MissouLOVE: Things That Make Missoula Home

By JEN SLAYDEN

It’s that time of year again. The word GRATITUDE is tossed around, played with, stuffed into us, and gobbled up like a Thanksgiving bird.

I’m not complaining. I love the word, I really do. I even keep a gratitude journal. And there isn’t another town I have ever lived in that shows gratitude the way Missoula does!

But what does gratitude mean anyway? The dictionary describes it as a noun. An appreciation, thanksgiving, recognition, indebtedness. Yes, I believe it is all these things, and more.

One of the coolest thing about Missoula is that Missoulians use the word gratitude as a verb. An obligation, an action. We see it as a means to help others, volunteer our time, try to be good stewards of the land, embrace and appreciate the various personalities of our very diverse valley. In essence, we MissouLOVE.

So, as we head into the Thanksgiving-induced stupor of dark turkey, or perhaps tofurkey, here in Missoula, I would like to shout out (because shouting is a verb) my top ten list of things I MissouLOVE.

10. I MissouLOVE the seasons. I get giddy with excitement when the snow flies, and I even get snowed in sometimes, living on the other side of the mountain.

9. I MissouLOVE the incredible talent of artists, musicians, writers, and creative souls among our valley that energize and bring beauty to all our senses.

8. I MissouLOVE that there are very diverse people who can appreciate and respect each other despite differences. I have been impressed and amazed by the richness of my various, eclectic relationships that are filled with more colorful characters than an Ivan Doig novel.

7. I MissouLOVE that we have fabulous team spirit for our beloved Griz Nation. Since moving from Bozeman and graduating from the UM, I have remained faithful to the maroon and silver. I never did look good in yellow and blue anyhow.

6. I MissouLOVE the history of Missoula, and the history of my little town, Bonner, on the other side of the mountain. I appreciate that we have museums that continue to reach out to educate us all about who was here before us and take measures to keep local historic landmarks saved and stories alive.

5. I MissouLOVE the M and the L. Who doesn’t? In twenty minutes, I can turn a crappy mood into a glorious, exercise-induced high while still watching a Griz game or seeing the river run below. I can meditate above yellow, orange, red, and brown autumn leaves turning the Garden City into a picture worth a thousand words.

4. I MissouLOVE the awareness to buy local and support local businesses. I am grateful that the Sustainable Business Council is promoting a Holiday Buy Local Campaign and working hard to support our friends and neighbors and educate the public about the importance of buying locally.

3. I MissouLOVE Caras Park, Out to Lunch, the Farmers’ Market in the summer, First Friday, and all the other downtown activities that the Missoula Downtown Association helps organize and support.

2. I MissouLOVE floating, fishing, and recreating in and around this town that the river runs through. How lucky we are, Missoula, to be in a city where, according to Missoula Parks and Rec we have “more than 400 acres of city parkland, 20,000 park and boulevard trees, 22 miles of trails, and 3,300 acres of conservation lands.”

1. Finally, I MissouLOVE the DO-ERS. Yes, that encompasses most Missoulians. I live here because people aren’t just talk. They don’t talk skiing. They GO skiing. Missoulians don’t feel sorry for people, they get off the couch and rally a fund-raiser, or an auction, or a neighborhood garage sale to help each other out in times of need or sorrow. (When the local Food Bank were short on turkeys to feed families earlier this week, Missoulians came out in flocks and donated hundreds of turkeys. Because that is how Missoulians roll!) They don’t go to the zoo to see bears. They see them in nature, and some even fight them off with sticks after running 16 miles up Pattee Canyon.

In short, Missoulians JUST DO IT.

So, from my side of the mountain, on this snowy day where I cannot get to town, I wish you, my dear Missoulians, a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This list of ten is just a snippet. What do you MissouLOVE? What are the activities, people or places that Make it Missoula?

Respond and share what you MissouLOVE, and you might win a Holiday-wrapped copy of my newly-released CD: Cellobies!- Relaxation for All Generations. ‘Cause, being active Missoulians, we all need a few moments to relax. Winner will be announced December 1st!

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Enjoy this story by Jen Slayden? You might enjoy some of her other musing on life on the other side of the mountain: Missoula Moms Test Senator Tester, Missoula is Like Relaxed Fit Jeans, and Autumn Comes to Bonner.

    Visit The Other Side of the Mountainarchive.

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 Jen Slayden is a Missoulian who makes her home on the outskirts of town with three outdoorsy kids, a fly-fishing guide husband, and an outdoors-loving black lab named Cody. She juggles her time teaching music, life coaching, playing music in her family bluegrass band, and taking in all the great recreational and cultural activities that Missoula has to offer. Then, she writes about it all on her own website: Find YourHarmony.