By Sara McWhirter (age fourteen)
By Annie Fenn // Photography by Paulette Phlipot
One of the best things about mountain living is breathing that delicious high-altitude air. Low in pressure and humidity, crisp and clean, the air up here makes for light powder in the winter and never a muggy summer day. But as a baker, those same conditions do a number on your favorite recipes. Cakes crater in the middle, cookies spread like pancakes, brownies stick to the pan, and yeast breads rise too fast, ending up tough and dry.
I’ll never forget the first time I baked in my tiny Jackson rental, elevation 6,400 feet. It was a beloved family recipe for pumpkin bread—the one I had cranked out perfectly since the age of ten. I watched in horror as it rose up out of the pan, toppled over the sides and onto the oven floor, and then collapsed. We still ate it, but it was enough to discourage me from baking at altitude entirely.
Yet I didn’t want to give up just because I moved to the mountains. So, for the love of homemade pumpkin bread, I decided to outsmart the baking-at-altitude conundrum by taking a scientific approach. I measured carefully, followed recipes exactly, and made notes in a spiral binder dedicated to my baking projects. By adjusting my favorite recipes a little at a time—cutting back on baking soda here, adding flour there––my baked goods eventually emerged from my Teton-based oven just as good as they did at sea level.
While achieving perfection at altitude took me some time, armed with a few tips (and a basic grasp of science) you, too, can bake in the mountains like a pro.
- Position oven rack as indicated in the recipe and monitor oven temperature with an oven thermometer (critical at altitude!).
- Increase oven temperature by 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit to help baked goods set before rising.
- Baking times vary widely at altitude. Check for doneness several minutes before the expected time, and keep hovering.
- Prevent overflow by filling pans less than three-quarters full.
- Grease pans liberally and dust with flour to prevent sticking or line pans with parchment. Or, invest in silicone bakeware.
- Measure flour accurately by first whisking it gently. Then use a spoon to fill the measuring cup, and level it off with a knife.
- Don’t overcream butter and sugar or overbeat egg whites; excess air will make cakes rise too high.
- Be very gentle with yeast dough. Go for a longer, cooler, slower rise and don’t let dough more than double in size. For bread with a tender crumb, 460° Bread baker Jerod Pfeffer advises, “Give it a little more time to ferment. Time builds flavor.”
Fall harvest focaccia
Makes two half-sheets (9 1/2 x 13-inch)
This rustic flatbread benefits from a slow fermentation at altitude, with three rises.
To Proof the Yeast:
2 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast (not instant!)
1/4 cup warm water
For the Dough:
2 1/4 cups water, plus 1 tablespoon (if needed)
3 tablespoons olive oil for the dough, plus more for finishing
7 1/2 cups, plus 6 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fine sea salt or table saltFlaky sea salt for finishing
- Place the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let stand until cloudy and slightly foamy (about 15 minutes).
- Stir in (by hand) 2 1/4 cups water and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- Add 2 cups of flour and a tablespoon of salt. Stir until smooth.
- Stir in remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough comes together. Add the additional tablespoon of water, if needed.
- Knead dough on a floured surface until soft and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Cut the dough in half and stretch each half to fit a rectangular half-sheet pan coated with olive oil. Cover and let rise a second time (about 30 minutes).
- Dimple the dough with your fingertips, leaving indentations that are as deep as a 1/2-inch. Cover and let rise a third time, until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).
- Preheat oven to 400º F and place the rack on the lowest level. Brush the dough with olive oil and toppings (see below).
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until surface is golden brown and crusty. Cut into squares and eat warm or at room temperature.
Heirloom Tomato, Feta, and Thyme: Place tomato slices over the surface of the dough. Crush thyme leaves between your fingers and sprinkle generously. Top with 1 cup crumbled feta and finish with flaky sea salt.
Fig and Fennel Seed: Remove the stems from 8 to 9 dried figs and cut into rounds. Place over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons fennel seeds. Finish with flaky salt.
Lemony Almond Yogurt Cake
Makes one standard loaf or 3 small loaves
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour or meal
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 scant cup sugar (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
Butter and flour (for coating pan)
1 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 350º F and place oven rack in the center position.
- Coat the pans (either a standard loaf pan or smaller pans measuring 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch) with a generous amount of butter and dust with flour.
- Place the all-purpose flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
- In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, almond and vanilla extracts, and olive oil.
- Fold dry ingredients into the wet ones until combined. Scrape the batter into loaf pan(s) with a spatula and smooth over the top.
- Bake for 50 minutes for the large loaf or 38 minutes for the smaller loaves, checking frequently. The cake is done when a skewer placed into its center comes out clean. If it’s wet, cook another 5 minutes and test again.
- Place the cake on a rack to cool.
- To make the glaze, place 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl and whisk in 3/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice or sugar, as needed, to make a pourable frosting.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides. Top with chopped pistachios (if desired).
- Cut back on the leavener. With low air pressure, cake-like baked goods have no place to go but up. Start by reducing an eighth of a teaspoon per teaspoon of baking powder, baking soda, or yeast. But always reduce baking powder and soda in equal proportions.
- Decrease sugar by one to two tablespoons per cup. Sugar becomes concentrated as it liquefies in the oven.
- Increase flour by one to two tablespoons per cup.
- Add moisture to baked goods—a few extra teaspoons of water, honey, or olive oil will keep dough from drying out. I use extracts (lemon, orange, vanilla, or almond) for a flavor boost.
- Look for recipes that include yogurt, crème frâiche, buttermilk, and sour cream to increase acid and enhance structure and crumb.
- Use a larger egg than the recipe calls for to add structure and to counteract liquid evaporation.
- Use active dry yeast—not instant or fast-acting dry yeast!
- Change recipes little by little. Start with the leavener, then the flour, the sugar, and the liquid. Go slow.
By Molly Absolon
My friend was shuttling her teenage kids between activities when she overheard a troubling conversation. They were talking about a teen they knew who posted a moving selfie on the app PHHHOTO. It showed the thirteen-year-old bringing a bottle of vodka back and forth to her lips. My friend found herself in a tricky position. Part of her wanted the girl’s parents to know. But part of her, also, did not want to betray her own children’s confidence. She opted to honor that bond, but she couldn’t help but feel unsettled.
I’d never heard of PHHHOTO before, so I asked my fifteen-year-old about the app. Of course she had it. She also had Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and countless other apps that come and go in popularity. Have you heard of Whisper? Kik? Yik Yak or Omegle? I hadn’t. Some apps seem to have lasting power, like Snapchat and Instagram. Others come and go quickly. All of them lure teens into a private world where adults are not welcome.
Peer connections have always been important to teenagers. Social scientists estimate that by early adolescence, more than 30 percent of children’s social interactions are with their peers. These friendships provide a personal support group for kids as they go through puberty and experiment with becoming adults. While none of this is new, what is new is that much of their social networking is now done online rather than face-to-face. Laura Santomauro, a therapist and the owner of JH Family Solutions, says teens are addicted to the peer connections and affirmation they get through social media.
On the plus side, social media allows teens to be creative and explore ideas and feelings that they may not be able to articulate in person. They can find people with similar interests and develop a broad network of friends that extends beyond the confines of their school. And they can tap into a hip, interconnected world ruled by teens. But on the flip side, social media allows teens to distort their images and live in a cyberworld instead of the real one. It pushes them to create personas designed to appeal to their peers, and it can expose them to hateful comments, bullying, or worse.
“Teens, particularly girls, are very attentive to what they are putting out on social media,” says Travis Gay, a therapist with Teton Behavior Therapy. “They really like the ‘likes.’ It’s like getting a pat on the back [that reinforces the teen’s image of his or herself].” But is that image real? Or is it one that is carefully constructed and manipulated to portray what is trending as cool or beautiful?
Such distortion is easy. Some apps can remove blemishes and allow you to enhance your cheekbones. You can soften edges and make your eyes look bigger. Watch any teenage girl and notice the “perfected” selfie: They hold the camera at an angle, tilt their head just so, and pout. The looks are so prescribed it can be hard to differentiate one girl from another. But the connection found in such uniformity builds a bond and makes the girls feel pretty, sexy, and “in” … if they get enough likes, that is.
Teenage boys manipulate their online images, too, but tend to post shots of themselves looking goofy or doing something athletic. They seem less prone to modifying their appearances to fit preconceived notions of what is hot. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping track of their likes and carefully planning their images in the digital world.
The problem is, “likes” aren’t a very nuanced way of gauging your impact on others. “The biggest concern I have with social media is how it affects social development,” says Santomauro. “We are designed in relation to one another. As a social mammal, I understand my behavior based on your reaction. It helps me develop an understanding of myself, my world, and how I impact others.” She explains that without being able to see the other person’s response to a post or text, teens miss an integral part of brain development because they cannot access the feedback. “In other words, I can text something that is hurtful,” she says, “but cannot see the hurt in your eyes or on your face, and I don’t have the regulatory guilt response to redirect my behavior. Therefore, I am more likely to do it again.”
Being mean also isn’t new for teenagers. And while parents tend to be more aware of the potential for online cruelty, kids brush it off unless they have been targeted themselves. Most of us have a story of some horrible experience from our teenage years when people were mean. But the difference with Internet socialization is how quickly that meanness spreads and how easy it is for people to be hateful without facing their victims or signing their names. That ease also means they might never learn that such behavior is not OK.
That’s where parents need to step in.
Gay explains that parents need to support their kids in navigating the online experience and have conversations, so their teens will come to them when problems happen. “We have the ability to demystify things and give kids some perspective,” she adds.
We also have to acknowledge the importance of social media if we want them to listen to us, and there are tricks for doing so. One is to ask them to explain the different apps they use. Let them be the experts, walking you through how an app works and showing you what they like about it. Gay recommends using specific language: “My perspective is this, what is yours?” She encourages adults to avoid being judgmental and to seek understanding by talking in the abstract. “I ask about kids’ friends,” Gay says. “Often they are much more open to talking about what their friends are doing than what they are doing.”
Ultimately, it’s about balance. “It’s important to recognize social media is a part of our kids’ lives. We have to respect that. But we also have to help them carve out time in their day when they put their devices away. As parents, we need to model this as well,” says Gay. She adds that parents should strive to find a middle ground on the subject of social media. Being at one end of the spectrum—either too strict or too permissive—tends to backfire.
What’s the deal with Snapchat?
Teens love Snapchat and use it daily. Snapchat allows them to send pictures, videos, and texts—or “Snaps”—that disappear once they are viewed.
Snapchat is spontaneous.
Snapchat’s spontaneity allows teens to be daring or silly because the message will not haunt them later on. Connecting through instant communication is the lure.
Snapchat is real time.
Snapchatters can use “Chat” to text or “Here” to video chat.
Snapchat uses filters.
You can change your appearance by applying filters to your Snaps. You can put a cat on top of your head or switch your facial features with those of someone else.
Snapchat gives you a posse.
Snapchatters have followers, rather than friends. They can send Snaps directly to a follower.
Snapchat tells a story.
You can broadcast a “story,” made through a series of photos or videos. Stories show up next to your name and are visible to your followers until they vanish 24 hours later.
Snapchat scores you.
Rather than “likes,” Snapchatters get a score. This score loosely corresponds to the number of snaps they have sent and received.
By Christina Shepherd McGuire // Photography by Ryan Dorgan
Mountain towns are so typical … at least to those familiar with the scene. People move in or grow up here, develop an ingrained fervor for anything outdoorsy, and land a seasonal job that barely pays the bills. Then, after several years of just scraping by, they either abandon the lifestyle for less-than-greener pastures or hunker down, committed to making their passions their life’s work.
