Uncommon Ground

First Freeze

Montanans need someone in Washington who clearly understands the issues and problems facing the people of our great state

They wake up early. The ruckus is heard all the way at the farmhouse. It’s that time of year. The geese again congregated on Blanchard Lake. Multiple skeins have recently flown over the farm.

Walking up the hill, I stopped at the dewdrops that had frozen solidly onto the chokecherry trees. It’s the first freeze of fall. We’ve had frost earlier. This was a freeze.

A freeze sweetens apples, plums and chokecherries. The birds know it. Waves of robins ripped off most of the berries. Only the lower, the more astringent cherries remain.

I tasted the bitter berry. Past the skin, it’s sweet.

Fighting with pests this year was big. The kale aphids and ground squirrels were active. Still, that’s better than the constant fighting of Congress.

Back in Washington, they’re routinely arguing about stupid stuff, like whether a hungry child or poor veteran deserves a couple dollars to pay for a meal. It feels so pointless.

Farms and people across the valley donate food and money to local pantries. Many of us walking down the street would happily give a stranger a couple bucks for a meal. It’s worth like half a pint of beer or coffee. Yet that’s too much for an uncompassionate Congress.

Curiously we allow identity politics to rule with teams like liberal versus conservative, boys versus girls, or Libertarians versus Republicans versus Democrats.

We’re all Montanans and proud of it.

Is political power so important, so addictive, that it supersedes basic human decency?

Most of us remain united by similar values. We want our kids to prosper, to have more opportunity that we did.

We want good jobs with decent wages. We need proper healthcare. Lower taxes are better taxes.

We rely on our federal programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and our military. We personify security, liberty and freedom.

We want our public lands open, our water clean and accessible.

We love our towns, our communities and neighborhoods. We’d do most anything for most anyone.

We build schools and libraries. We support our teachers, police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses and dentists.

We love to recreate. We get outdoors. We live for it.

We’re big fans of public trails and conservation. Our way of life defines why we choose to live in rural Montana. There’s no better place on the planet to live.

It’s a great valley and one heck of a state.

But partisans are a loud bunch, hollering for the sport of it. Acting like teams with a familiar story.

What Montanans need in Washington is someone who clearly understands the issues and problems facing the people of our great state.

No one, no party, controls all the answers. We need others. We’re not alone. We know this locally, where plenty of good stuff is happening.

At our best we’re kind to others. Remind your friends to vote.

That includes Millennials. The under-40 crowd is the largest voting block around. They would control the future if they would vote.

We Boomers are way more consistent voters than our younger counterparts. We’ve learned that our future is tied to every vote.

Not many are undecided on how to vote. We either like where we’re headed or we think we need more balance, regardless of the barrage of negative ads, flyers, or calls.

The season changed. Make a decision to vote for whomever you think best helps your family, our state and nation move forward.

We need to move forward. Only voters can balance our future.

The weather was hot and smoky before it was cold and rainy. Previously it was a historic snow year. Yet this fall feels full of promise.

First freeze always steals some life off the farm. Soon enough, that meandering cold will finalize its ghostly work.