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Mountain Home Magazine

When the Stars Align

Aug 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard

Change will happen. We know it. We resist it. Sometimes we get lucky, and everyone ends up happy, as if there is some celestial or divine plan. The Mountain Home family recently went through such a change.

Our operations manager, Gwen Button, who had been handling layout and design since 2016, has taken another job with a family business. She kindly gave us a month to find a replacement, still it was hard to imagine putting the magazine together without her. Amy Packard, accounts manager, remembers, “she was quick to connect with us as a team, steadily working but always had time to crack jokes.” On deadline, that’s a gift. But Gwen also had attention to detail and real talent. How long would it take to train someone to take over? After all, those of us in the office knew what Gwen did but not how she did it.

As Teresa and I pondered the dilemma, my mind fixed on a photographer we’d used a few times recently for cover stories, probably because we’d just picked his photo as the Back of the Mountain feature for May. I met Wade Spencer, originally from Ogdensburg but now living in Wellsboro, when I worked one season for Pine Creek Outfitters. Wade enjoys whitewater paddling, mountain biking, and hiking (the latter with his girlfriend, Sonya, and Vee, their pittie-mix), and has been a weekend warrior raft guide and safety boater at PCO for years. It was talking to Wade while he was repairing bikes in the PCO garage that I discovered his career was in media, and he freelanced doing photography and videos for the music industry. So, I begged him to take my son’s senior photos. Watching him at work—his control of lighting, eye for composition, and ability to get an unforced smile from this kid—well, I was impressed.

We tapped his skills for the November 2022 cover story on hunter Janice Cavanaugh and the February 2023 cover story “Rye Rebels.” Then his action shot of paddling Pine Creek caught our eye. So, I asked him, “I know you use Photoshop, but do you know InDesign?”—the software we use for all our layout. Turns out he did. I told Teresa. And then, like when you click a button and the design elements line up, everything snapped into place. Perfect alignment.

Gwen spent a few days training Wade in the top secret behind-the-scenes machinations of Mountain Home design, and then we pushed him out of the nest, to fly solo with the July issue. Let me tell you, he soared.

Then he tells us that May wasn’t his first Back of the Mountain feature. On his phone he pulls up a screen shot of May 2013, for which he’d written the title: Aurora Wellsborealis (above). So, the stars had given us a sign back then.

God speed, Gwen. Welcome, Wade.

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