I guess you could say that those who stick it out here—in a seasonal economy more fickle than the mountain weather—really want it. Or maybe they just got stuck in a rut (albeit a good rut to get stuck in). I caught up with two families that made economic success stories out of what were once just seasonal summer jobs. And while, arguably, they just can’t wait for the downtime, it’s the “go time” that feeds their souls.
A Hard Rock Life
When I first called Dana Mackenzie, owner of Mackenzie Masonry, to interview him and his two sons, Gary and Max, his tentative response was, “The boys are a bit cranky.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well—because ski season just ended, and they have to go back to work, of course,” he said.
I understood completely. The last thing Gary and Max wanted to talk about during the “letdown season” was how they bust their butts all summer for their family’s masonry company, specializing in custom decorative stonework.
I’ve known the Mackenzie family for—let’s say—twenty years, and I like to tease that when I first met Gary (thirty-three), Max (thirty), and Kelly (twenty-three), they were barely out of diapers. I spent my summer weekends at their camper enclave on Palisades Reservoir—wakeboard in hand—hoping the Mackenzies would give me a tow behind their boat. Dana would show up late to camp on Friday night. His eyes were glazed from his sixty-hour workweek, but the party didn’t start until he got there. I put them on a pedestal—this hardworking family that played equally as hard—hoping that someday my husband and I could replicate their lifestyle.
You see, entrepreneurship is in Dana’s blood. At the age of twelve, he remembers picking rocks from the fields on the “lower eighty” of his family’s 160 acres that straddled the Wyoming-Idaho line. They were a ski family from Sun Valley that migrated to the Tetons well before Grand Targhee Resort took root.
“Just about anytime there weren’t ranch chores to do, guess where you ended up? Picking up rocks,” Dana recalls. He remembers thinking (pitchfork in hand), “What if we could just turn these into money?”
A few years later, he went to work for his step-uncle, Brent Hammond, who dabbled in masonry. Brent started out laying cinder blocks on the ends of potato shelters and then branched out into rock art, teaching himself how to build stone fireplaces. One summer, when Dana’s hours were cut to part time after he asked for a raise, he decided to branch out on his own. He bought himself a turquoise pickup truck, a wheelbarrow, and a trowel—determined to make it in rock art.
So, with stovepipes around their legs (to fend off potential snakebites), Dana and his wife, Deb, collected rocks near Hell’s Half Acre for his first real job in Jackson. And, in 1983, he hooked up with a partner to run a successful business for twenty-five years. “That was officially the end of my ski bumming,’’ says Dana. “I had two kids and a beautiful wife. … It didn’t matter if it snowed three feet anymore. I had entered the real world at a time when Jackson was going bonkers.”
Today, Mackenzie Masonry has three bosses (Dana and his two sons) and a revolving door of employees that they hold to high standards—standards they were all taught as kids. The three men go back and forth explaining the ethic and pride they aim to instill in those who work for them. “There’s a certain way that [artistic rockwork] needs to be done,” says Gary. “It’s the difference between having a Sara Lee box cake and going to a real baker.”
Gary and Max both agree that working in the family business has taught them a level of forward-thinking and problem solving that cannot be learned in the classroom. “This is our college education,” says Gary. To that Max adds, “Some people may call it old-school [to work in a family business] and some may call [it] rare,” but what they have is special because they can provide an art form that many others don’t have the talent or know-how to do.
It’s apparent that the struggles of running a dynamic jobsite every day take a toll on these men. Still, the family unit is unwavering and proud. “I have drug these guys through the college of masonry,” explains Dana. “What it has brought to them and my family is confidence and a compassion for fellow humans that can’t be taught, only experienced. When I look at them now as young men, I personally couldn’t be prouder.”
Deb admits that all three of the men take so much pride in their work that their daily pressure is amplified. Still—as I learned when I first met them—it’s the collective head on this family’s shoulder that knows when to let its hair down. “Max and I get up at 5:30 a.m.,” says Gary. “We make coffee, pack lunch, sometimes spend two to three hours commuting on top of an eight-hour work day. All you really want to do when you get home is relax, but you almost always have to just take a run or walk to shut it off.”
To find balance, the boys save enough money over the summer to skate (or ski) through the winter season. They are both regional ambassadors for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, trading photo sessions for season passes. They attend regional big-mountain ski competitions and enjoy lift-accessed, backcountry, and snowmobile-accessed skiing.
“We like to live in the moment,” says Max. “Skiing is a good way to take your mind off of masonry [or anything that might be putting weight on our shoulders].” And while they all agree that there’s many a lost night of sleep in this business, it’s the hard play and the solid family values that make it all worth it.
Not Just Floating By
“Timing is everything,” says Heather Ewing of Barker-Ewing Whitewater, as she speaks about the pioneering of the guided boating industry.
Whitewater rafting wasn’t even a concept in the early days, and no one foresaw the tourist boom that would overtake the region. But Heather’s father, Frank Ewing—founder of their family business and the first-ever river boss for the Grand Teton Lodge Company—was more than in the right place at the right time.
“He was green as green can be,” she says of her father, who ran guided tours on the Snake River in the late 1950s, “but he tackles everything with 110 percent.” In fact, his first blind date with wife Patty included a ski on Mount Glory and square dancing at night (I guess he hoped she could keep up). And keep up she did as, years later, this schoolteacher fully supported Frank’s decision to guide on his own.
“It was so small and organic back then,” Heather says of the times. “They started out with no life jackets. People wore top hats and were dressed to the nines!” The couple later met Dick and Barbara Barker, and, with no real vision (according to Heather), Barker-Ewing Scenic Tours was born in 1963.
Heather’s not really sure whose bright idea it was, but in the early ’70s, Frank, Patty, Dick, Barbara, and two veteran guides dropped into the Snake River Canyon for an exploratory run and an “aha” moment. On this first whitewater trip—in a nonarmy-issue boat with twenty-foot ash oars—they got fully worked in a massive hydraulic. “Everyone was wet and cold, and the men were scooping up the ladies and relocating them in the boat for counterweight,” says Heather. They managed to clear the feature without upsetting their boat, but broke all three oars. Today, this Class V reversal named Three Oar Deal Rapid is one they look out for when running the canyon. And despite the scare, the experience nudged them enough to add whitewater rafting to their commercial offerings.
Barker-Ewing Whitewater—with a season solely reliant on Mother Nature—offers scenic float trips, scenic trips with meals, overnight trips, and whitewater rafting trips. But when they shove it all into four and a half months of summer, it’s only natural to question the lifestyle. “It’s not a hand-over-fist, moneymaking thing,” says Heather. She explains that while they make their money in the summer, they also hope the phone rings in the winter. The company operates under the same permits that it did in the ’70s, keeping the real estate tight and the need to come up with creative trip offerings essential for survival.
It’s challenging to keep the pocketbook afloat during the off-season, too. “In 1985, we leased our whitewater shuttles to Start Bus [in the winter],” says Heather. She explains how they built ski racks for the shuttles transporting skiers from town to Teton Village and back. If there was a maintenance issue, Frank would work nights at the boathouse making sure the shuttles would go. Frank also moonlighted as the ski director at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Today, the company employs only three year-round staff, 95 percent of their shuttle drivers are also school bus drivers, and a few of their guides are teachers. As for Heather, she also runs a property management business where you’ll find her doing fieldwork or fixing something. Last season, she got on the river only once. “You do what you have to do to be in this place,” she says. “This unique community collaboration is what keeps the wheels turning.”
Growing up on the river taught Heather the value of this area. “There is a limitless world out your doorstep that gives back to you infinitely,” she says. This sentiment is apparent in every trip Barker- Ewing offers. It’s a sentiment that keeps tourists grasping for the dangling carrot once they return home. And sometimes it’s the trip that hooks them on the area’s lifestyle. “My goal is to give that person a great experience so that they want to do it again,” says Heather.
And she’s completed her goal—time and time again—because while many go back to their desk jobs only to dream about their trip, there are also those who return because the experience altered their life. I suppose I might be one of them. And maybe you are, too. Because despite the hardships we all endure to finally “make it” here, we were able to stick it out—as the bug was much bigger than the bite.
Article and photos by Colleen Valenstein
I am pretty sure I’ve uttered the words, “I cannot wait until Cormac can ride a Strider bike.” But I have also caught myself wishing for him to take his first steps sooner and sleep through the night. As a new mother, I’m trying to learn to savor the moment, because it's true—time goes by fast.
Well, the geniuses over at Strider have apparently been thinking the same thoughts: If only a one-year-old could ride a bike. Enter, the Strider Rocking Base.
When it arrived in our living room (and after a quick ten-minute assembly), there was definitely some eyeballing from our thirteen-month-old son, Cormac. I refrained from grabbing him and plopping him on the saddle—as his level of independence is quickly growing—and instead, let him explore on his own. He eventually crawled over to the Strider and pulled himself up. I then helped him throw his leg over the saddle and showed him his hand placement. He immediately pushed on the handlebars to start the rocking motion. Now, nearly a month later, he can mount the bike, swing his leg over on his own, and dismount on the opposite side. Currently, he prefers standing to one side of the bike and rocking. (Note: This is a kid who thinks it’s smart to go down the stairs head first.)
I am excited to see how his interest for the Strider Rocking Base develops, especially once he starts walking. But I am also thoroughly enjoying the moment. I think his next move may be to stand on the saddle, hands on the grips, and rock away—but I certainly won’t wish for that.
By Andrea Swedberg // Photography by Camrin Dengel // Pattern by Chloë Brightman
“Hellooo, Mama! And welcome to ‘Gnomesville’!” says my nine-year-old daughter, clad in her seriously red, gingham-lined hooded cape, layered upon a polka-dot sweater and watermelon leggings. On top of her head rests a handmade red felt hat with a heart tassel.`
“In Gnomesville,” she carries on in her best English accent, “there is every type of gnome. I am a Baker Gnome.” And so it goes for about ten solid minutes. Her imagination continues to flow uninhibited, thought-for-thought, and I—very willingly—twirl myself up in her world; a world rich with the smell of fresh-baked cookies, crunchy fall leaves, and roaring bonfires.
This is the inherent ingredient of childhood: imagination. The make-believe. Children possess the natural ability to act out the personas that reside in their minds.
And the cape? Well, the cape gives them action.
Fall—and most specifically Halloween—lends itself to imagination and creativity. At this time of year, we find ourselves, as parents, mixing up the ingredients needed to foster imaginary worlds. With this in mind, I turned to Victor, Idaho, seamstress and costume designer Chloë Brightman for her thoughts on pretend play, creativity, and crafting a cape from household materials.
So, with the Halloween spirit looming in the rustling leaves, come with us to create a simple cape (instructions to follow) that will cloak your own little gnome or superhero.
Teton Family: How would you describe what you make, and where do you find inspiration?
Chloë Brightman: I like to take raw materials and turn them into something useful or beautiful. I love the process of turning a 2-D object (i.e., fabric) into something 3-D, with character and dimension. I start a project by identifying a need; then it often ends up encompassing more than originally planned. I can’t pinpoint any one source of inspiration … it comes from everywhere, really. Continually creating is my inspiration.
TF: When did you learn the art of needle and thread?
CB: My grandma taught me how to sew when I was about four. We started with doll blankets and clothing. She bought me my first sewing machine and over the years has given me immeasurable amounts of material and advice. She can sew anything! I still call her with sewing questions.
