And let summer do its thing.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. —Socrates
Like many others, I live mostly by my calendar. If something’s not scheduled, underlined, and circled in red ink, it usually doesn’t happen. This kind of self-imposed order is a necessary evil, particularly for people who are trying to do it all: run a successful business (or two), be a good partner and friend, raise a family, and still keep up with the local hardbodies on the trail. But if Montana has taught me anything, it’s that summer doesn’t adhere to any schedule.
Last year, it snowed, rained, and sleeted until July. The year before was pretty nice—except for the months of forest-fire haze that made going for a long mountain-bike ride feel like smoking a pack of Marlboros. It’s only natural, then, that even my most meticulously-prepared, regularly-scheduled summer plans have often failed miserably. Snowy bike trips. Scorching climbing outings. Camping during the peak of deer-fly season. The more we try to anticipate and organize, to get ahead of our work and commitments—our ubiquitous American busyness—the less flexibility we have to account for Montana’s Montana-ness. It’s like a tragic Greek parable, with really expensive gear.
The solution is simple: chuck the calendar. This summer I’m not planning a damn thing. It’s time to slow it down, look only as far ahead as the next sunny day, and take a deep breath. Montana’s not going anywhere.
If it’s dry, climbing or biking will be great. If it’s hot, maybe a river trip is in order. If it’s smoky, there’s always swimming and fishing up at Hyalite. Nice night? Time for Music on Main or the farmers’ market. I’m going to try taking it day by day. The very worst result of an unplanned summer is that we might find time that is unaccounted for—spare, leisure, free time. Time to have a drink on the patio and watch the sun set over the Tobacco Roots; time to cast a line on the Gallatin; time to talk to our neighbors or take a ride out of town.
There’s so much to do here, in this best of last best places, that it’s easy to get lost in the doing. But part of our responsibility is to recognize and enjoy what we have. To look around and see all of the goodness. It’s Bozeman. It’s summer. It’s time to clear the calendar.