Stress of Summer

By Kellyn Brown

For those of us who call the Flathead home year-round, it’s easy to be selfish in the summer. Every day off is already accounted for. There are rivers to float, mountains to hike and festivals to attend. The season speeds by and when obligations arise, they tend to rain on our precious sunny days.

How many weddings have you committed to this summer?

Weddings are great, especially in Montana, and often include wild outdoor receptions. Some of my closest friends are eloping in the next few weeks and I’ll be there to hardily celebrate. But I’ve also told them they should have exchanged vows indoors in the fall instead of monopolizing my summer day – only half-joking.

How many visitors are you hosting this summer?

If you live here, your long-lost college roommates will find out and reason that a trip to Northwest Montana during the hot months is at once desirable and economical, especially if they crash at your place. So that weekend you had planned exploring that remote corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness is out and replaced by a less-exciting weekend playing tour guide. What should be enjoyable, showing off the Going-to-the-Sun Road to a visitor, instead can feel like a chore.

Expectations are high in the summer and only intensify when your friends are constantly posting photographs online of the giant fish they are catching and cliffs they are scaling. It can turn into a competition of how much fun you can possibly cram into one day without keeling over.

Then June ends and July begins winding down and you haven’t checked off any of the items on your summer to-do list and you ask everyone you see, “Can you believe it’s almost August?” The days begin getting shorter and the commitments more frustrating.

For example, the Montana Newspaper Association holds its annual convention in the summer. Even Missoula Mayor John Engen, who spoke at this year’s event, made fun of us. And we deserved it. I’m certain there are conference rooms available in March.

Don’t Montanans deserve to have their precious summer weekends free? After all, we suffer through the shoulder seasons when most of the tourists are away and clouds can hover for weeks. We wait it out and then start cramming again.

There’s never enough time and it’s exhausting to stretch it. Work hours are often longer in the summer since we are covering for our coworkers who are taking their annual vacations. And since it stays light until 10 p.m., it seems logical to go to bed at 1 a.m.

August is nearing. And we’re fighting traffic – yes that’s relative – and happily sharing our wide-open spaces with visitors as long as they don’t interfere with our plans. But it’s hard to be patient when the line at the grocery store is five people deep and all you wanted to buy was a lousy watermelon.

It’s July and national retailers have already begun advertising back-to-school sales, the earliest many industry experts can remember and a mere weeks after most kids attended their last class. The short season feels even shorter.

There is nothing quite comparable to summer in the Flathead, but it is too often accompanied by a sinking feeling you aren’t making the most of it. It’s easy to be selfish and forget there will be another one next year, and the year after that.

Everyone’s busy and it’s hard to keep up with them. Perhaps it’s best not to try. The shoulder season is just around the corner, and life will slow down again as we all begin hunkering down for winter. But there’s a lot to do between now and then.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.