TF: Did you always want to create your own designs?
CB: At the age of two, I went to the doctor wearing a red sweatsuit and a turquoise tutu, paired with cowboy boots and a towel pinned around my neck (mandatory cape). In middle school, I would take thrift-store finds, cut them up, and sew them back together to create fun “Frankenstein” outfits. I remember calling my mom in college to tell her I had changed my major to costume design. Her response was, “Finally! I can’t believe you didn’t just start there.”
TF: Would you say that you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
CB: Some projects are craft, but others are art. Generally, items that I make multiples of would be considered craft. One-of-a-kind creations would be more in the art realm. “Art” or “craft” can depend on my mood and intention while creating that particular something.
TF: What percentage of your creations use recycled materials?
CB: I grew up in a house where reusing something was not a question. Then, I pursued a degree in theatre. Theatre is hugely underfunded, so budget is one of the main factors for deciding what is put on stage. Creativity is maximized since you need to create something from nothing.
TF: What is your thought on the idea of pretending?
CB: In theatre, we don’t consider it “pretend.” You are trained as a theatre student to get into character. Your practice is to actually “become” that person.
How to Make a Halloween Cape from an Old T-shirt
- Hot glue or spray glue
- Fabric scraps (felt, ribbons, sequins, buttons, beads, iron-on interfacing, or other materials)
- Lay a T-shirt out on a table, flat and smooth, front side down.
- With a ruler and marker, draw a slightly tapered line from each corner of the bottom hem to the shoulder seam, ending a couple of inches out from the neck hole.
- Flip the T-shirt over. Starting from one of the lines that end on the shoulder seam, draw an arch just below the collar of the shirt, connecting it to the opposing line on the other shoulder seam.
- Cut along the side lines and around the arched line to reveal a cape that can slip over your child's head.
Decorate your cape:
- Use spray glue, hot glue, or iron-on interfacing to attach other fabrics in the shape or color of your choice. Or—bust out your sewing skills!
- Use buttons, beads, sequins, glitter-glue, sticky felt, or fabric paint to decorate the cape.
- Alternately, use a shirt that already displays your child's favorite superhero emblem.
By Mel Paradis // Photography by Ashley Wilkerson
When you think about school lunch programs, you probably don’t envision Aristotle. Instead, you picture old ladies in hairnets slopping green beans on a tray. Yet it’s Aristotle’s quote, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” that is the core of both the curriculum and the lunch program at the Jackson Hole Classical Academy.
The Academy, which opened in the fall of 2014, aims to develop intellectual and moral foundations within its students, while encouraging good habits and strong academic achievement. “We want to be consistent in our model,” says headmaster Polly Friess. “We want our students to desire the right things. In literature, we want them to read great books. In music, we want them to listen to great music. When they eat, we want them to desire healthy foods.”
The Academy added a kitchen to the original building design, but it remained unused for the school’s first year. Then Chas Baki—father of a student, husband of the school’s kindergarten teacher, and a graduate of the Western Culinary Institute—offered his services. Baki moved to Jackson with his family in 2014 and has worked at The Blue Lion, Couloir, and Gather.
Currently, Baki and three other parents prepare lunches at the Academy on Mondays and Wednesdays. “My goal is to [someday] serve lunch five days a week, while providing healthy meals that parents can feel good about giving their children,” he explains. Though the meals look like traditional school lunches on the outside, students are surprised to learn that healthy ingredients are often snuck into the homemade fare. Baki makes almost everything from scratch—even the mayonnaise—and adds ingredients like black beans to the brownies and sunflower seeds to the chocolate chip cookies. When the children ask, “What are these green things?” it opens the opportunity to teach them about healthy ingredients. “One of the main reasons I got into the culinary arts was to learn about our relationship to food and how it affects our overall health through mind, body, and spirit,” Baki explains.
The school’s families add even more heart and soul to the lunch program through a unique model of financial support. Approximately 90 percent of enrolled students participate in the program. And while the actual cost of each meal is five dollars, some families pay only three and others opt to pay seven. “We built a community,” says Friess. “We support each other in a nice way.”
At the Jackson Hole Classical Academy, even lunch comes with a little dose of education and a whole lot of heart. For “food is the foundation of it all,” says Baki.
By Sue Muncaster // Photography by Bradly J. Boner
“The federal government is telling our teachers what to teach.”
“Education is being dumbed down.”
“It’s too hard, and there’s too much high-stakes testing.”
“We don’t have the resources; teachers will leave.”
“It’s a leftist agenda.”
As with anything revolutionary, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are highly debated. Now fully adopted in both Wyoming and Idaho, as well as in forty-two other states, the real impact of these standards will not be known for several years. And I certainly have my own opinions.
As a parent of a second-grader who transferred from Victor Elementary in Idaho to Jackson Elementary this past March, and of a freshman at Journeys School (who had spent seven years in public schools), sorting through the facts to present a coherent argument was more than just an assignment for me. It was my mission.
Standards define what a student should have mastered by the end of each grade. The No Child Left Behind Law—a 2002 update of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—required that each state adopt content standards in core subject areas. But because they were developed at the state level, the standards varied across the nation in content, rigor, and definition of student proficiency. The CCSS—spearheaded by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and a wide range of stakeholders—were developed to define a consistent, clear progression of what students should know in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math for grades kindergarten through twelve. However, curriculum choices and instructional methods are determined at the local level, and state adoption of the CCSS is not mandatory.
“The misperception of how the [CCSS] were set is unfortunate,” says Monte Woolstenhulme, Teton County, Idaho, school district superintendent. While much of the public thinks the standards follow a national curriculum, it’s actually the districts that plan their own strategies. “The biggest challenge was that the individual districts were initially left on their own to figure out the curriculum and assessments at a time when we were hit with major budget cuts,” he explains.
Contrary to popular belief, the intent of the CCSS is to help students become problem solvers, critical thinkers, creators, and innovators, rather than just memorizers and repeaters. Additionally, the standards insist that all teachers in all subjects share responsibility for developing students’ literacy skills. The CCSS highly support differentiated instruction. And students at different levels can choose (with teacher guidance) their own ways to learn, ways to demonstrate what they have learned, and ways to progress at their own pace. Students are also allowed to explore subjects that resonate with them, giving them ownership of their own learning.
The Big Rollout
Idaho adopted the CCSS in 2009 under the name Idaho Core Standards and began implementing them in 2013. Wyoming adopted the CCSS in July 2012, with a goal of implementation in 2014. But it wasn’t until 2015 that CCSS-aligned math was taught in Wyoming, countywide.
Curricula—the instructional methods and materials used to deliver instruction—differ, as states, districts, and schools adjust them to fit the standards. According to Teton County, Wyoming, Superintendent Gillian Chapman, “In K through five, we have specific curricula [such as Lucy Calkins for ELA and EngageNY math]. … In middle and high school, teacher teams, principals, instructional coaches, and consultants have worked to align our instructional program to the standards, which includes selecting common instructional materials as our district curriculum.” Teton County, Idaho, also uses Lucy Calkins and EngageNY math in elementary school, as well as a variety of other curricula. And at the upper levels, the district is working toward alignment in much the same way as Wyoming, with professional development workshops, resources provided by the State Department of Education, leadership networks, and direction from regional specialists. Superintendent Woolstenhulme says, “We saw a big shift in resources—teaching is no longer textbook-driven, but is structured to use a variety [of resources] to reach students, including the Internet and leveraging local community experts.”
What’s Up with the Math?
It’s the math curriculum that has caused parents and teachers the most heartburn. Every educator interviewed for this article expressed frustration over parents confusing “the curriculum” with “the standards” (which is easy to do when your kid’s EngageNY math homework says “Common Core” on the bottom).
“It’s definitely not math the way we learned it. It took a long time, but now I see how it addresses different learning styles and makes everyone understand multiple ways of getting to the same answer,” says Victor mom Janene Witherite. Another local mother, Leslie Heineman, says, “It’s a good way to pull in kids who learn from a different perspective, but for [my fourth-grade son], it gets really repetitive and boring. I worry about keeping the fire going.”
Sarah Granado, a first-grade teacher at Victor Elementary, lends her opinion: “As a student who struggled with abstract mathematical concepts, I remember complaining loudly, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ My students will never be able to say that. They solve an ‘application problem’ each day and are even asked to write their own.”
Principal Megan Bybee of Rendezvous Upper Elementary in Driggs, Idaho, has seen a definite improvement in equity, alignment, and progression of skills that she attributes to the CCSS. “I love EngageNY,” she says. “When you look at the data, we have more students now proficient in math skills than I have ever seen. I am so excited to have kids come into school next year with a couple years of EngageNY as a baseline.”
Individual schools seem to be working out their own ELA curriculum, which concerns Teton County, Idaho, school board member Nan Pugh. “We were in the midst of budget cuts and the district was left to figure out a curriculum based on minimal training. At times, what teachers created and modified looked different in each classroom.”
Alignment and Execution
In Teton County, Wyoming, many teachers expressed a general discontent with the lack of resources, training, and direction, leaving them with the responsibility to interpret the standards and invent curriculum on their own. One teacher says, “CCSS leaves so much to interpretation, it’s hard to see how that is viable and consistent from classroom to classroom. We are scrambling for resources and have smart people who paid attention, but curriculum, so far, has been a moving target.”
Victor’s Granado paints a different picture. “When I first started teaching reading to first-graders thirteen years ago, my focus was on decoding. I felt that my students needed to be able to figure out the words and read fluently. … Deep comprehension was left to the grades above. Now, I am delighted with the intelligent way my readers think. They compare books about the same topic. They track characters in a series. … They read and talk about books in analytical ways. … Granted, this happens at different levels, but they are all expected to grow these skills.”
A major challenge for all schools is the expectation that CCSS are implemented across all subject areas. Jackson Hole High School Principal Scott Crisp explains, “By high school, we are not used to making kids better readers, but that was our school-wide goal this year across all subject areas. Aligning to Common Core means developing an ‘academic vocabulary’ and being able to identify evidence in text to justify an answer.”
And what about differentiated instruction and how the CCSS impact special-needs and English-language learners (ELLs)? Granado says, “When I switched over to a workshop model for language arts, it did wonders for my student engagement. Because students are allowed to read and write at their own ‘good fit’ level, they are not forced to endure instruction that doesn’t apply to them.”
Superintendent Woolstenhulme believes the CCSS are “driving teachers and empowering students beyond regurgitation and route learning.” When visiting classrooms, he now sees improvement. “It’s not just what you know, but how well you can share and communicate it,” he says. Granado agrees: “One [good] thing about CCSS is that the responsibility is transferred to the students to be teachers. This occurs in all subjects in my classroom now. … Today, I even watched a writing partner help revise and edit his partner’s poem.” She says ELLs and special-needs kids also take part in this “teaching” and that all students are now thriving in an environment where they feel valued.
The - Dare I Say It - Tests
Classroom and district assessments inform teachers how well students are succeeding, while statewide, or summative, assessments give a broader look at how they compare nationwide. The federal government requires all states to test students annually in grades three through eight and only once in high school in reading, language arts, and math. However, students must be tested in science once in each grade. And while none of the tests are specifically mandated by the CCSS, state Departments of Education and local districts determine which ones are given.
