It’s my last morning in Missoula for a while. Recently I went for a walk in the North Hills, my favorite hiking area in town, and took a journal with me. Looking down on Missoula, I thought, “thank you.” For all the experiences I had here–as a young woman, a student, a teacher, a friend. For the town, for the state, for grad school, for the people I met here, and for the nearly two years I spent here.
But also for the details. The “authenticating details,” as they are sometimes called in writing: those details that make an experience, a moment, or a person unique–authentic. Recalling my favorite authenticating details of this town, I thank Missoula…
- for the shelf of surprise sales items at Orange Street Food Farm: specialty jams from around the world; organic cookies and crackers; odd-ball flavors of juice, tea, and soda
- for the rowdy (a certain friend might call them “naughty”) bartenders and falling-apart stools and chairs at Kettlehouse South, the local brewery that everyone seems to love in spite of all that
- for the Subarus, oh, the Subarus!
- for the bike lanes on Higgins
- for the excitement of waiting in line for 20 minutes before finally getting close enough to the whiteboard at Big Dipper to see the day’s special ice cream flavors: Irish cream?, barbeque?, Cold Smoke (a local beer)?, avocado?, maple bacon?
- Jeannette Rankin Hall, home to Social Work and Environmental Studies on The University of Montana campus, where I spent many fond hours in various offices (named for the first woman elected to Congress, who was from Missoula)
- for the M, always there
- for the Clark Fork, always there
- for crossing the Orange Street bridge northbound and looking up to the North Hills, blushing green in spring, with the snowy peaks of the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area beyond
- for sale prices at the Good Food Store
- for finding a parking spot at the Good Food Store
- for the local breweries, all of them (and the one or two I always forget…): Kettlehouse, Big Sky, Tamarack, Flathead Lake, Draughtworks, Bayern
- for the narrow pedestrian lanes of the Higgins Street bridge sidewalk
- for the Clark Fork River Market: homemade donuts sold by that sweet young family, rhubarb slushies, assorted buskers, and that kid–he can’t be more than 11–with the card table and his laundry basket of crispy-sweet cucumbers, three for $1
- for cheap but tasty local treats: $3 pizza slices at the Bridge, $2 pain au chocolat at Le Petit Outre bakery, $4 beers, $3 sundaes
- for the variety of trails near town–and all the birds, flowers, and trees of them
- for down jackets, the sea of them–puffy and colorful–at breweries all winter long
- for free or cheap parking, everywhere you go
- for evening walks, westward, along the River Trail–when the gold of sunset washes the entire valley and the light is honey cutting between purple clouds and casting Mt. Sentinel and Mt. Jumbo in a warm glow and sparking up off the rolling river textures of the Clark Fork, always there
It’s not a comprehensive list of reasons why I appreciate Missoula, but it gets at some of the little aspects of life that made this town in western Montana such a comfortable and fun place to call “home.” Thanks for the memories, Missoula.