July always smells like leather and feels like sweat, or at least that’s how it is in my little world. It’s the summit of the yearly climb for my husband and I—the season we bust our tails for.

A few months ago, we headed north in a rainstorm to pick up a new-to-us horse trailer. It was rusted through in some spots and our long journey home with it in tow was a white-knuckle-nervous-laugh kind of drive, wondering if we had taken on a little too much more than we could handle.

Through the weeks that followed, in the continued rain and wind, we hid behind handkerchiefs through metal grinding and sat on the porch some nights—covered in the remnants—just to look at the small progress we’d made that day, imagining all the camping trips we’d be able to take during this beloved month of ours. Before long, our rust bucket was glowing white with a brand new coat of paint. Its holes were all patched up and the inside smelled of fresh sawdust. It just needed a little love!

This issue reminds me of that ambitious project. The stories within these pages are about the ambition and perseverance that comprise our histories. They are testaments to our abilities and our faith. I hope they are a reminder to bite off more than you can chew, to laugh at yourself before you laugh at others, and to take chances on your passions. 

I’m also tremendously excited to finally run an “Our Contributors” feature on most of the people who make this publication what it is. There have been countless laughs at our Missoula office, some head-scratching for ideas, and dozens of times where the energy exploded over a cover image or the perfect harmony of words. For some of us, this is our life’s work. For others, it’s a guilty pleasure that we are called to make time for. And none of it would be worth it if our community wasn’t so rich in personality, grit, and mesmerizing truths. Thank you, Missoula!