An Ode to My Commute

On ways to spend time doing nothing.

view of mountains from a porch

“I will send you the link as soon as I boot up,”
I email on my phone,
then hurry

to get the bed made and carry the laptop
to the sun porch
where I can see the draws
on the ridge beyond the valley
still outlined in white by snow.

I remember
the long march of suits to the subway, the laptop
heavy in its vinyl case.

New York subway train entering station

The platform black with a century of grime, the lights
dim yet harsh in the early morning as the train
rumbled in.

Standing shoulder to shoulder as it lurched.

The lockstep tramp up
stairs, the hike across the lobby through that
ant-like swarm – how did we never collide? – toward
the coffee
stand.
Careful not to spill as I hurry
not to miss the 8:10.

Gazing at the ranks of buildings as the train
(or they)
sped by.

Commuters walking next to a train

The hike to the old beater in that parking lot

and then
that brief journey through a tunnel
of trees.

That other parking lot.

Returning later, tired.
Still that heavy laptop.
Watching the train loom large toward me on the open-air track
Careful not to trip.
Wondering what would happen if I did.

Commuter train pulling into a station

Then sit. Breathe.

Read, maybe, or just be
weary.
Relax an hour before

that subway crush again. That twice as long trudge homeward.

Dinner.

Bed.

Being more productive starts with finding time to do nothing
professed the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

I work all day, I tell myself. Do I ever have time do nothing?

Willows beside a riverwalk

I ask again later as I stroll
with the dog
along the river,

the ducks
taking issue with our presence,

the buds
waiting to burst from the willows.

Yes.


© Lois Wingerson, 2021

Thanks for reading!

You can see every new entry of Living Dubois by email if you sign up at the top of the right column at www.livingdubois.com.

Who’s writing? Check outAbout Me.


Remarkable Rural Retreats: Small Town, Big Plan

A unique and extraordinary option for remote-work teams

I kept glancing away from my lunch companion, avoiding her gaze. I felt things had started badly.

During our visit that morning in March, Lazy L&B Ranch had been deserted and silent. Sheets covered chairs. Mattresses leaned against walls.

It felt impossible to convey to Jennifer Pryor the life-changing sense of liberation I experienced in this cabin at that ranch many years ago, back when there was no such word as “workation,” let alone a concept or a hashtag. I was working on a book manuscript. My kids were riding horses. Seeing the vast open spaces breathed life into my work.

It will surely be the same for the many guests who fill Lazy L&B later this year, like all those who have posted 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor ever since we visited long ago. I just couldn’t bring them alive to her on this wintry day.

Jen Pryor’s visit was intended as the springboard to launch a new campaign by Wind River Remote Works: to promote Dubois as a unique and extraordinary location where companies that employ remote workers can host their team retreats. The owner of Gather Events Company, she will book those retreats.

On this day in late winter, I had the impression that to her and to anyone just passing through, it must seem that this charming village surrounded by wilderness was dying. How unfortunate, and how untrue.

She must have noticed the For Sale signs on several motels. I explained that these aren’t pandemic casualties — the owner of one is retiring, and another relocating for family reasons. But even to me, these sounded like excuses.

Just as we can’t see the buds of wildflowers yet to explode into bloom, no casual visitor can see what Jennifer eventually discovered: Dubois is burgeoning with change. Ripe to reopen.

After lunch, we launched into a busy itinerary. At 3 Spear Ranch, just at the edge of town, Creed Garnick proudly showed us how layers of sheet rock have been cleared away in the main lodge to reveal the ancient logs beneath. The team had just been installing heated flooring beneath a claw-footed bathtub in the latest cabin to be upgraded.

After a few years of soft opening, the ranch is primed to welcome outside groups to an upscale establishment that offers elegant but rustic meeting rooms, as well as so much to do after work, from wilderness hikes to horseback rides to evening dips in a hot spring.

The next morning, Jen stopped by the legendary CM Ranch, which opened more than a century ago and has been offering respite and recreation to many generations of families — just not (yet) to company retreats. (That’s Jen at left, with manager Mollie Sullivan in front of one of the cabins.)

As a resident of nearby Lander, Jen has passed through Dubois often, and stopped for lunch or to let her children use the playground in the park. “I never had any idea how much there was here that you can’t see from the highway,” she told me. We were visiting the gallery of Western art hidden away in an upper floor of the conference facility, the Headwaters Center. She said it would be a great spot for intimate meetings.

Afterwards, we met in the Headwaters lobby with Robert Betts and his sister Lindsey Judd. Robert runs the Cutthroat Fly Shop, which is located in a historic building at the main intersection of town. Lindsey and her husband manage the Absaroka Ranch, which has hosted retreats for nonprofit organizations for many years.

They seemed glad for the chance to see each other, and spoke about collaborating more. Meanwhile, we learned that Robert plans to expand the fly shop this summer, to offer much more gear and to rebrand the business as “booking central,” a one-stop shop where visitors can reserve outdoor adventures such as guided wilderness hikes and float trips.

Next I took Jen to an unmarked building near the west edge of town, which is Never Sweat Lodge. If you hadn’t found it online, you’d never know that behind that red door is a space beautifully fitted out for snowmobile and wedding groups, with lodgepole pine beds, a large kitchen with a huge board table, a bar, a pool table, and 6 bedrooms (with much more lodging available right next door at the Super 8 motel). Owner Logan Vaughan is eager to add remote-work teams to his customer base.

The fortress-like edifice rising next to the Post Office is also not what it appears from the street. Family Dollar is not expanding; Nana’s Bowling Alley and Bakery has been rising behind it. Who knows? Bowling might also have some appeal as a team-building activity.

Personally, I would prefer hiking in the wilderness, as regular readers know. But then, Dubois stands ready to appeal to all sorts of people with many different preferences.

Maybe not surfing, I remarked to Creed Garnick, as he showed us where the swimming hole will fill up at 3 Spear Ranch later this spring, after he drops the dam wall in front of the stream.

“I don’t know,” he replied with a smile. “We’ll look into it.”

© Lois Wingerson, 2021

Thanks for reading! You can see every new entry of Living Dubois by email if you sign up at the top of the right column at www.livingdubois.com.