Seasonal People

In May, it’s quiet at Schweitzer. Seriously quiet. The daily noises of the rental shop below my office are silent now and there isn’t the constant white noise of the lifts to lull me into my winter comfort zone. The typical laughter and shouting in the village is missing from my day to day routine, so I find myself careening from office to office in the Mill Building, trying to satisfy my need for human interaction. It can be hard being a social butterfly when there are only about 15 people in close proximity to bother and they seem to have gotten good at hiding.

During the peak of our winter season, Schweitzer is home to another 585 people that become part of my immediate family for 5 months. Then, in one fail swoop, about 475 of those souls pack up their trucks or Subarus and head off on their next seasonal adventure. I listen with a touch of jealousy as they talk about their plans for traveling the country, working in Alaska, or a South American ski adventure. They have this fire in their eyes as they talk about this next adrenaline rush and I have to admit, I wish I could go to. 

There’s a bittersweet sadness as the season ends and I feel this quasi break-up most deeply as I stare out the window and watch the snow melt on Midway. It’s hard to let these fantastic people go. Sure, there’s talk of coming back next winter and picking up right where we all left off but the truth is, seasonal work inspires some of us to become professional seasonal people – finding that next amazing spot to explore, that next radical place to conquer, and a job to support those addictions.

What I am so thankful for is that Schweitzer gets lucky a lot of the time and these wonderful souls find out that even though there may be bigger mountains to ride or deeper oceans to sail, there’s no place that offers our seasonal people a home quite like we do. We are family in the most non-traditional sense, putting “the fun in dysfunctional.” And it works. There’s a real connection we share to this place and to each other. Who knew that anyone of us from the youngest liftie to an old mother hen working in marketing, would feel so attached to each other? My Schweitzer friends and family run the gamut of ages from 18 to 65 and you’d never guess which of them has the craziest plan lined up next. 

The quiet makes me miss this ad-hoc family and the life they bring to Schweitzer every winter. I take comfort in that some of them will stick around for our summer season and be here to share in the fantastic pandemonium of 7B Sunday, Northwest Wine Fest, the Huckleberry Color Run, and our infamous Fall Fest. For those that will travel further afield, I have my fingers crossed that they find their way home again.

This article first appeared in the May issue of Neighbors, a supplement to the Bonner County Daily Bee.