Voices from the river

Calm advice

Monday

At 3 p.m., my iPad dings with a message from the Calm app.

“Your inner peace is a gift that keeps on giving,” says the app.

It’s tailor made for this audience of one, downloaded in the early days of the pandemic, back when we were all trying to figure out how to be a daycare worker, school teacher, housekeeper, cook and full time professional.

When I got up at 5 this morning — because to do all the things, one has to get up extraordinarily early — I wondered how long a person really could do all the things and not lose the will to get out of bed in the morning.

Tuesday

Around 10:30 a.m., the President signs the Great American Outdoors Act.

This is one of the biggest pieces of conservation legislation in decades. The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and dedicates much-needed dollars to address the ballooning maintenance backlog on public lands.

This is a tangible positive investment in the things we need most right now.

On the highway, the campers are already starting to stream in as they jockey for spots on the national forest. I can see the boundary from where I sit at my computer.

I look at my watch. 2:59 p.m.

Somewhere in the house, I hear the iPad ding.

Wednesday

3 p.m.

“Ten minutes to yourself will produce energy to propel you through the day.”

As our summers draw to an end, the inevitability of “What do we do about school?” has a lot of parents up nights. Even more than they already were. The ghoulish dark circle-rimmed faces you see at work or on your zoom calls probably aren’t a result of some great party they went to over the weekend. 

We’re all wondering what the heck we’re going to do. And what those choices will mean. And how our communities will accept those choices. Or how they will not. And how our children will understand those choices. Or how they will not. 

And on. And on. And on.

Thursday

Ding.

“Life is about starting over, one breath at a time.”

The pressure of parenting in the modern day prior to COVID was pretty overwhelming. Add in a global pandemic and it’s other-worldly. While the rest of the world is learning how to finger knit (or the privileged part of the world anyway — let’s not get into the great chasm on inequity this pandemic has exposed) parents are burning it at both ends asking themselves at the end of every day, “How the heck am I going to pull this off again tomorrow?”

To some degree, we have seen the answer to that, at least in the angling world. Families are flocking to rivers and streams and campgrounds like never before. Trailheads are filled with vehicles and take-outs are packed with trailers.

Outside my window, the last little bit of snow on the mountain glints a bit as the sun hits it.

Friday

The little mare climbs the last set of switchbacks, breathing hard in the warm air. She’s out of shape, put to pasture as other more pressing priorities have outranked her.

As we climb I feel the atmosphere relent and pressure subside. The problems of the week are poured behind us, tumbling down the switchbacks as gravity takes a swing at them, beating them into submission before descending.

The Calm app is set to go off soon.

No one will be there to hear the ding.

Shauna Stephenson is TU’s national communications director. She lives and works near Ennis, Mont.