Oh Montana seasons, how you mystify my easy-going laid back Southern California nature. Not only does winter have its issues with bitter cold, snow and the fun of sliding back and forth on icy roads (which actually is quite a thrill), but I have recently realized that fall, spring and summer all have their own challenges. Let’s begin with fall, our current and most confusing season. One day it feels like fall, with temperatures hitting a sunny, yet brisk 55 degrees, which is really only “warm” by Montana standards. And the next day, we’re in the heart of winter with bone-chilling highs of 26 degrees. These fluctuations make dressing quite a time-consuming endeavor. Unlike the tough, hearty Montanans I see walking around in shorts and a t-shirt when temperatures are in the 30’s, I am admittedly weak and cold. In SoCal, getting dressed was not a stressful occasion for the weather never dropped below 55 degrees—jeans, t-shirt, a jacket and I was out the door. I never made wool socks my daily sock choice, nor did I ever have to navigate 4-5 layers and then shwitz to death once I entered a heated room. Here in Montana, I try to convince myself that it’s warm and take advantage of those 50 degrees days, but then, once five o’clock hits, the temperature drops and I’m frigid, complaining and layering again. Finally, I’m dressed and out the door and crunching on thousands of leaves that have fallen and are covering my walkway and yard. What do I do with these leaves? Do I rake them or keep crunching them? If I do rake them, then what? My trash can pathway is restricted due to the snow storm we had last week. I never had to deal with fallen leaves because in Santa Monica, palm trees kept their leaves year round. I think Evergreens are the way to go, but then you have to deal with the pinecones. I think I’ll just leave the leaves. So winter is just a few storms away. As much as I enjoy the snow at times, it’s not as easy as a summer’s day. The snow begins to fall all night and day and my car, not a hearty snow vehicle by any means, continues to get ever more covered by the minute. I anticipate and dread having to dig it out, so I just watch from my window, hoping the snow will miraculously stop. The snowplows have yet to plow the street and I wait until I truly have to leave the house to shovel the car out. Then the snowplow comes and plows the street, all the while pushing heaps of snow against my car and leaving a mountain wall of icy snow embracing my vehicle. Do I really need to leave the house today? Nah. But, Montanans don’t believe in snow days and I want to man-up and be a true Montanan. I have about two hours to spare, so I gear up and begin shoveling. About five minutes later, two vigilante snow-shoveling pros pull up and see my frustration. They each light a cigarette, pull out a shovel from their trunk and within 10 minutes, I am able to get my car out of the snow’s embrace. I thank the men and they put out their cigarettes and drive off. “See you next snow storm,” I shout and wave, thinking these are true Montanans. So winter slowly comes to an end around….June, so we can just skip spring altogether. If Mother Nature thought spring was not that important in Montana, then so do I. However, I will give it some credit, there are a few warm days; you start seeing a bit of green emerging and you also begin to stress about getting your garden prepped and planted. Summer time, my favorite season of all—hot days, warmish long nights, rodeo fever, weekend hikes and fresh produce. The only nuance that comes with summer is that it only lasts about three months and then we begin the seasonal cycle all over again. Just when you get used to easily leaving the house in a tank and shorts, fall comes creeping up and wool slowly starts to re-enter your closet. Just when your broccoli and tomatoes start to produce, the forecaster predicts a frost and the fate of your garden begins to loom. The days get shorter, camping gets colder and you try to hold on to those last few summer days by wearing wool socks and shorts or a tank with a down jacket. Finally, when the heating bill starts to fluctuate and the re-stocking of wood for the wood-burning stove commences, you then plan a vacation to the tropics and say adios to winter for a few weeks, if only you hadn’t stored away all your summer clothes already.