Elephant Ears


Everybody’s summer ends with some singular event. Ours happens to come in the form of elephant ears.

For the last seven years, our oldest daughter has been a member of the Bitterroot Swim Team. Since then, her brother and sister have joined her in the pool and found a talent in competitive swimming across the state of Montana.

The only team fundraiser of the year is a booth at the Ravalli County Fair where swimmers and parents have an envious assembly line producing fluffy, yet crispy scones – fried bread smothered in butter, honey or cinnamon and sugar. It’s a favorite mid-way fare for our friends and neighbors and it’s a busy way to end our summer. The proceeds are used to pay our coaches and rent the swimming pool.

The Ravalli County Fair is always held over Labor Day weekend. Since joining the swim team, our family has also been involved in the booth in some capacity – either cleaning before the fair, cleaning the booth after a week of fast and furious dough stretching and bread frying, or being a part of the mad cooking while lines of patient customers wait their turn for a treat.

The science of thawing the dough, rising the dough, stretching the dough and cooking the dough is a carefully managed system of timing and ingenuity. The method is passed down from one family to the next and we all become closer friends as we work side by side.

This summer was worth celebrating as the Bitterroot Swim Team brought home its third state championship in a row. The kids are excelling and enjoying the experience. I’ll never forget the surprise of watching my 6-year-old figure out his strokes and eventually qualify for state in every event. I’ll always be grateful for the older kids who have set an amazing example of character for our young swimmers to look up to. We cheered each other on as times were shaved and swimmers achieved personal records as well as state records.

We’re grateful to raise our kids in the Bitterroot Valley with such wonderful families and friends. We’re grateful for swim coaches who give of their time and the Bitterroot Aquatic Center where they practice. And we’re grateful for the opportunity to work a booth at the Ravalli County Fair each year so that the organization can continue to support our kids in their pursuits and talents.

We hope to see you all at the fair this week with sticky hands and big smiles enjoying an elephant ear and celebrating our swimmers’ success.