Idaho has joined twenty other states in adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a summative test developed by a state-led consortium. Currently available for grades three through eight, and for grade eleven, it fully aligns with the CCSS and is designed to address long-standing concerns (historically, standardized tests measured the ability to memorize facts, rather than critical thinking and applied knowledge). The SBAC is “computer-adaptive,” meaning that a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging question, while an incorrect answer generates an easier one. This method is designed to provide a more engaging experience, be more time-efficient, and—especially for low- or high-achieving students—produce more accurate results. The SBAC is also designed to eliminate visual, auditory, and physical access barriers for students with disabilities, so they are essentially able to take the same test as their peers. And it provides tools to help ELLs demonstrate their knowledge, regardless of English proficiency.
The first SBAC was taken as a “field test” in Idaho in the spring of 2014. Wyoming will administer the state-developed Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) test in the 2016-17 school year, and is in the process of choosing a CCSS-aligned test that will be implemented in 2017-18. Currently, both districts use the formative test, MAP (Measures of Academic Progress). And while it’s not totally aligned with the CCSS, it’s designed to inform teachers where students are at the time of the test and to help develop growth goals and instructional strategies for the coming year. At the high school level, benchmark exams are given throughout the year, and the ACT Aspire and ACT are still the summative tests for upperclassmen.
So, How High Are the Stakes?
The “suburban mom” outcry against the CCSS is blamed on the fear that with a new system and a new way of scoring, students would not perform as well as they did historically. There is no way to compare new scores with old ones or compare states taking different tests. It’s yet to be seen if the more rigorous standards, backed by rigorous assessments, will prove the naysayers’ prediction.
I’d contend that it’s not the results or volume of testing that makes us uncomfortable, but rather the amount of time spent “teaching to the test.” Principal Bybee balks at this idea. “We don’t need to. If the tests are adequately and appropriately aligned to the standards, and we are meeting the standards, our students should do well.” She feels that the writing requirement is excessive, but understands where it comes from. “If you are expected to write twenty pages in college, you have to be able to pull off one paragraph in fourth grade,” Bybee says.
The Be-All and End-All
What do I know?
Last spring we took our family to South America for one month in January. An inch-thick packet of EngageNY worksheets (to keep our first-grader, Nico, up to date) weighed us down. But once we got the hang of it, the homework sessions began to fly by. “If I know it in a snap, my teacher says I don’t have to do all the explaining,” Nico insisted. Three weeks after returning to the Tetons, we moved over the hill and enrolled him in Jackson Elementary. His new class was within a couple weeks of the exact same math lessons, and the spelling and writing workshop processes were almost identical. This made the transition seamless.
In early April, I noticed Nico wasn’t completing the “please explain” portion of his daily math homework. “If it’s on the test, I’ll explain it,” he said.
“Do you talk about the tests at school?” I asked, knowing that the end-of-year assessments were a couple weeks out.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much all we practice,” he said. And my heart dropped.
But not ten minutes later—after he whipped through a Fly Guy book I know I couldn’t read until third grade—he started telling me the intricate plot of the story he was writing. It was about three friends who fell into a crevasse “as thick as a car” in the Alps and dug their way out through tunnels with hammers. An informal survey of his classmates was also reassuring. Thirteen out of fourteen kids liked presenting their work to their peers, saying it made them feel proud, it was motivating, and they got to help out by being the teacher.
Locally, Teton County, Idaho, recently hired a curriculum assessment director, and both districts look forward to continued improvements for teachers’ professional development, with the sharing of open-source resources and collaboration within districts, across districts, and across the country. Many argue that the paradigm shift to deeper learning for all students will take a generation, or even more.
But is it really the curriculum, the district, the funding, or the teachers that will determine whether our students succeed?
Superintendent Woolstenhulme says (and volumes of research support this), “Of course we take ownership of quality teachers and curriculum, but the biggest factor in student success is a stable, supportive family—we can do amazing things with that partnership.”
- What Parents Should Know about Common Core Standards
- Parents’ Guide to Student Success In Common Core
Math Homework Support:
- Khan Academy
- EngageNY Homework Help (videos for EVERY assignment)
- YouCubed (Stanford University): Resources for Parents
Wyoming: Pursuant to the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, districts are required to administer assessments to all students in the appropriate grade levels and may not allow students to opt out, or their parents to opt them out, of the assessments provided by law.
Idaho: Idaho Code 32-10-12 allows parents to make choices that affect their children’s education, and opting out is one of them. However, if a school goes below the 95 percent participation rate mandated by the federal government, it could jeopardize district funding.
By Tibby Plasse // Photography by Camrin Dengel
My first jam season at Paradise Springs Farm in Teton Valley piqued my curiosity about Biodynamic practices.
After a few weeks of picking raspberries and some long nights of canning, it was clear that different things happened on different days. And while my husband, Mike, would let me know what days would be best for picking berries and processing (based on the calendar, which read like a Star Trek prop), I only half paid attention, working around my own schedule instead. But I learned something. A jar of jam processed on a “leaf day” was muted and pallid, whereas the “fruit day” batches were an iridescent fuchsia. I couldn’t believe the difference in taste and color, even though they all shared the same recipe. Years later, I know it’s not just the fruit. Calves show up during oppositions, weather shifts with planetary positions, and some days are just blank, do-nothing days. If I plant a root crop on a blank day, it may never come up … proving there’s a bigger picture to this type of farming.
Biodynamic agriculture—which treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, with the aid of an astrological sowing calendar—is a dense and intimidating field on which to gain footing. In 1924, philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner presented a system that bettered the outcome for a crop, or a herd, and also healed the soil in the process. When modern industrialization changed production practices, farmers sought Steiner’s opinion on how to salvage and, hopefully, restore the health of their crops. This resulted in a series of holistic management practices that incorporates energy from the cosmos (right down to burying cows’ horns as an antenna for this energy), to herbal ground preparations, to composting. He believed that “food should be grown to nourish the mind, body, and spirit, and not just be stomach filler.” By 1928, the Demeter Association Inc. was formed in Europe to promote Biodynamic farming and a certification system was implemented. And in 1962, farmer Maria Thun devised a Biodynamic calendar, which was based on a lifetime of planting experiments that resulted in proven patterns.
Every farmer and anthroposophist struggles with Steiner’s dense texts. And while my farmers-market spiel doesn’t include everything, it surely gets the conversation going. I hit the following key points: Biodynamic farmers view their farms as self-contained, self-sustaining ecosystems responsible for creating and maintaining their health and vitality without any external or unnatural additions. This ebb and flow of a self-serving unit uses on-farm recycling to improve the character of the farm for animals and crops. Farms minimize inputs for pest management. Water conservation is critical to a balanced operation. And specially prepared medicinal plants, minerals, and composted animal manures (known as “preps”) are applied to crops and lands as a means of improving vitality. Additionally, Biodynamic farms are required to maintain at least 10 percent of their total acreage as a “biodiversity set-aside,” which includes riparian zones, grasslands, and forests.
Accountability, traceability, and transparency are starting to become critical concerns for large agricultural productions, but they’ve always been badges of honor for Biodynamic farms. The Demeter Biodynamic certification includes fourteen different standards, incorporating those for wine, cheese, olive oil, dairy, and body care products. These standards guarantee an unbroken chain of accountability from farm to the finished product. It’s the ability to show anyone how your operation works, that its existence is based on the purest rules, and that it yields a well-taken-care-of plant and a nourishing ingredient that sets Biodynamic farming apart.
We’re fortunate enough to have two certified operations in the Tetons, serving both Jackson and Teton Valley: Cosmic Apple Gardens and Paradise Springs Farm. Additionally, Full Circle Farm practices under the tenets of holistic management, but is not yet certified.
Cosmic Apple’s founder, Jed Restuccia, was the first person to bring Biodynamic practices to the area. In 1994, he began experimenting with preps. “The difference is apparent—it’s the best food anyone’s ever had,” he enthuses. Cosmic Apple’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is a local tradition and a shared introduction to alternative agricultural practices. Farm owner Dale Sharkey explains: “We don’t try to force [Biodynamic farming] on people. The biggest thing we teach is that there are alternative methods to organic foods. The quality speaks for itself.”
Erika Eschholz, founder of Full Circle Education and cofounder of Full Circle Farm, first learned about Biodynamic farming from Restuccia in 1997, while working at Cosmic Apple. “This holistic approach to agriculture immediately resonated with me as a complement to my background in environmental and earth education,” she says. Eschholz and her husband, Ken Michael, work their land in a way that is accessible to learners of all ages by providing opportunities for the community to connect with the natural world on their farm.
At Paradise Springs Farm, my husband, Mike Reid, starts each day by checking Maria Thun’s calendar. First introduced to Biodynamic farming while studying botany and biology at Colorado State University, he now operates a 200-acre Biodynamic dairy farm at the base of the Big Hole Mountains. When asked what strikes him the most about Biodynamic practices, Mike responds, “Organic agriculture is fine, but it doesn’t present a practical system that encompasses all aspects. … Some of the things we do on Biodynamic farms sound far-out, but in reality, it’s the best and easiest path to take for the long term.”
There’s a growing market for Biodynamic foods. Demeter USA works with companies like Lundberg Family Farms, Amy’s Kitchen, Lakewood Juices, Zhena’s Teas, and others to match the consumer demand for products. As Elizabeth Candelario, codirector of Demeter USA, explains, “It’s absolutely unquestionable that the quality of product is there—terroir is not just for wine.”
A rice farmer from Lundberg Family Farms describes his first Biodynamic crop as more varietal-accurate than any other crop he had ever had. “It’s good for us. It’s good for the farm. It tastes good,” he says.
As impossible as it all sounds—incorporating the power of cosmic energy, the planets’ placement, the requirements to meet certification, and the sheer intestinal fortitude it takes to be a farmer—the end result is sparkling. Local clairvoyant Carol Mann sums it up: “Scientists and metaphysical experts acknowledge that everything is energy. Food with a higher frequency totally enlivens the body, mind, and spirit. Plants absorb energy, plants communicate, have memory, and respond to their environment.” This type of integrity creates a higher quality for existence. In other words, you are what you eat.
Biodynamics® is a registered trademark of the Biodynamic Association.
By Christine Colbert
When we think of family, we commonly imagine the average makeup: a set of parents, 3.5 kids, and maybe a dog or cat. But here in the Tetons, average doesn’t always apply. Living amongst this wild landscape inspires creativity, a quality that sometimes spills over into our concept of family as our circle of friends becomes a substitute, or additive, depending on your regional roots. Whether it’s a surrogate mother, a substitute brother, or a fatherly figure, many find that their friends are as close as or, in some cases, even closer than family.
That’s why living here is unique. You don’t necessarily need blood relatives to feel like you have kinsfolk in this outpost. For more than a hundred years, this region has brought like-minded people closer together. And maybe it’s because of this that the typical family doesn’t always include the traditional composition but, rather, an assemblage of individuals making a life together in this harsh but awe-inspiring region.
It’s a big-picture Thing
This quality brought Nancy and Michael “Mac” McCoy back to the area in 1995. The couple and their dog picked up and started a new life in Teton Valley, Idaho, where they’d met in the winter of 1973-74 working at Grand Targhee Resort. While here, their childfree path has allowed them to pursue adventurous careers offering extensive travel and reprieve from the valley. Mac’s work with Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit that aims to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle, requires him to take big blocks of time to map out multistate bicycle routes like the Great Divide. Together he and Nancy have cycled in Europe and organized trips for themselves and friends.
