By MICK HOLIEN
When you live in what could be accurately described as a tourist town or a destination for some, there are certain rites of either spring or winter whatever your fancy.
I initially noticed it here in Polson four or five days ago on a Friday afternoon but it can also be signaled by the gridiron while college teams hold practices to be culminated by the annual scrimmage or in the case of the pros they are in the middle of OTA (organized team activities), a “volunteer” scenario where signed players vie for playing time by their performance.
I’m told about 95 percent of NFL players participate and in the case of the Grizzlies Butte’s historic Eso Naranche Stadium is the host for this year’s fall practice sessions.
But Polson Hill, for me coming from the south opening up with that almost indescribable view of Flathead Lake shadowed by the Mission Mountains, is my barometer.
And that Friday there wasn’t yet a row of aquatic vessels making their way to town from points unknown but folks the motor homes have already begun to arrive.
While the two lanes descending down the hill weren’t yet filled up to the Ridgewater exit, there was traffic well up the hill.
And once you got through the 93-35 intersection, it was already a cluster meaning if one was trying to turn across traffic you can plan to sit a while looking for an opening.
Of course there are additional signs that “they’re here!”
Iconic Richwines has been open for several weeks, enabling them to benefit from early employment applicants, and to smooth any rough edges before the crowd substantially increases.
A few folks who close for a time each winter have mostly moved the sign in the window to “open” and new businesses hustle with a good six weeks (Memorial Day) before the true onslaught of customers is upon them.
I journeyed to Bigfork this week thinking the town would still be fairly quiet, which it turned out it was, only to find both sides of Electric Avenue filled with vehicles which came to discover was because youngsters are in full stead rehearsing for a weekend performance at the Playhouse.
But I went there to use a gift certificate I had for Showthyme which I discovered opened that day after a two-month respite.
A wonderful meal – I had never been there – and even better conversations with owners who have occupied the former bank building as a top-end restaurant for 29 years.
Indeed there might be that usual spring snowstorm but while we still have a little time, it won’t be long.