Down to Business

| February 26, 2020 2:00 AM

Everyone has a daily routine. Mine, as I am sure many do, starts with coffee, breakfast — when time allows — and off to work. As I drive north on Montana 35, I think of the day ahead, the things unfinished from yesterday and the projects looming in the future.

It’s not until I turn onto Bridge Street that I stop. As I slow to check for oncoming traffic on our single-lane bridge, I look west to Bigfork Bay, flowing into Flathead Lake. As I drive across, the historic, brick powerhouse looms over the meandering Swan River, where it has stood for over 100 years. It is at this moment each morning that I am flooded with appreciation for where I live.

I continue onto Osborn Avenue, glancing at the sliver of downtown I can see before stopping at Fieldhead’s Coffee. As I walk in, I’m greeted with smells of freshly roasted coffee. I am a creature of habit; I have my routine. I leave, trying to recall all the things that need to be done that I remembered so clearly minutes ago. As I turn onto Electric Avenue, I see the local businesses preparing to open their doors for the day. Frequently I pull over to say good morning to MonaRae, who, in her work for the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork, is ensuring our village is ready to greet all who visit.

I drive past the historic Bigfork Inn and the school, appreciating the dedication of the staff and the education they provide.

I turn right onto the highway and mentally stop again.

To the north looms the majestic Jewel Basin Hiking Area, peaks covered with snow glistening under the sun. Below is Echo Lake and the North Shore Nordic Trails. I have pulled over countless times to try to capture the majesty of the Swan Mountains framed ahead by trees, the highway seemingly disappearing toward their base. I wonder why my phone is unable to take a photo as beautiful and striking as what my eyes are seeing.

As I settle in at the chamber office, I once again recognize how lucky I am. Much of my days are spent sharing Bigfork with visitors, those planning a vacation, looking to relocate or those who have just moved here. Much of my conversation goes something like this:

“Have you been to Grateful Bread? They received national recognition for their huckleberry pie!”

“I think the best sunset is from Wayfarers.”

“Yes, we have a medical clinic and a dental office — and even an acupuncturist!”

“This weekend there is ...”

You get the idea — Bigfork is an easy town to promote.

After the day comes to a close, I get into my car and start planning for tomorrow. Members I want to call, events to work on, pages I would like to add to and then, I see the lake. I hope the stoplight turns red so I can stare across its calm, cold waters.

Before me is Flathead Lake Brewing Company, which may well have the best view, although it’s a close call between Riley’s in Woods Bay, and of course, the Raven.

Arriving home, and back to the routine, I plan dinner. It might consist of goodies from Max’s Market, or a family meal at Old Bridge Pub or Rosa’s Pizza — delivery!

The real question now is, what am I going to do this weekend? How I am going to experience Bigfork in a meaningful way? A way that will create memories, allow me to take advantage of where I live and give me something to share with the next person who asks about Bigfork?

This weekend, I settle on the North Shore, which truly has the best view of Flathead Lake. I never tire of the massive tree stumps or the stretches of sand.

We live in an area teeming with history, beauty, and recreation all around us. Recognizing that, finding it in our daily routines and appreciating it is so important. It cements the pride and connection to our community. Again, I must stop and acknowledge that I feel pretty lucky that doing so is a part of my job. ■


A quiet day at Flathead Lake at Wayfarer's State Park on Thursday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)