This sense of coveted freedom is also the case for Jackson-based couple Amy and Jeff Golightly. Without kids, they have more time to connect with their community and have fostered close relationships with a diverse group of friends. “Our life is really full,” Amy says. “It’s easy.” Being childfree doesn’t mean the pair are exempt from attending the occasional recital or engaging in the progression of their friends’ children, though—they are just not genetically obligated. Instead, they have created a family from the people they love to be around, in addition to immediate relatives. Through a combination of choice and chance, their circle consists of parents, friends, nieces, and nephews, as well as a couple of dogs. Children of their own are not part of the equation.
The McCoys also find family amongst their friends and neighbors. “It’s broader-based,” Nancy says. In fact, as the owners of Powder Mountain Press in Driggs, the McCoys launched Teton Family magazine in 2012, partly in an effort to try to expand the meaning of “family” in the region. And they have a good circle of friends they consider family, too, including a twenty-three-year-old godson who is pursuing a career in slopestyle and freeride skiing. Their chosen family—consisting of those they deliberately prefer to be around—is a big part of their lives. “You get the call when the baby is going to be born; you go stay with the family while they’re in the hospital,” Nancy explains. When there’s an accident, a loss, or a friend’s kid needs a ride to Jackson, they’ve enjoyed being a resource. “You can be as involved as you want to be,” Mac says.
It’s a (Relatively) Stress-Free Living Thing
Without children, both couples enjoy greater financial freedom. The Golightlys’ ability to switch careers when they’ve needed to has offered a huge reward. “Kids are expensive,” Amy says. Without the financial stress, “we’ve been able to do that which has called to us, instead of the dollar value it provided,” Jeff adds.
“I would say our life is simple, but that’s not necessarily because we don’t have kids. We do have our two dogs,” says Amy, referring to their canine commitments. “There’s a lower level of stress. We can spend more time focusing on each other and having time for ourselves,” she adds, noting the couple have maintained a strong relationship because of their childfree circumstances. There are no competing interests in the home, and they find it easier to take care of each other while fitting in a mountain bike ride or a day of skiing.
Animals provide a grounding influence for the McCoys, too. A long time ago they committed to always having at least one dog. “Even childless people find ways to tie themselves down,” jokes Mac, as their six-year-old American Field Spaniel, Eddie, dozes underfoot.
“We’re definitely not saving for college,” Nancy says. To that Mac adds, “We probably wouldn’t have moved here from Missoula [Montana] if we had kids, because the financial thing would have been a big part of it.” The McCoys are also grateful for their ability to have avoided corporate life. “Our stress level is a lot less than it would be otherwise,” Nancy says.
It’s a ‘Community Matters’ Thing
For most people who’ve settled down in the Tetons, having children doesn’t necessarily dictate their level of community involvement. There is no line of separation between those with kids and those without. Connections are made based on common interests rather than traditional family values.
Volunteering is a big part of the Golightlys’ life. Amy holds a spot on the board of two organizations: Mountain Bike the Tetons and Womentum. And she volunteers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, all while serving as the associate director of the Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation. As the CEO of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, Jeff also finds plenty of opportunities to get involved. He volunteers with the Rotary Club of Jackson Hole and the Center for the Arts. “We give of our time, but in a way that’s fulfilling for us,” Amy says.
The McCoys support their community by actively voting for local education initiatives (a big deal in Idaho), and also by donating their time to community issues that speak to their interests. Nancy spent almost a decade as a hospital trustee for Teton Valley Health Care and now volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in Idaho’s Judicial District VII. Mac was a founding board member of Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP) and spent many years serving that organization.
It’s an Adventure Thing
Unlike other places, people in the Tetons don’t judge your concept of family. “There doesn’t seem to be as much of an expectation here to have kids,” Jeff explains. “There’s no look of surprise or pity when people ask if we have children. Instead, most people just want to go skiing on the weekend.” The Golightlys and the McCoys both feel that this unique area fosters acceptance of all kinds of lifestyles. “Here, people live for adventure,” Amy says.
“If someone doesn’t want to or cannot have kids, it’s not the end of the world, that’s for sure,” Mac says. “There are lots of positive aspects to it,” Nancy adds, apparent in the lifestyle they live, the jobs they’ve landed, and the adventure travel they’ve pursued. “I do think it was the nature of where we were and the opportunities presented to us that helped guide us … and now we’re looking at retirement,” Nancy says laughing, after already living a life of doing pretty much what she and Mac wanted to do.
Both the Golightlys and the McCoys would never trade their paths for any other. “A tremendous part of the people and the life here is that we can rely on friends to fill that family role,” Amy says. Having time to focus on what makes them happy is the biggest reward. Both couples cherish the feeling that many childfree pairs experience—freedom to surround themselves with people of all ages that truly fill them up. “We’ve been fortunate to pick a path that’s healthy for us,” Amy says. “I wouldn’t change it.”
If you have even the slightest creative spark, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic (Penguin Books, 2015), is sure to draw it out. Not just for writers and artists, Gilbert’s book—full of inspirational one-liners that you should jot down, post near your desk, and ponder from time to time—gives us permission to unleash our creative beings, despite our “perceived” effect on the world. Maybe you write, maybe you’re a professional or amateur photographer, or maybe your perennial beds overflow with artistic expression. Or maybe not. Either way, Gilbert reminds us that “we need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that we forget to eat, forget to pee, forget to mow the lawn … forget to brood over our insecurities.” And that creative living can “relieve us from the dreadful burden of being who we are.” She urges us to ditch our fears and reminds us that what we make matters. I’ve personally dog-eared every other page in this book, and I bet you will, too, as Gilbert nudges you toward embracing what you love to do. – Christina Shepherd McGuire
I live in a county of 10,000 people and we have two traffic lights, both of which have gone up in the last sixteen years. But I’ve never been bored here. The weather can be extreme and so are the people. This community is tough and passionate and a little bit crazy. Everywhere I look I see hardcore athletes, artists, and musicians. People who’ve managed to carve a beautiful life in a difficult place through hard work, sacrifice, and flexibility. And the kids here are inspirational, too—stewards of the earth pushing down life’s trails and rivers on skis, boards, bikes, horses, boats, and their own two feet. We get to wake up to the sun rising over the Tetons each morning and live each day above a simmering super caldera. This place isn’t for everybody but it’s the place for me.
– Kathleen Plourde, Victor, Idaho (random Facebook post)
by Christina Shepherd McGuire // Photographs by Emily Sustick
“Eat your weeds” and “eat with the seasons” are statements we hear from both foodies and health practitioners these days. At one point in time, we—as in “humans”—didn’t need the reminder. We lived closer to the Earth, actually foraging on the bounty that poked up from the ground in the early spring (to cleanse our liver of winter’s accumulation), during the summer (to cool our bodies from heated temperatures), and in the fall (to combat the dryness of the changing seasons). But somehow, with modern food processing and distribution, we strayed away from aligning the food we eat to the rhythm of nature. That’s why I made it my mission to take a detour from life’s hubbub and connect with nature’s goodness through Full Circle Education’s Wild Edibles Workshop.
Before venturing out on a warm June afternoon, Teton Science School botanist and guide, Kevin Taylor, reminded us to “leave your egos at home” and ask a lot of questions. To begin, Taylor familiarized us with the basic foraging ethics: 1. Only collect plants where they are in abundance, 2. Don’t collect along roadsides, trails, or parks (they may have been sprayed), 3. Take a reverent approach and remember that harvesting a plant is comparable to hunting and killing an animal for food. He explained that after years of studying plants and using them for food, he now has a different relationship with them, often “greeting an old friend again” as it peeks out from under the snowmelt.
Without hesitation, we dove right into weeds, because—well—they are the first plants to come up in the spring and they are also the most nutritious. Dandelion, for instance, has eight times more nutritional value than green leaf lettuce. And other weeds in the sunflower family like prickly lettuce, oyster plant (a dandelion on steroids), and pineapple weed follow suit.
I learned dandelions were brought over by early European settlers for both edible and medicinal purposes and that pineapple weed (a plant prevalent in my driveway) tastes and acts like chamomile when you dry the flowers and steep them into a tea. Then there are the mustards like black mustard, pennycress, shepherd’s purse, and watercress. Experiencing their spicy, cleansing tastes transformed my relationship with these commonalities that grow on roadsides and in creek beds.
Venturing into the woods, we explored the uses for the low growing, mucilaginous plantain—a replacement for moleskin and a mosquito sting aid. We stumbled upon the prevalent wild roses, whose hips are a good source of Vitamin C in the fall, and the protein-dense stinging nettle, a digestive aid and antihistamine. By far my favorite finding was the yumminess of the lower cattail stalks. Pulling its rhizome from the ground and peeling back the outer, this stalk—chock full of Vitamins A, B, and C,—tasted like the tender inners of celery.
My experience that day—and the teachings that Taylor instilled—has me looking at wild plants in a whole different light, especially the weeds. As the workshop concluded and we walked back to our cars through the field of Snowdrift Farms, I felt nourished from the ground up (no pun intended) and much better armed to tackle this season’s foraging. It’s a knowledge I now take with me into the woods, as I try to identify the unfamiliar and sample the plants I know best. I plan to intimately acquaint myself with one or two plants every year—this year, it’s nettles and rose hips. In fact, with the help of nettle tea, allergy season was delightfully uneventful, proving there’s better ease the closer your alignment is to nature. Next year I’ll choose something new—perhaps huckleberries and morels. And I’m crossing my fingers that a mushroom workshop is up next.
For more information on Full Circle’s Sustainable Living Workshops, check out tetonfullcircle.org.
By Christina Shepherd McGuire // Photographs by Camrin Dengel
I love honey. I love the way it slides off my spoon into my morning coffee. I love its sweet, earthy smell and the golden hue it reveals when the light hits the Mason jar just so. I love the crusty goodness that accumulates on the surface of local, raw, and unprocessed varieties—the goods that quell seasonal allergies.
I actually have this thing with bees, too, and have always dreamt of having my own hive someday. I figured it was my calling, since I’m one of those oddballs who can weed an overgrown perennial bed with bees buzzing about, landing on me, whispering in my ear—no freak-out necessary. In fact, I’ve only been stung once or twice in my life, and I bet the infliction wasn’t from a honeybee.
Honeybees have this aura. They go about their day just doing their jobs for the good of the greater whole. There are only a few goals on the minds of these creatures, I suspect: gather nectar, make honey, and feed the queen. Such simpletons! I used to think of them as single insects—one in themselves—until I caught up with the pros who convinced me that a honeybee is actually just a small part of a bigger organism called a colony.
The Plight of the Honeybee
Life inside a beehive may seem pretty confusing to the average onlooker. And the hierarchy that exists amongst the colony sure is quirky. Of course, there’s the queen bee, central to the survival of the entire colony. All the other bees live, work, and die for the queen. But despite her governing name, the queen bee—with a brain much smaller than a worker—doesn’t rule the roost. Instead, she’s an egg-laying machine (yes, barefoot and pregnant, folks!). She also emits pheromones (or bee perfume) that only the bees in the hive can smell. This type of sophisticated communication tells the bees that all is well with the queen and definitely dictates the personality of the hive.
The female worker bees—the ones who truly wear the pants in the family—support their queen year-round. Surprisingly, their role goes well beyond just that of collecting nectar and pollen. The worker bees’ job is allocated on the basis of age. On days one and two, the workers clean cells and keep the brood (egg, larva, and pupa) warm. On days three through five, workers feed the older larvae, followed by days six and seven when they feed the younger larvae. Days twelve through seventeen are devoted to producing wax, building cells, and carrying food. During days eighteen to twenty-one, they guard the hive. And finally, after day twenty-two, the workers then fly from the hive, pollinating plants and collecting pollen, nectar, and water.
