Summer in Missoula is more than a season, more than a series of dates on a calendar. It is a state of mind. A time to explore a little more, stay out a little later, be a little bolder, and find gratitude for each day. In Missoula, summer is all these things and more, because there is truly no place better to spend a summer than in Montana. Summer may mean something different to each individual person, but to us, summer is...
Summer is golds and reds and oranges and pinks, where it can be past bedtime and still the sun shines its rays and reflects off the clouds, silhouetting the mountains behind the ever-light the Missoula sky until the stars and moon take over for the night. It is breathtaking and bold and extraordinary and natural all at once, a cacophony of colors in the late evening sky.
Summer is a pint glittering in the sunlight as a cold drink drips condensation into the warm afternoon heat. Surrounded by friends old and new, and strangers who are really friends you've yet to know, summer is the potted flowers on patios, the umbrellas all angled just so to create the perfect balance of shade. It is tangy and sweet, good to the last drop (or until you order another).
Summer is the crisp morning air lingering on slightly-cool noses and cheeks, warm toes and hearts nestled in a sleeping bag. The whole day lies in front of you like a make-your-own-adventure story. Sit and relax, enjoying the sounds of the forest come to life with the summer warmth. Find a trail to walk or a mountain peak to summit before coming back to camp to rest. The trajectory of the day is completely up to you. There is no time limit except for that of the sun's; no expectations and no worries. The cool night is waiting for you at day's end, beckoning you to rest and repeat tomorrow.
Summer is the river, steady and unwavering. A place for relaxing, or reel adventures, or riding rapids. It is the never-ceasing heartbeat that keeps our city alive. A constant presence, a power beyond all recognition, whether you notice it or not.
Summer is a farmer's market booth, colorful and vibrant. The hard work of the year manifesting itself in these simple joys. A thank you letter for patience, because good things do not happen over night and they rarely stay forever. A reminder to taste the sweetness while you can, and savor the fresh flavors before harvest season ends and winter sets in. But it is winter that makes the fruit taste so sweet. Winter that reminds us to slow down and enjoy the colors while they are here now.
Summer is sweet anticipation, as the sun lingers in the sky but the heat has taken a beat for the day. It is that first guitar riff or tapping of drumsticks that signals "now," where the waiting ends and the experience begins. Harmonies and melodies echoing through the mountain valleys as night takes its form. The feeling of togetherness that comes from singing the same words in a crowd of strangers, reminding us that we are never truly alone.
Summer is a trailhead, expectant the waiting. A subtle excitement that builds and builds but subsides into bliss as you take those first few steps onto the trail. It might not always be easy, but it will always be worth it. The views from the top remind us that adversity is just an open invitation to strive for the beauty that the world has to offer. The trail greets you like an old friend saying, "It's about time we adventured together again."
Summer is joining together under Missoula's big summer sky and celebrating another year. It is looking around at faces you may have seen before but can't quite place, or maybe the faces are brand new and you're seeing them for the first of many times, or maybe this one time will be it. No matter what, in this moment, you are one in a crowd of community. At the market, at a concert, at a festival, or on the streets-- the where is not important. What matters is that you are here now. It is warm outside and you are gathered under the summer sun as if to say "we have been waiting for this." Enjoy it while you can. Soak up all the rays. September will come, with her cozy clouds and warming hues, and then December with the blanket of white, and we will once again gather inside in small groups, pining for summer when we can be together as a community outside and shining once more.