September & October 2017: Greetings from Lady Dunrovin
Autumn is always anticipated at Dunrovin because the horseback riding is at its very best, with the horses in top condition after a summer of work, with clear cool days, cold nights that dispel the wasps and flies and mosquitoes, and with glorious fall colors to whiz by as we canter along the trails. Yup! Autumn is the best.
No autumn has been more anticipated in the Bitterroot Valley than this one. What an end to our summer! The Lolo Peak fires had banned us from the forests, filled our lungs with heavy smoke, and covered everything with grit and ash. Finally, on September 15, the first winter storm warnings went up, snow covered the mountaintops, and the moisture and cold temperatures dampened the fires. By the end of September, the fires were officially out and everyone could breathe a big sigh of relief, along with a bit of fresh air.
For Dunrovin, the fires were not only frightening and a serious health risk for all of us, it meant a significant downturn in our business. No one wanted to be here. Visitors canceled their reservations. We were unable to take the horses out on the trails because of the smoke. Like many, many other tourism-related businesses in western Montana, the fires turned profits to smoke just as they turned our forests to ash.
We Montanans are not the only ones to have suffered personal and financial losses this season. Hurricanes across the Gulf of Mexico exacted a very heavy toll on Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas, and Florida; wild fires rage in California as I write this; and many people are still hospitalized and facing very uncertain futures from the unspeakable massacre in Las Vegas. It has been a difficult, stressful, and tragic end to summer for so many Americans. Many people have lost so much: loved ones, homes, animals, a sense of security, entire communities. I mourn and grieve for them. I cannot fathom their sorrows.
The one bright spot for me personally was that the downturn in our business gave me some unexpected time to travel with my family to Wisconsin to attend the wedding of our nephew. It was just what I needed—beautiful weather, the gathering of family from all corners of the world, and the joy of seeing a new family form. It was a clarifying moment. One that reminded me yet again of what is really important in one’s life, our families, out friends, our animals. I am grateful that I did not lose anyone in these recent tragedies. My heart breaks for those who did.
My absence, a totally ridiculous fall in Wisconsin resulting in an injured wrist, and the stress and extra work of dealing with the ranch downturn all put me behind in my writing. When I explained all this to my terrific editor, Sheryl, she suggested a combined September/October issue of this magazine. It is times like this that I feel such gratitude for this opportunity to speak with you, my reader and my friend. My Dunrovin journey—both here on the ground at Dunrovin Ranch and in cyber space with the DaysAtDunrovin community—has been such a source of comfort, pleasure, and reassurance. It makes me see the world as a beautiful and good place in spite of the many bad things that happen. We are all truly in this together, and your presence in my life gives me much hope and joy. Thank you for being here for me.
The word community has been overused in marketing and social media. The dictionary defines community as a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. Note that the traditional meaning of community includes a shared place, culture, and history. These are what distinguishes the DaysAtDunrovin community from all other internet communities. We share a place, Dunrovin Ranch and its history and culture, a common culture of interests and curiosity about nature, animals, science, education, and the arts and one predicated by mutual respect and kindness.
Our D@D community is a subscription-based online community. Our subscription serves three very important purposes:
First, it allows us to pay the costs of operating DaysAtDunrovin without having to use our limited resources chasing advertisements as a source of revenue. We do not see our community members as consumers in the online world, but as friends who have come together to celebrate animals, nature, and learning. We strive to create an online community free from constant, invasive pushes to purchase. Information about and links to our partner organizations appear without charge on our public D@D pages. We are proud to be associated with these entities and hope you will support them. They share our values and will serve you well.
Second, our subscription creates a "gated community" where people with common interests and values can freely communicate without fear of disrespect. Requiring a D@D membership to participate in the open chat and posting forums ensures protection from internet trolls and bullies. Open and respectful communication opens hearts and forms the basis for friendships. Our website must be safe and secure in order for meaningful conversations and friendships to thrive. Furthermore, this is very personal for me. I live at Dunrovin and I am inviting you into my home. I need to know that you, too, are a real person with honest and good intentions.
Third, we would love to raise money to give back in meaningful ways and support nonprofit causes which speak to the values we all hold. As a community, we can collectively be a force for good.
If you want to join the D@D community and cannot afford the $8/month subscription fee, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to set up a scholarship. Willingness to divulge who you are and abiding by our conversation standards of respect are more important to us than payment. Ability to pay should not be a barrier to community membership.
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Thank you for your time and attention. Welcome to Dunrovin. I'd love to hear from you.