ve experienced joys and tragedies and everything in between—together. They approach my window in the cool shaded sidewalk of the deli displaying a choreographed dance of stop, go, twirl, wait on the other, switch places, tap on the elbow, share a quiet word. They are on vacation with hopefully no worries other than choosing between the veggie wrap and chicken salad on whole wheat bagel for lunch. Life is good in NW Montana.