Get Along

When individuals work together they’ll often produce a product more likely to withstand the harshness of time

By Mike Jopek

The sunshine sparked through the icicles as the frozen crystals hung onto the cold metal roof. They curved inward, dangled toward the windows like they were tired of the constant pull of gravity. Water dripped off the tips.

I broke one off with the handle of the broom that I had used to sweep the snow from the pathway headed out the back door. It crashed onto the hard ground under the eves where no real snow had yet accumulated.

Winter arrives this weekend, days before Christmas. Soon, daytime again starts getting longer. But before that’s noticeable, there’s plenty of wintertime to enjoy.

The woodstove has been on since our return from sunny Florida. It acted hungry for the split spruce logs like it hadn’t eaten for a while.

It’s that time of year when the pets get along better. They learned that sharing the warm spots of the farmhouse require a bit of cooperation and compromise.

The little farm dog is a scrapper. Won’t give but an inch of ground. Knows right from wrong. Real set in his ways. But on cold nights, he’ll lay next to the enemy as both the dog and the farm cat share the warmth of a hot woodstove.

It’s in their interest to get along. Without cooperation, they’d both be tossed outside. And there’s wet snow and cold out there.

A lot of mornings the cat meows its way to the sound of the coffee grinder as freshly roasted beans are poured into a dented steel bistro.

The cat seemingly knows that good coffee needs some milk. It watches me pour the hot water into the bistro. Purrs louder, rubs against my ankles, trying to tell me to share the milk.

The cat hardly ever finishes its milk. It just wants a taste, a spot of milk to soothe the palate.

About an hour into morning the little dog gets up, prances on the wood floor with hard toenails, alerting the house that he’s awake. That dog immediately finds the cat’s leftover milk.

As the first light appears on the horizon, both the little dog and the big dog want out. They’ve been sequestered all evening. They have a basic need to bark at the dawn like they are trying to scare back the wildlife that intruded into the yard overnight.

The cat remains huddled on table, by the window. To him it’s winter, early and cold, with milk and affirmation already in hand.

Two weeks from now, 150 state lawmakers arrive in Helena to debate thousands of policy proposals that they’ve brought from their hometowns for consideration in the 2019 Montana Legislature.

The four-month legislative session will see plenty of pet bills, which fund something. Legislators refer to them as cat and dogs. Cat and dogs might get appropriated into the state budget. They often stand alone, seeking a way to the floor for debate.

There’ll be plenty of infighting about cat and dog bills.

Locals figured out this compromise stuff a while ago. Sure we disagree, but we stand up for what’s right in our community. We’re like family. We’re in this community together. It’s a part of why we live in the Flathead, in Montana.

Over time, throughout our valley, as people wanted to get stuff done they’d work with others, talk to fellow citizens.

When individuals work together they’ll often produce a product more likely to withstand the harshness of time. Trust is key. It takes time. Getting to know one another helps get stuff done.

Take some time to find the winter joy within the Flathead this season. Carry that civility forward into a new year. There’s a lot of work to do in 2019. Today, enjoy the celebration. Ho ho ho.

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