Winter Saunter

Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated by winter weather driving – I mean really, I have a Subaru for goodness sake, this is, in part, what they’re made for. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when it would be ill-advised to venture out, but I did not deem today to be one of those days.

Instead, I labeled today’s blustery conditions and smoke-machine-esque ice-marbled roads as a prime time to uphold my self-proclaimed status as a gal who enjoys pushing against the commonly held feminine norms, such as exists around: traveling solo, driving in inclement weather on sketchy roads, and eating out in public with only the company of a good book and writing supplies.

After an hour spent at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, I landed at the Dixon Mercantile, a place so delightfully quaint that I instantly felt right at home.

There’s something extremely satisfying and life-affirming in skirting collective modes of operation, such as heading north on a solo saunter on Sunday February 3rd in near white-out conditions, and living to tell the tale.

P.S If you live in the area or are ever in the area of western Montana, the Dixon Mercantile (in Dixon, MT) is only 40 miles from Missoula and they are almost solely only open on Sundays from 9-2 for brunch. The owner Laura is super great, the food was really good, and they make homemade fresh bread and pastries. Need I say more?


Yesterday, I spent 5 uninterrupted hours writing, pretty well glued in the same spot the whole time with only the occasional tea making and bio break to incite bodily movement away from my keyboard. It was glorious.

Today, I road on up north, as any asphalt adventurer knows, it’s unwise to disobey the call of the open road when it summons thee. I followed tire tracks instead of painted lines and in an area thick with mountains, I managed to see none all the way to Arlee and then Dixon.

To be fair, I did consider not heading out on my drive-about prior to leaving the house, once I was confronted with the state of weather happening outside. But it was only about 2% of me that sat in question; the other 98% urged me eagerly onward ho.

Besides, I DID go to all the trouble of running a brush through my hair like two times before putting a winter hat on AND putting on cold-hardy clothes over the top of my pajamas. I was also well equipped with the essentials of winter travel: a fresh Contigo full of tea, my camera, writing supplies, a Subaru, and a good attitude.

And, I figured, one never grows familiar and accustomed to a thing, if said thing is never done.

Sometimes, what’s called for is to foster connection with members of my beloved tribe of humans, as I did last weekend. And sometimes, what’s called for is to bolster the relationship I have with myself, as I’ve been doing this weekend.


Little else can uplift one’s spirit in the same fashion as quality time spent in the out of doors.


Little else can enliven one’s affection for strangers than patroning a small Montana homegrown eatery.


Early morning journal writings:

Graupel falls outside before the rising of the February sun – not to be confused with scrapple, a mystery meat product of the breakfast variety which has yet to unhinge itself from the East Coast diners of my youth and catapult itself out west as common fare. Graupel, by the way, is not in my paperback Webster’s, though I’m pretty sure I’m using the term correctly – my internet is down, so my googling powers to cross reference it have been thwarted.

Funny, I’ve had the house to myself now for 9 days, which is about 5 days longer than I’ve experienced in the last 7-8 years, and it’s only right now, in the wake of my MIA internet service, that I feel alone in the world.


For all the varied ways I dance wide – literally and figuratively – I have little need to do so in my personal home space. When left to my own sole company, I reckon an outsider could enter my dwelling place at any given time and wonder when last it was that someone actively resided here.


Sometimes, I wish I were the kind of gal who opted to have a beer with a friend once in a while in an old dive bar, with old-timers perched nearby on the same bar stools they’ve grown accustomed to frequenting since LBJ was in office.



This early Sunday morning, I find myself sitting cross-legged on my husband’s vacated side of the bed, with the window cracked open beside me, his SolarTouch Plus blazing full tilt, a makeshift writing table propped up over my lap, and a cup of tea nested somewhat precariously amid the blankets.

I can hear the drip dripping of loose water outside, and I’m unsure as to whether it’s rain or melting runoff from the roof. Curls of winter’s soft breath drift in through the window in delightful accord, accompanied by the distant cries of a freight train passing through.

A few minutes ago, a car pumping loud with bass-heavy pulsing drove by on Johnson Street, and I was left to wonder if the driver was utilizing such exuberant tuneage at this early hour to rally themselves for the start of their day, or to keep themselves awake on the drive home from a night out on the town.


Some joys are on par with great swells of elation, like encountering the first mighty view of Mount Denali, when you’re lucky enough to bear witness to when it shakes itself loose of its thick wall of clouds, which serve routinely as its self-appointed bodyguards.

Some joys are more akin to creature comforts, like diving frigid feet into thick-padded socks, sipping slowly on a warm mug of tea on a shaken snowglobe day, and opening one’s ears (and eyes and heart) to the tune of whipping wind, from the safety of one’s bed at 6am.

And still, some joys are rather mysterious and sneaky, like the euphoria that settles in when the present moment tiptoes in and whispers to you sweetly: This here – right now – it doesn’t get any better than this.


Simple joy from today:

Encountering an old-school glass Heinz ketchup bottle and turning it upside down to dispense some of its contents on my breakfast plate by tapping the raised glass embedded “57” stamp with the heel of my palm, just as the good lord of my childhood intended.

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