Getting to Know Alison Downey
In 1975, Alison’s parents decided to move from West Hartford, Connecticut to Kaikoura — a then, quiet town in New Zealand. Her dad could fill a work exchange position as the town’s veterinarian, and her mom could explore and paint a new and beautiful landscape. Ali and her older brother, Todd would benefit and grow living in a new culture.
After just a few months in Kaikoura, Alison (two years old) toddled over to the neighbor’s, joined company with their big, yellow lab, Ra and set out on an excursion towards the sea.
They made it about half way, when Ali’s mom called the “party line” to alert the town that they were missing. It took no time for the good people of Kaikoura to find the toddler with her friend, Ra following a stream to the sea, collecting rocks and shells.
Alison continued to search for treasures, antiquing back in New England where she spent her kindergarten through 12 grade years. After college, she alternated between: teaching, working as a ranger/naturalist in Glacier National Park and traveling/trekking in Asia, Europe and North & South America.
She combined her loves of people, art and mountaineering. “I was so lucky to have those experiences and meet fascinating people – strangers that acted like old friends on the trek in the Himalaya’s. We arrived at one hostel and the host started laughing and hitting me like we were old school friends. Then she tried to trade with me for my mittens and foam sleeping mat. Another time in Rome, a Nun, where I spent the night, hid my passport to see how I’d react…she said, I’d handled it better than most girls. And leading many, trusting visitors through Glacier’s grizzly bear country was always exciting. We did encounter many bears but the visitors always did what I said and everyone remained calm and safe…even if that wasn’t the way I was feeling.”
Eventually, Alison settled into a cute Bungalow in Columbia Falls, Montana. She planted a perennial garden with the help of her friends, two big dogs and little cat, Pickles.
Landscaping for a friend’s business had become her summer time morning work, while hostessing for the restaurant up the road (and providing their flower arrangements) became her evening company.
She enjoyed all the people she met from different areas – guessing where they were from and what their zodiac sign was…which with practice, she became pretty good at.
Although it was in teaching kindergarten for 15 years that really helped her understand people and how to help them. She enjoyed teaching other grades as well but kindergarten was her favorite. “It was so endearing on Parent/Teacher conference night…parents would be so nervous, especially with their first born. But they would go home comforted, hopeful and happy. That was a golden time in education when we could put on class plays: Snow White, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and still have time for water-color painting after reading, writing and arithmetic.”
Writing has been a part of Alison’s life ever since she can remember. Her first cursive word by accident was: car (she was 5). Her family was driving to her great grandma’s farm house in Scottsburg, Indiana. Ali usually has pen and paper handy. So in college, she made English (basically writing classes) her major. Her favorite professor was her persuasive writing class teacher. Her first writing assignment was returned to her with: “not the assignment.” Her final persuasive piece about how love is an emotion that can’t be fought (she had a crush on a classmate) got an A+. And she was told… “I never give an A+.”
For more information, Alison can be reached at (406) 249-3217 or
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