Stuff I Can’t Fit Into a U-Haul

Dedicated to the Free Range Writers of Missoula, Montana


Black bears and back alley compost bins 

Rogue apple trees in the Bitterroots 

The dead raccoons hanging from branches

Shootings stars, lupine, and phlox 

Cultural appropriation

Ponderosa sap tucked in the cracks

Air so dry, you can leave Saltines out for days

Post pandemic emissions 

Embedded isms 

Tanking oil prices

A withered EPA

Columbia slimy sculpins 

Braided streams

Beers at the Union Club instead of a lecture

Osprey and ravens

Sunrise over Sentinel 

The scrap metal horse on the North Side 

The deer I skinned with another man 

The laughter of sandhill cranes 

Mud and clog dancing 

RVs in various states of decay

Massive wildfires 

Cosmic ponderings with friends 

The songs and stories of my students 

The pressing questions of mentors 

A skyline with places for the eyes to rest 

Lolo peak in the morning, the afternoon – anytime of day

Ancient shorelines 

Hoar frost on barbed wire

-20 degree dawns

Wood smoke and bacon grease 

Art galleries nestled in pocket-sized towns

Shoes littering our den during potlucks

Cut grass, marijuana, and fabric softener commingling on evening walks

Sticky cottonwood buds along the Clark Fork

Surfers followed by tubers followed by unicorn floaties 

The Roxy Theater and the dusky gold light along Higgins

Cupcakes from Bernices

The pig snout shared with a parishioner

Butterfly Herbs and all the characters

The cedar forest in Idaho 

The giddy sound of hail on my tent 

The wind out of Hellgate and all the untold narratives

Impromptu social protests 

Howling from a public library rooftop 

The Missouri River between Coal Banks and Judith Landing

The spine of the Swan Range

Larch needles that stick to your bare feet

Oyster happy hour 

Post-holing Georgetown Lake 

Zero-fare buses and the drivers who minister to passengers

The whack of the softball against the bat 

The dentist who teaches me how to breathe so I don’t pass out in his chair

An endless supply of rainbow pencils from the stationary shop

The Front Range of the Rockies 

Blowtorch dinners with friends

Pronghorn tacos 

All the cobbles in Glacier 

Wheat Montana – so chewy and perfect

A walkable community to wander aimlessly 

Drive-thru coffee stands I never visit 

Mooning the moon with students 

The elk on Jumbo

The words, I think you’ll be back

The night Kevin and David played guitar together

Ponds without water moccasins

Wolf lichen clumped on a snag 

The mountain lion I’ve never seen



4 thoughts on “Stuff I Can’t Fit Into a U-Haul

  1. ❤️ Awakening my senses that cause me to realize some things that I will probably miss experiencing in life, but, so happy to have read your writings, knowing you have…❤️🙏🏻

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. I really enjoy your writing. When you come back I’ll buy you cupcakes from Bernice’s. They’re my favorite too.


  3. Joanna, so glad to see your writing.
    I hope you are all settled in on the mountain.
    I would like to visit with you about an upcoming project of the Ozark Society Foundation. We are establishing an annual prize for a nature manuscript or published book, and I think you would be a great person to bounce some ideas off of. Very open as to kinds of book (fiction, creative nonfiction, history.) You might actual have something for our consideration, but we are also going to need a contest judge.
    We have not been in touch since Rough Sort of Beauty was published, but I very much appreciated your encouagement at that time. Would be great to hear from you.
    Dana Steward


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