And the drone bees—well, sorry, guys—they only have one duty: mate with the queen before they die. In early autumn, the drones are evicted from the hive by the pants-wearing worker bees. The end.
Now this simplistic rendition of what goes on in the hive only unveils one part of the bigger picture. Aside from supporting their egg-laying queen, honeybees have the broad responsibility of pollinating agricultural and wild plants. As they gather nectar and pollen, they also deposit male plant pollen into the stigma of the female plants, stimulating the growth of seed and fruit. Certain crops—namely blueberries, cherries, and almonds—depend almost solely on honeybee pollination, making the business of bees a hot commodity in the agricultural space.
But sometimes being a creature essential to nature has its disadvantages. Honeybees-for-hire are shipped seasonally—from places like Wyoming and Idaho—to California and back to pollinate agricultural crops. (This is big business, people!) And this $14 billion industry remains one of the key factors in the proliferation of colony collapse disorder, a worldwide epidemic. Local beekeeper and Teton Valley, Idaho, resident Rob Dupre explains the specifics: “Bees are trucked around the country on semis—which is very stressful for the bees—then arrive at a huge monoculture area [like an almond grove] and get fed chemically medicated corn syrup until the almond trees start blooming. Mites and diseases are spread amongst the bees, and then the bees are dispersed back out around the country again, including into this valley.” Dupre mentions that one of the main detriments to bee populations is the Varroa mite, an Asian mite that first appeared in the States around 1985. This mite shows up not only on the commercial colonies that summer in our high mountain area, but can also afflict backyard populations, too.
Artisanal Keepers and Natural Methods
Big business aside, local honeybee keepers are popping up like weeds—and it’s not just happening here. With a greater awareness of the honeybee’s quandary, everyday citizens are educating themselves and delving into the practice of raising bees. True, some were drawn to this artisanal craft so they could enjoy the foodie staple of raw honey, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, among other benefits. Others have a more holistic plan that includes their backyard vegetable or fruit gardens. But whatever the motive, backyard keepers have learned to prize their bees not only for their honey, but also for their place in our ecosystem.
It’s funny—nearly every beekeeper I spoke with claimed novice status, even if they’ve been cultivating bees for years. “I’m no expert … ,” “You probably shouldn’t be talking to me … ,” and, “I’m really just learning,” were all phrases spoken before I finally coerced them into an interview. You see, bees—with their specific roles and calculated idiosyncrasies—seem to humble the backyard keeper, keeping them on their toes every year.
First, there is the natural process of swarming, when a portion of the colony’s workers create a new queen and leave the hive, forming a swarm. Emily Sustick, program director for Full Circle Education and a backyard beekeeper, explains, “Swarming is a natural process of reproduction that happens in the late spring or early summer after the colony has built back its population and the queen is no longer able to find cell space to lay a new brood. Swarming allows for diversification of the gene pool, increasing the overall health and resilience of the colony.” To prevent a potential swarm, keepers may add another box to their hive or add more frames around the brood box so that the queen can expand her egg-laying space. But if you’re not totally on top of it—BAM—you’ve got a swarm! Last spring, Sustick recaptured a swarm on a tree in her yard (one of those educating experiences), making two hives out of her one. Unfortunately, the new colony didn’t make it through the winter.
Denise DelSignore, of Felt, Idaho, just leaves her bees alone. She explains that she goes into her five hives only once yearly and never smokes them (a process used for inspection that calms bees in the hive). DelSignore started keeping bees as a family tradition that dates back to her grandfather. She keeps two types of hives: a Warre hive, which is a top-bar hive that closely mimics nature, allowing the bees to draw out their own comb from the top down; and the more popular Langstroth hive, which consists of boxes (or supers) stacked on top of each other with frame foundations for bees to make their comb and store their honey. DelSignore harvests honey only in the spring, after the bees have had enough to overwinter. And she does so sparingly, assuring little disruption of the unit. Sustick concurs, noting that when you first establish a hive, you need to forgo harvesting honey for at least one full year to ensure they will make it through the winter.
Beekeeping in a climate with a short summer season definitely has its challenges. Aside from ensuring the bees have enough honey to survive the winter (roughly seventy pounds), you also need to provide nutrients during the sparse spring months. DelSignore makes bee patties out of store-bought pollen, soy lecithin, and either lemongrass or wintergreen essential oils. The patties give her bees a pollen source prior to first blooms, while the oils help fight disease. Similarly, Sustick makes a spring tea for her bees to help with immunity. In the past, she has also dusted her bees with powdered sugar to prevent mites from attaching to their bodies. And Dupre uses a screen on the bottom board of his hives. When the bees pick mites off each other, they fall out of the hive and onto the ground, preventing infestation.
Despite these best efforts, even the most versed keeper eventually loses a colony. Dupre has captured a few of his past swarms, but none of them have prospered. Sustick lost one colony this winter, and DelSignore—despite her hands-off approach—has had a few colonies perish throughout her years. “Discovering one of my hives deceased initially felt like a huge loss,” explains Sustick, “but working with a threatened species [especially in a cold climate], I regard this as part of the learning experience, and it will not deter my efforts.”
Luckily, our local keepers have a shoulder to lean on and encouraging friends to share tactics with. The Teton Valley Beekeeper’s Association, organized by Dupre, keeps members informed of regional bee-related events and information. Through this organization, he coordinates bee orders and pickups. The first meeting, held last spring, had six attendees. Dupre hopes to have seasonal meetings where keepers can coordinate equipment and bee orders, as well as honey-extracting efforts. In the future, he hopes to organize a beekeeping class and/or coordinate a guest speaker. Any beekeeper is welcome to join.
When asked if the rise of backyard keeping helps populations thrive, my responses were varied, but one theme rang true: education. Being a beekeeper and learning directly from the bees creates a bigger-picture awareness, one that segues into everyday life. “What I have learned is that I’m a more bee-centric beekeeper. I am concerned about the health and proliferation of the species,” Sustick explains.
Sustick spreads the love through her teachings with Full Circle Education. “Children are fascinated by these social insects and are intrigued when they discover that much of the food they consume daily is dependent upon pollinators.” She further connects them to this species through practical arts, such as instilling the tradition of making (dipping) beeswax candles during the winter solstice with the Teton Valley Community School, Alta Elementary School, and homeschooled children.
And for adults, with honeybee-rearing gaining popularity, questions surrounding bees are asked and answered. This awareness ultimately fosters a bigger, more mindful movement. “Since the honeybee maintains a symbiotic relationship with much of the natural world, their decline in health is a reflection of a greater imbalance and disruption to our ecosystems,” Sustick explains. “Ultimately, my goal is to help people make this connection and take action in their own lives to protect and support the proliferation of this incredible species.”
By simply observing a colony in action, maybe we’ll take more time to engage and notice the bees in our own garden. Maybe we’ll start planting bee-centric scapes, and maybe we’ll skip fertilizing our lawns this spring. And maybe, just maybe, by spreading this awareness we’ll start to bring more balance into our natural world. Start a thread on your local gardening platform. Ask a question of your seasonal landscaper. Spread the bee-centric word. Go ahead, I dare you.
- Plant native bee-friendly plants in your garden and cultivate native plants, too.
Buy from a nursery that sources plants free of harmful pesticides.
Replace part of your lawn with flowering plants.
Leave the dandelions and clover alone.
Report swarms to a local beekeeping group (like the Teton Valley Beekeeper’s Association) instead of calling an exterminator. Swarms tend to be docile because they have no home or honey to protect.
Support local organic farmers and CSAs, especially those using regenerative farming practices.
Plant cover crops in your vegetable garden once it’s passed, and/or wherever there is bare soil. This helps reduce weeds and provide a food source for bees. Examples include crimson clover and buckwheat.
Steer clear of using chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers in your garden and on your lawn. Many are toxic to bees.
Most importantly—get to know the bee!
- Join Full Circle Education to learn more about bees and pollinators through a workshop coming this summer. Tour hives and gardens, taste local honey, and more. For more info, visit tetonfullcircle.org.
- Teton Valley Beekeeper’s Association contact: email@example.com
By Poa Van Sickle // Photographs by Paulette Phlipot
Over the last decade, kombucha has gone mainstream, piquing an interest in fermented beverages. Other traditional tonic beverages are gaining attention, too. While ferments have evolved throughout the ages, what is causing their resurgence? For one, many Americans recognize that their digestion is impaired and have found relief with fermented beverages. Also, discoveries in the microbiome and its effects on both body and mind have spawned awareness around what we cannot see in the foods we consume. And lastly, people are savvier to the health implications of sugary sodas and have begun to (slowly) replace soda consumption in their diet.
Summer is the perfect time to provide a jump-start to your system and dabble in DIY ferments. And by making small-batch tonics at home, you forgo the spendy daily habit of purchasing them at the store. On the next few pages I outline some recipes that include wild ferments (using the natural bacteria and yeast in the air and on foods), and also those that need the assist of a culture, as in the case of kombucha. All these tonics offer certain benefits, but they can vary from person to person. Experiment with a few and note how the drink works for you. And remember—tonics were historically served as small two- to four-ounce portions, often as a digestive aid, and not necessarily in the larger sixteen- to twenty-ounce portions we see in the store.
Chioggia Beet Kvass
Kvass originated in Eastern Europe. It was traditionally made with old, dry bread, which was then fermented into a tonic beverage. Variations include a similar method made with vegetables and fruits. In this version, beets are used to create an intensely nutritive beverage. Beet kvass is rich in vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, and is said to be an excellent blood and liver tonic.
3 medium to large Chioggia beets
2 organic lemons
1 3- to 4-inch piece fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Wash beets and lemons.
- Chop beets into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Cut lemons into quarters. Slice ginger into 1/4-inch rounds.
- Place all ingredients, except beets and half of 1 lemon, in a 2-quart glass container.
- Add beets and then squeeze lemon half over the mixture, adding it to the container.
- Fill container with filtered water until all ingredients are covered (water should be 1 inch or more from top of jar). Cover with a lid (not too tight).
- Allow it to sit on counter at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, “burping” the lid each day to let gas escape.
- Place jar in refrigerator for 2 to 3 more days.
- Strain liquid kvass into glass storage containers and store in fridge.
- Drink a shot each day before meals or for a cool, refreshing treat in the summertime!
- For a second steeping, refill container with filtered water and keep on counter 1 to 2 days. Strain as above and discard mixture.
Yields 1 gallon
Kombucha is a sugary, caffeinated beverage traditionally made with black tea. It is fermented with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY is placed in the sweetened tea mixture where it “eats” the sugar and creates a tangy and slightly effervescent beverage with notes of vinegar. Kombucha—with its natural caffeine and slightly sweet taste—offers a “gateway drink” to people weaning themselves off soda. It aids digestion and can assist with gout by helping the body process acid buildup. Please note: Kombucha can also be slightly alcoholic.
1 gallon filtered water
3/4 cup sugar
6 black or green tea bags (or loose-tea equivalent)
1 SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
- Obtain a SCOBY from a trusted friend or buy a starter culture online (culturesforhealth.com).
- Bring water and sugar to a boil.
- Remove from heat, add tea, and steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove tea and cool to room temperature. Place in a glass container.
- Add SCOBY to cooled tea.
- Allow it to ferment for 1 to 2 weeks in a glass container, covered with cloth.
- Store prepared kombucha in refrigerator. Drink as is or flavor with fruit juice in a secondary fermentation.
- Make a new batch with fresh SCOBY.
