The dog days hit in August; they are the long, hot, tired summer days when thoughts of a return to routine and cooler temperatures becomes appealing. The river is low, the hills are dry, and lately, there has been a smoky haze that blankets the Missoula Valley. These are the days, when I fantasize about coming home from work to frosty lemonade, a fresh New Yorker, and laying on the hammock under the shade of our pear tree. Instead, I pour a glass of wine, go to the bedroom, where the wall-mounted air conditioning unit has blowing cool air since lunch, and veg in front of the TV for last 15 minutes of Ellen.


I get these similar dull feelings during the muddy brown, cool winter days in February and March. Despite the greening grass and the waxy, bold tips of spring bulbs, true spring is still weeks, or really months away.  The streets are banked by old snow and piles of sand, yards are matted and cars are caked with grime. How is there no term for these dismal days? I feebly suggest “the groundhog sucks days” or “the more mud days.”

At my house, brown February days (and all the slow days until April 15) are also tax season days. When Clem comes home I ask how his day was, and well, he did taxes. At night,  he is doing VITA taxes. He starts his morning reviewing tax stuff. His weekends are spent doing tax stuff. When I was in full on Mom mode, there were plenty of things to do. I don’t think I have fully adjusted though to being an empty nester, especially when it comes to these short days and long nights. What to do? There is always yoga, going to the gym, and going for walks. But the days are still short. This year, it is so warm, that I don’t need to wear hats and gloves when I get my 10,000 steps.  And, this year, I am working on my mom’s campaign for the state legislature. This project is fun…. Vote for Marilyn Ryan!


I love skiing, but it’s hard to think about hitting the slopes when the robins have returned to Western Montana. I have been on the road for the last five out of six weekends. I usually travel for work once a month, but I have no travel in February. At the office, I’m preparing for Expo West, the biggest trade show Kamut International does in Anaheim. Thoughts of warm, sunny California weather distract me from being in the present.


This afternoon, with these restless, dingy thoughts, augmented by hints of green and warmth, and knowing I will be on a beach in three weeks, I wandered into the  Strongwater Mountain Surf Co. to order my Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) courtesy of a generous Christmas present from husband Clem and brother Paul. Since I tried SUP last summer on the Clark Fork River, I’ve been thinking thoughts of SUP on rivers, SUP on Georgetown Lake, yoga SUP… whatever. I want to be standing on a broad, floating board, instead of wandering Missoula streets in boots and tights! It is a most Zen, energizing and relaxing way to enjoy the best of western Montana.  Luke Rieker, owner of Strongwater was very helpful and despite a few distractions, was able to come up with a great Riviera inflatable SUP package for me.  Given that I’ll order my board and that warm-enough days are still a way off, I am completely satisfied to spend these middling days waiting for my SUP and dreaming of sunny, on-the-water days.