Giving thanks

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While I’m often heard cursing the sea of Mason jars that flood my countertops this time of year, out of the other side of my mouth I’m also offering gratitude. Gratitude for the abundance that comes my way each and every fall. The mountains of western Montana provide multitudes of huckleberries for tart jam and my garden yields an amazing amount of produce that will line the walls of my pantry in glass jars. I also give thanks for the opportunity to sit in the sage brush of Montana’s Big Hole country glassing the hillsides for antelope. And I must not take for grated the wonder of wandering through a dripping wet forest that glows with the stunning gold of the changing larch, searching for turkey, elk and deer on cold autumn mornings.
We’ve reached the time of year where we pause to offer thanks for the people and the opportunities around us. As the saying goes, “No (wo)man is an island,” and the run-up to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays offers us the opportunity to acknowledge all that contributes good to our lives.
As most already know, former OWAA Executive Director Sylvia Bashline passed away in late September after a battle with cancer. There are many in our organization who hold the highest admiration and gratitude for Sylvia’s contributions to OWAA during the decade she spent at the association’s helm from 1984 to 1994.
As a whole, OWAA has another reason to continue our thanks to Sylvia and Jim Bashline. In the weeks prior to her passing, Past Presidents Rich Patterson and Tom Huggler, along with OWAA Treasurer Jack Ballard, worked with Sylvia and her family to establish the Sylvia and Jim Bashline Writers Fund. The Fund’s purpose is to recognize the great contributions by Sylvia and Jim in support of outdoor communicators and of OWAA, and to provide a vehicle for continuation of such support. Annually, the Endowment Trustees can disperse up to 5 percent of the Fund. Disbursements may support OWAA workshops and annual conferences, as well as the association’s operations and general budget, including publication costs, and staff salaries and training.
Sylvia was a beacon of light in OWAA’s history, and her family shared news of how honored she was by the establishment of the Fund. Please take time to read remembrances from several OWAA past presidents, as well as a letter of thanks from her daughters on page 15. If you wish to make a contribution to the Sylvia and Jim Bashline Writers Fund (or any of OWAA’s endowment funds), you may do so at, or send your contribution to OWAA, 615 Oak Street, Suite 201, Missoula, MT 59801. Please make checks payable to OWAA.
Sponsorships and donations to OWAA’s events and programs summon thanks throughout the year. In the Association Update on page 14, you’ll see the most recent list of donors from the past two months. But the extra contributions that help keep our home fires burning can never reap enough thanks. Not only do members’ and supporters’ annual dues go a long way toward financing OWAA’s programs, publications and overhead expenses, these donations really help drive home the feeling that the organization is making a difference in the lives of our members. Many, many thanks to those listed not only in this month’s issue of OU, but to all those who have written that extra check or clicked on that Voluntary Contributions link on the website this year.
Of course, donations and sponsorships are not the only reason we’re grateful. From the funny stories we listen to over the phone, to the emails and pictures we get in our inboxes, to the thank you cards we receive from McDowell Scholarship recipients and Norm Strung Youth Writing Award winners… More than anything else, we’re grateful for you, our members and supporters, who we serve throughout the year.
Thank you for supporting OWAA. ♦
—OWAA Executive Director Robin Giner,

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