* Note: Make sure your SCOBY isn’t growing mold! As a preventative, add a small amount of vinegar or previous kombucha brew to the new batch.
A ginger bug begins with a mixture of sugar, ginger, and water that captures wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria. It can be used as a probiotic boost (and fizz) to herbal sodas like ginger ale, root beer, and natural fruit sodas. Ginger bugs are easy to start and can be kept in the refrigerator to later be “reactivated”—similar to a sourdough starter—for soda whenever you’d like.
1-2 whole fresh ginger roots
1/2 cup, plus more, sugar (other sweeteners will not work!)
2 cups filtered water
- Grate 2 to 3 tbsp. ginger and place in a quart-size Mason jar. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tbsp. sugar on top.
- Add filtered water, stir, and lightly cover (a coffee filter secured with a rubber band works well).
- Once daily for the next 5 days, stir the mixture and add 1 tbsp. each grated ginger and sugar. (It may take up to 8 days to create the desired culture.)
- Your bug is ready when it forms bubbles on the top, it fizzes when stirred, it becomes slightly cloudy, and it takes on a sweet and mildly yeasty smell.
- Once the ginger bug has cultured, keep it alive and continue growing it by feeding it regularly as above or “rest” it in the fridge. To reactivate, remove, let it reach room temperature, and begin feeding it 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. grated ginger per day until it’s fizzy again.
- Create fermented fruit sodas by adding 1/4 cup ginger bug starter per quart of diluted fruit juice. Place in flip-top bottles (like repurposed Grolsch beer bottles) and store in fridge.
Rejuvelacs are fermented tonic beverages made from sprouted grains, typically sprouted wheat berries. These effervescent drinks have a tangy flavor, perfect for a hot summer night. They contain beneficial bacteria, as well as beneficial digestive enzymes, and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Drop in some basil or mint sprigs before refrigerating for a drink with a twist.
1 cup wheat berries (or use rye, barley, millet, buckwheat, or quinoa)
- Soak grains in filtered water overnight or up to 24 hours. Strain and rinse.
- Transfer to a sprouting jar or glass container for 2 to 3 days, rinsing at least once daily.
- When grains sprout (a small white tail will appear), rinse well and transfer to a large glass container (quart-size Mason jars work well).
- Add 1 quart of filtered water.
- Cover and let sit on counter at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
- Check daily and watch for small bubbles to appear. Liquid should be slightly cloudy and smell pleasantly sour.
- Strain liquid into storage containers and store in fridge.
- Discard grains or, for a second steeping, refill container with filtered water and let sit for another 2 days. Repeat step 7.
- If you skip a day, no biggie. Ferments aren’t super specific.
- If mold appears on the top, scrape it off. If this happens more than once, discard and start again.
- If after 7 or 8 days the mixture hasn’t taken on the above characteristics, discard and start again.
- Keep the culture away from other cultures like sauerkraut and kombucha.
By Tibby Plasse // Courtesy photographs
Norm Goldstein believes kids have a knack for business, if you give them the chance. Founder of By Kids For Kids, an educational and family marketing company, Goldstein creates opportunities for minors to test their ideas. He believes that “kids at a certain age don’t want to be told what to do. They want to be empowered.” By taking charge of their own projects, young entrepreneurs exercise their organizational and follow-through skills while also forming a “big picture” toolset that involves decision-making, perspective, and efficacy.
Below, a few local kids—with some impressive goals—show us how it’s done:
Last year, Gigi Charette, of Victor, Idaho, was super into the American Girl series. She had been following Grace’s story about opening a delivery patisserie in France, and dreamt of the same opportunity. Simultaneously, Gigi adopted a restrictive diet at home. Her diet resulted in alternative baking so she could still enjoy sweets in the pantry. Following no-grain chef Danielle Walker’s recipes, Gigi planned a bake sale with three dessert menu options: chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and pumpkin doughnuts with maple-bacon frosting. She set up shop in front of the Knotty Pine during Victor’s Fourth of July parade and sold out! During the baking process, Gigi made sure she was precise with the recipe—too much coconut flour could cause an explosion. “It was a lot of fun,” she says, “And I earned enough to buy my own camera.”
The 4-H program, on both sides of the hill, teaches kids how to fully participate in the process of entrepreneurship and responsibility. They raise animals and keep ledgers and journals, noting their expenses and daily experiences. Their recordkeeping is then judged alongside the animals at local 4-H fairs. First-timers Cade and Garret Walz, eleven-year-old twins from Driggs, raised Hampshire pigs last summer through the Teton County 4-H. They set out with the goal of raising enough money to purchase their own dirt bikes. And while raising the bike money was great, the experience was even better. “They were awesome,” Cade says of the pigs. “We fed them two to three times a day and made sure they were taken care of,” adds Garret, as he explains the kiddie pool setup they created to keep their animals happy. The boys go back and forth as they recount the fair experience, explaining that their two busy days of cleaning and getting dressed up were fun and exciting. Even though it was daily work, the twins are looking forward to raising lambs this season.
By Kate Field // Photographs by Paulette Phlipot
It always brings a smile to my face, recalling my father in the warm June sunlight showing off his new, freshly ironed, home-sewn, tie-dye necktie. What a sport! When I was ten, I bought an old sewing machine with my paper route money, and ties were the only thing I was ever proficient at making. My father received most of these gems and—much to everyone’s surprise—continues to wear them on special occasions all these years later.
Looking back at my preteen self, I remember carefully picking out the perfect blends of Rit dye that would complement my father’s traditional navy suit. Now, I’m not sure I nailed it with my springtime pastel choices of pink and purple, but I sure tried.
Despite my close relationship with my father, finding the perfect gift for him is still a challenge. And I recently read that Father’s Day sales run far behind those of Mother’s Day. The article stated that the ideal gift is usually overbudget (think circular saw) so dad tends to buy what he wants. Below are some gift ideas that are a bit more en vogue for today’s dad than my outdated tie-dye necktie.
Your dad is going to love whatever you give him this Father’s Day. That’s just how dads are! But I find that the gift of making something special provides wonderful memories in its creation. So don’t forget to share these stories with your father, too. They will add to his enjoyment.
Cousin Morgan’s Famous Rib Rub
Makes 1 half-rack of ribs
My cousin Steve and his wife, Morgan, perfected this family recipe over the years. As a gift, bag the ingredients, wrap them in butcher paper, and tie with twine. Or, for a special night in, grab some local ribs and cook your dad a feast. Serve with salad tossed in a spring-infused vinaigrette.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika (or less to taste)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
- Preheat oven to 275° F.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup.
- Spread rub on ribs with hands.
- Cook in oven for up to 4 hours.
- Remove ribs from oven and sear on a hot grill, 2 minutes per side.
- Brush on your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Cook for a few minutes more on indirect heat on the grill.
Does your dad need a little help taking his vitamins? Disguise nutrients in a salad dressing—like the GLAs (gamma-linolenic acid) and ALAs (alpha-linolenic acid) found in various oils—to help reduce his inflammation and help curtail male pattern baldness. The addition of spring native herbs, like dandelion leaves, nettles, and horsetail, provides an additional boost of backyard super greens (you know, the ones that tend to “ruin” your father’s lawn).
For the infused vinegar:
Dandelion, nettle, or horsetail leaves
Apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”—strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria)
1-quart Mason jar
- Fill Mason jar with nutrient-rich leaves.
- Cover plant material with apple cider vinegar to the top.
- Cap the jar (I like to use a plastic lid, as vinegar will erode metal).
- Store in a dark cupboard for at least 2 weeks.
- Strain, rebottle, and label.
For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful wild or organic blueberries
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 3 sprigs)
1/3 cup infused apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey (optional)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or 1/3 each EVOO and Udo’s flax-borage seed oil blend
Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Add chopped garlic, berries, and thyme to apple cider vinegar. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain, if desired.
- Add mustard, lemon juice, sweetener, salt, and pepper.
- Add EVOO. Gently whisk or shake.
- Transfer into a recycled bottle for gifting.
- Shake before use. Store away from light.
Many mountain-town dads work and play outdoors, leaving their hair and skin exposed to the elements. And c’mon, when does your dad ever go to the spa? Treat him with products that will nourish his skin and uplift his spirits with their sweet, earthy aroma.
1 ounce jojoba oil, plus more for finishing4 drops each sandalwood, rosemary, and cedarwood essential oils
- Place 1 oz. jojoba oil in a 2-oz. amber or blue glass bottle.
- Add 1 drop of each essential oil at a time, alternating between oils so you don’t overdue it (less is more!).
- Top off the bottle with remaining jojoba oil.
- To use, place a few drops of oil in hand and massage into beard or scalp.
For the man without a beard
1/2 cup alcohol (rum, vodka, or rubbing alcohol)
1/4 cup witch hazel
10-20 drops essential oils of your choice (see beard oil list)
- Combine all ingredients in a 6- to 8-oz. glass bottle.
- To complete the gift, place either beard oil or aftershave in a travel Dopp Kit with a new razor and shaving cream.
* Note: Vanilla, lavender, sweet orange, myrrh, and cinnamon are alternate oils. Be sure the scents appeal to your dad before using.
By Mel Paradis
When we purchased our home in Tetonia, Idaho, nine years ago, you could say I was a gardening neophyte. My husband, on the other hand, had honed his green thumb cultivating alongside his grandfather and volunteering at Cosmic Apple Gardens. So as soon as spring broke, we dove right in, quickly digging up the grass to make room for potatoes, carrots, and lettuce. Neither Jeff nor I thought to write anything down; after all, we had never been responsible for our own garden before. In those first years, we had many successes and a few failures.
Every spring, I would try and recall what it was that I planted where when ordering new seeds and starts. Then, about four years into my gardening hobby, I started keeping track. And so my first foray into garden journaling began.
Journal, Take One
A “garden journal” is a loose term for a system a gardener uses to keep track of the plants in his or her garden. Garden journals can contain observations of nature’s goings-on, diaries of daily yardwork, diagrams of what is planted and harvested where and when, collections of photographs, and resources for all things garden-related. They can be as simple as scribbled notes jotted onto scrap paper and shoved alongside seed packs in a plastic container. They can also be intricate works of art—an heirloom journal, if you will—complete with hand-drawn illustrations of budding fruit plants and memories of meals made with cultivated produce.
My motto: Simplicity is the key to longevity when embarking on any new task. “Don’t overdo it. There is no right way,” shares Judy Allen of Darby Canyon Gardens. Allen, who teaches gardening classes and rents out bed space on her property, recommends, “Do what helps you become more organized and less scattered.”
Method of Sowing
First, decide on a medium that best serves you. Allen’s method of choice is an expandable file for all of her lists and notes. If you don’t quite know where to start, choose a pre-made garden journal or planner. A quick search at an online bookstore provides many options. Or go with a basic notebook dedicated to gardening to ensure all your information is in one place. For a few bucks more, a binder allows you to add sheet protectors, printouts, and new sections as needed. For the more tech-inclined cultivator, word-processing documents and spreadsheets keep your work legible and easily available with the touch of a mouse. If you prefer a visual record, take snapshots of your crops from sowing to harvesting. These photos may be kept as a personal archive or shared in online garden forums (myfolia.com) or on social media. And if you want to go big, take journaling one step further by creating your own garden blog.
What to Plant
Once you have chosen your journaling medium, the sky is the limit! Again, start simple. Think about what information is most helpful and enjoyable to have. Here are my suggestions to get you started:
- Garden Diagram: Draw an outline of your garden beds and mark where you planted certain seeds. This helps distinguish different varieties of fruits and vegetables, and will assist you in rotating crops next year.
