But that's summer in the valley. After all the summers that I have spent working long, long days with little time to myself, I was overwhelmed by how incredibly thankful I was to be able to do what makes me so happy, on my own terms. The Murie Center is a dream client for me - embracing all that I feel is important and right in the world, while giving me the chance to do what I do best in the most beautiful setting imaginable.
As I moved tables, folded linens, polished glassware, lit candles and spent close to 16 hours on my feet in the heat of the mountain sun, all I could do was smile. From the Historic Murie Ranch, the Grand Teton reaches for the sky, just visible through the trees and over the old homestead building. The ranch still embodies the spirit of an earlier time, when the Murie's lived humbly and worked towards an end where conservation efforts would be respected and understood for the basic necessity to all life that they are.
I never met Mardy Murie, who died at the age of 101 in 2003, two years after I moved to the valley. But I do remember going to the Hootenanny and asking a stranger "who is that amazing woman sitting up front?". It was Mardy, eyes closed and feet tapping in time to the music, an inspiring sight for me then, even without knowing her history. I am honored to work in her presence, which is so apparent at the Ranch; to help create experiences for locals and visitors alike that will stay with them, reminding them of how important it is to have such beautiful places in the world.
And I am honored to have shared this with my family, who have been the most solid support over the years, even in the hardest of times. The women in my family inspire me, keeping me going when it all seems like an uphill battle.
Just a few days after my parents said goodbye to me and my husband and drove away over Togwotee Pass, headed home to northern Minnesota, my mother called to tell me that her mother had died. She was 87 years old and the news was not a surprise, but still I cried. I had just visited her in early May, not even two months ago, and had been struck by the dignity and grace with which she was reaching the end of her life. My grandmother never visited me in Wyoming, even for my wedding, worrying that the travel and high elevation would not agree with her. She chose not to come not because she was concerned for herself, but because she did not want to burden me or create anything other than happy memories for everyone else who had traveled so far to celebrate with us.
So now as I mourn this amazing woman, and I soak in the mountain sunshine on the beautiful late June afternoon, I know that I am the luckiest person alive. I have been touched by greatness in so many ways, and look forward to a future where I can share this with anyone who is willing.