Of Scissors and Sisters: Beyond Shopping

Scissors2Back in New York City, if I needed something, I would find the store that sold it, take the subway there, buy it and take it right home.

Here in Dubois, I often need to be more patient. But when I finally come by the item, it may arrive with much more meaning.

The big scissors came from Sandy, who used to sell jams and jellies as a vendor at the weekly farmers’ market. She was wiry, gruff, and plain-spoken, and she had a ready laugh. When I think of her, I think of courage and good cheer.

One week Sandy asked me if I needed anything. We all knew that Sandy was dying of cancer, and she knew it too. She was downsizing, divesting herself of many things. No point in holding a yard sale: She didn’t have anyone to inherit the cash.

I was making curtains for our house at the time, and my good sewing kit was still back in New York City. The next week Sandy turned up at the farmers’ market with these fine, substantial sewing shears. Every time I cut fabric, of course, Sandy comes to mind and I work with a smile.

A few weeks ago, I needed to replace a zipper. I did have small scissors, but the points weren’t sharp enough to pull Scissors1thread from a zipper seam. So I called my neighbor Anna, who lent me her own neat little sharp-nosed snips.

Soon after, I ran into Anna at the photography show. “Thought I might see you here,” she said, reached into her bag, and pulled out the small pair of scissors in my picture above. (See how neatly they fold up and collapse so the points can stay needle-sharp in the sewing kit?)

“What do I owe you?” I asked.

“Oh, nothing,” she said. “I found them today in the Op Shop and thought of you. They’re a gift.”

Each time I see them I think of her thoughtfulness. A truly small item has gained extra importance, and the thought will probably smooth those pesky little sewing jobs from now on.

Well worth the wait.

Want to read more about living in Dubois WY? You can read weekly updates via email using the link at the top of the right column.

© Lois Wingerson 2015

More to Love in Dubois: The Farmers Market

Another charitable venture, the farmers market offers nothing but the best from midsummer, and usually draws a crowd …

Granted, the high mountain desert of the upper Wind River Valley is not the most fertile ecosystem on the planet. We are fairly well supplied with produce FarmersMarket2_080615by the supermarket, and some residents keep their own greenhouses. But when the weekly Farmers Market opens at 5 PM Thursday a long line builds quickly at the checkout.

Volunteers manage the farmers market. The office manager of St. Thomas’ church drives to Jackson and back early Thursday morning, bringing back farm-fresh delights from as far away as Utah and Oregon. Later in the season she drives the same distance in the other direction to Riverton, after the local growing season kicks in there.

A small, jam-packed and well-tended garden beside the church provides fresh greens and some vegetables, picked on the spot for farmers market customers. Look at the crazy carrot someone pulled last week!Carrot

Below you see my haul from last Thursday’s market — or part of it, anyway. We’ve enjoyed several peaches and quite a few greens over the weekend.

The farmers market is another mission of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. As usual in Dubois, the proceeds from our pleasures go to charity. In this case, cash profits go to the local food bank. Most unsold produce goes to the food bank or the senior center.FarmersMarketHaulWant to read more about living in Dubois WY? You can read weekly updates via email using the link at the top of the right column.

© Lois Wingerson 2015

Be There or Be Square Dance Night

It’s the place to be on Tuesday summer evenings, even for local adolescents. Good clean chaotic fun. Experience not required!

SquareDanceGals You just gotta love it: This is the place to be for many adolescents on summer Tuesdays in Dubois, at the square dance in the back room at the Rustic Pine Tavern. At the start, just after 8 PM, the girls often hang together separate from the guys, as you can see here.SquareDanceGuys

But square dancing is all about partners, and sooner or later they begin to mingle. It’s wonderful to behold how expert these young dancers are who have come every week, perhaps for almost as long as they remember.

From my vantage point behind the soft-drink bar, it’s great fun to watch the teens laughing, bragging, whispering secrets.

Meanwhile the caller, who has been doing this for decades, tries to lure the more timid tourists who hang on the sidelines: “We need another couple here! Don’t worry! Nobody else knows how to do it either!” (Not quite true…)

SquareDance1As the minutes pass, visitors from guest ranches begin to “get” the moves.  This is silly stuff, actually, but great exercise and entirely wholesome fun. Some of the most enthusiastic participants are the young children.SquareDance3SquareDance5

Every once in a while, of course, order deteriorates into a certain degree of mayhem, as here. The natural reaction is to laugh.SquareDance6

The Episcopal Womens Guild of St. Thomas Church has been sponsoring the square dances for many decades in Dubois. Like almost all entertainment here, the proceeds go to a charitable cause. SquareDance7

Want to read more about living in Dubois WY? You can read weekly updates via email using the link at the top of the right column.

© Lois Wingerson 2015

Dubois Rising

demolition_with_boysAt left, two young lads watched with interest as the last building damaged in the devastating December 30 fire comes down. I asked their names at the time, but unfortunately forgot them before I sat down to write this.

Dubois fire
Downtown Dubois on 12/31/14. Photo credit: Alan Rogers/Casper Star-Tribune

The fire, widely reported in the national media, destroyed a half block of historic buildings on the main street. (You can see some more dramatic pictures at Dubois fire.)

The fire was caused by overheating of wooden walls too close to a chimney. Subzero temperatures caused the water lines in the fire hoses to freeze up as volunteer firefighters battled the flames in the wee hours.

Community response was, predictably, immediate and robust, reflecting the strong feelings that residents, former residents, and longtime repeat visitors have for the Dubois community.

A crowd-sourced relief fund raised nearly $12,000 for affected business owners over six months. Another fund coordinated by the local charity Needs of Dubois and St. Thomas Episcopal Church raised about $88,000.

Contributions at the annual Swedish Smorgasbord event in June and other sources raised money for a new fire engine with hoses that will not freeze overnight in Dubois’ high-mountain winter temperatures.

DuboisRisingThe theme of the Independence Day parade was “Dubois Rising” (see the float with that motto in the image at right). Nobody needed to be told what that was about.

Meanwhile, the demolition proceeded. The new empty lot offers residents a startling view, straight through from the hardware store and its parking lot to the world’s most unique bar (the Rustic Pine Tavern) — or vice versa. We’re used to seeing timber storefronts and a board sidewalk.

JeffsBareLotWhat’s going to happen here? We’re eager to find out.

“How could I not rebuild?” said the property owner Jeff Sussman in the local newspaper, not long after the fire. Now that the insurance reports are submitted, architects’ plans are under consideration.

A New York commercial real estate broker, Jeff and his wife Susan also own and manage the Diamond D ranch here. Jeff and Susan are anything but absentee landlords. You often see them in the Rustic when they’re in town, and they celebrated Jeff’s recent birthday with an open bar.

When I spotted Jeff in town not long ago, I mentioned that heart-warming statement in the Frontier, which was a beacon of hope at a devastating time for a town whose economy relies heavily on tourism and therefore on the face it presents to those passing through.

“I meant it,” he replied. “We’ve lived here for years. I wasn’t just going to take the insurance buyout. This town means a great deal to us.”

Want to read more about living in Dubois WY? You can read weekly updates via email using the link at the top of the right column.
© Lois Wingerson 2015