- Weather: Every year in the Tetons is different, especially these days. Jot down the peculiars of the seasons (i.e., warm spring, hot June, plants slow to mature, first frost last week of July, Indian summer, harvested into October). Or add calendar pages to your journal to record highs, lows, precipitation, and frost.
- Plant Profiles: Record how to sow, harvest, and cure plants for future reminders. Make notes on their companions, pH requirements, and fertilization needs. Add empty seed packs to your journal.
- Pest and Disease Issues: List the types, successes, and failures of mitigation and what garden bed(s) were affected.
- Inventory and Supplies: Keep track of items such as irrigation parts for ease of reordering in the future.
- Canning Directions: If you put up any of your garden goods, keep the processing times and recipes here.
- Recipe List: Write down a list of different dishes that you made when produce was abundant. This way, it won’t go to waste due to lack of use. (This is especially helpful come zucchini season.)
- Seed Inventory: List what you have left and where it was purchased so that ordering and plotting out next year’s garden goes smoothly.
- End of Season Wrap-up: Take a note of what worked, what didn’t, and what you would change in the future. Give your plants grades, like Chioggia beets, A; Santee broccoli, D.
After years of trial and error, I found that a three-ring binder best suits my needs. I’ve divided it into certain sections that I can’t live without: bed diagrams, companion planting printouts, end-of-season wrap-up, and seed inventory. That may change. Each year, I notice details in my diagrams and notes that were superfluous and realize other bits of information went untracked. And that’s what I like most about gardening. It is ever-evolving. Someday, I’ll have the time and energy to create an heirloom journal, complete with watercolors and stories. Until then, I will develop my three-ring binder to include the bare necessities, and hope that it helps me cultivate more successes and fewer failures.
Make it an Heirloom!
An heirloom is an object passed from generation to generation. Coincidentally, an heirloom seed is a traditional variety of seed that has been hand-selected for certain traits and is unaltered from its origins. An heirloom garden journal combines these two ideas: It is a journal for horticulturists to keep track of their gardens’ teachings, and to share—or pass down—that knowledge in a beautiful way. An heirloom journal provides an artistic look back on the garden once it has been put to bed.
Step 1: Be a Good Reporter
Take notes on your garden throughout the growing season. Photograph what you are growing and cooking. Make notes on recipes cooked and meals shared for later reflection. Collect flowers and save your favorite seed packets.
Step 2: Be an Editor
At the end of the season, decide what information from your notebook is most relevant and interesting.
Step 3: Choose your Book
The length of your book will depend on how many growing seasons it covers. Choose a paper journal with a heavy-duty cover that can be purchased through a bookstore or scrapbook supplier. Or, if you have the time, bind your own book by sourcing artsy instructions on Pinterest. Decide on the material for your cover and the number of pages. Buy quality paper and other needed supplies at a craft store.
Step 4: Get Artsy
Draw or paint pictures of your vegetables and flowers. Use these drawings as cover pages for various sections. List your veggies and fruits in order of best to least productive. Glue on pressed flowers as page decorations. And print out images of your plants (see Step 1) from seedling to harvest. Paste a packet of your seed on one page, complete with a photograph and notes about this favorite variety.
Step 5: Get Literary
Next to a photograph of an especially beautiful zucchini, paste another shot of the zucchini bread you made and a recipe card to go with. Share the story of the dinner party you threw midsummer, including who was there and what you made from the garden.
Spiced Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
4 small eggs or 3 large eggs
4 cups zucchini, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9x5-inch bread pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, spices, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Beat sugars, vanilla, oil, and eggs in a large bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to moist ingredients and stir to mix.
- Place zucchini in a towel and squeeze to remove moisture. Add zucchini to batter and stir to mix.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
By Alex White
I still recall my first steps through the camp’s entrance and onto the soft, dusty pathway lined with pine needles and shaded in towering Northern California redwoods. Around me, other arriving campers excitedly ran to hug one another and recount memories from previous summers they had shared. I knew no one, and felt out of place as I shuffled my way to the lodge for check-in. Every ounce of my adolescent awkwardness seemed to hit me at once during that seemingly endless walk. Still, I managed to reach the lodge, petrified of what was to come.
From there started a two-week journey of adventure, connection, development, and discovery. I spent my first night in the backcountry, hiked my first (and second and third) mile under a heavy pack, braved my first lightning storm, cooked my first meal, and even had my first kiss. Through all of these experiences—the awkward and awesome—I got to know myself, independent of my day-to-day life, school, family, friends, and routine.
Many years have passed since that camp experience, yet I still note its influence on my life. Not only do I live in a beautiful place full of outdoor adventure, but I’ve also had the opportunity to plan and facilitate meaningful summer experiences for other young people. I like working with adolescents because I’ve seen how a summer experience can influence their lives. And while fun is undeniably an important part of summer programming for teens, there is added opportunity to create a powerful and fulfilling experience, different from any other.
Adolescence is the time when kids become people. As a child, your parents have total control over the world you live in. They decide whether you ski the Village or watch cartoons on a Saturday morning. They decide if you eat Big Macs or vegetables for dinner. They decide whether you solve problems by yelling and screaming, or by talking it out.
Parenting an adolescent is less about control and more about guiding support. During this time, which experts say spans from ten to nineteen years of age, teens and tweens draw on the influences of childhood to develop their independent selves. Rather than trying to fight the natural process, you should saddle up and roll with it by providing your teen with a meaningful summer program where he or she can exercise independence and exploration. Consider the following summer camp benefits before going the course:
A sleepover summer camp may be your kid’s first time spending the night away from you. This is a good thing—allowing them the opportunity to see themselves as true individuals. It’s up to them to be either the person who leads others along the trail, or puts up the tent, or checks in with a struggling teammate, or tells jokes around the campfire. Personalities emerge in situations where they are separated from you.
It was during my first summer at camp that I discovered my passion for the outdoors. Without that experience, I may never have arrived at a life in Jackson.
In a small, remote town such as ours, there are limited opportunities for young people to expand their peer groups. Many have had the same set of friends since elementary school. Together they’ve trick-or-treated, raised pigs, ski raced, and stayed up late watching movies and eating popcorn. While these friendships are important, there are also benefits to spending time with new people. When placed in a new environment, the girl who is usually quiet at school or home may have an affinity for telling improvised ghost stories, complete with disguised voices and sound effects—who knows?
During the closing ceremony of a boys’ backpacking trip that I led, one mother said, “I can’t get my son to hike fifty feet, and you just got him to hike the Teton Crest Trail!” To me, this woman’s realization about her son made sense. By refusing to hike with his mother, this boy was not saying, “I hate hiking.” He was simply saying, “I want to hike with my friends.” Providing opportunities for your teen to develop knowledge, skills, and experiences among his or her peers, rather than with you, makes them far more likely to engage with you in the future. Summer programs provide a great opportunity for this.
Relationships with Staff
Although they may act like it, teens really don’t have all the answers. And sometimes they abstain from reaching out to you with their questions. It’s not because they don’t trust your guidance, it’s just because you’re their parent. Rather than reminiscing over the days when you came to the rescue, instead offer them an opportunity to develop supportive relationships with other adults. Among these mentors are coaches and, of course, camp counselors. A supportive relationship with even just one nonparent adult helps teens develop the personal strength and resiliency to weather the most significant struggles.
A Break from Achievement
Teens are faced more and more with the pressures of achievement. In high school, grades and test scores suddenly carry daunting influence over their futures. Athletics hold a similar preoccupation with performance, as winning or college admission becomes the major priority rather than sportsmanship, teamwork, or even fun. Summer programs can offer a break from the stress of achievement. They give young people an opportunity to pursue interests rather than goals, and experiences rather than outcomes. Sure, the pressures are still present, but summertime can serve as a well-deserved break.
A Chance to Unplug
Even here in the Tetons we are not immune from the digitalization of our culture. Summer camps provide an increasingly rare opportunity for teens to step outside and unplug. The benefits are significant, to say the least. Time spent outdoors promotes physical activity, healthy development, and overall wellness. Is your teen having trouble sleeping? Research suggests that one week of sleeping outside can reset natural melatonin levels and circadian rhythm, returning individuals to a more natural sleep cycle. Time in nature can even help alleviate symptoms of mental health issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Now that we agree on the far-reaching benefits of summer programs for adolescents, how do we engage them in it?
This progress toward adulthood sometimes presents a staunch refusal to participate in anything that reeks of parental involvement. So first, exclude the phrases, “You’ll thank me one day,” or “When I was your age …” from the negotiation repertoire. You can, however, say, “Doing nothing is not an option.” Yet, despite its seeming finality, this phrase should be a conversation starter rather than the end. Act curious. And remember, you’ll have much better luck asking, “What would you like to do?” instead of telling them what to do. The more involvement teens have in the organization of their summer, the more engaged they will be.
Lastly, sometimes parents—as well as kids—get hung up on the idea of a summer job. Of course there are benefits to professionally oriented pursuits, but I suggest finding a balance between work and levity. Teens have their whole lives to work, and summers don’t last forever.
By Julie Butler // Photography by Ryan Jones
Few children get the chance to interact with world-class art whenever they want—unless, of course, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is located in their backyard. This unique museum offers kids the opportunity to view art as well as participate in creating it through a mini art studio in the children’s gallery. Weekly and monthly kid-friendly programs allow young artists to go, well, wild!
Fables, Feathers, and Fur, offered for free on Wednesday mornings (for children ages three to six), engages kids through storytelling and art making. Museum staff members take turns reading picture books with a wildlife theme, such as A Tower of Giraffes and How Snowshoe Hare Rescued the Sun. Maureen Faris, of Jackson, regularly brings her two daughters to the program. “The girls love coming here,” Faris says. “They get to hear stories and create art with a variety of materials.”
On a recent Wednesday, Faris’ daughters, Phoebe, four, and Daisy, two, settled themselves onto comfy pillows in the gallery to listen to storyteller Jane Lavino, curator of education and exhibits. Before reading A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet, Jane spoke with the children about the painting she was sitting beneath, explaining what it represented and pointing out a greater prairie chicken.
After the interactive storytime, Phoebe darted into the classroom to tackle the day’s art project. She gathered bits of sage and local grasses to place into a small glass orb while stating, “I made a mermaid tail and a black-footed ferret puppet,” referring to some of her previous works. Phoebe also enjoys the studio, where she likes to “cut and mush the clay” into a version of her own sculptures. And both girls have canvases hanging on their bedroom walls, along with paper wildflowers, that they painted during an earlier session.
“It’s a complete experience,” Faris says. “You see wildlife on the way past the refuge, you get here and the animal sculptures welcome you, you go inside and you’re amongst all of this great art, and then you do an art project. It’s a low-commitment, high-reward program.”
Other NMWA Kid Offerings:
Monarch of the Plains Exhibit: Through May 8, kids can create cardboard bison masks with colored pencils. They are encouraged to either take their masks home or leave them for others to enjoy.
Open Studio: This summer’s exhibit highlights the National Park Service’s centennial with an all-ages art-making space. From June 18 to August 18, the museum will display vintage national park posters and hold screen-printing, postcard-making, and plein-air-esque activities.
First Sundays: A family friendly day held on the first Sunday of the month from November through April (mark your calendar). Jackson Elementary School kindergartner Porter Farren has been coming up to the program since he was a toddler. “He really enjoys everything,” says his father, David. “From looking at the pictures, to the sculptures, to the paintings—he’s starting to appreciate it all.”