Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Pretty Great Valley

It’s easy to see why people love the Flathead

The yellow flowers encompassed the entire shrub. The three-lobed leaves were on branches that reached 10 feet tall. There was a fragrance to the air.

Plenty of hummingbirds and bumblebees an inch long were working the golden currant. They were hard at it, busy chirping, buzzing about in circles, and all the while eating. Their wings flapped so fast, the sounds were distinct.

We stood near the shrub. The bees and hummers thought it was theirs. They let us know it and buzzed by. They didn’t seem all that excited about each other either. The red-throated one chased the others off, then to the adjacent linden tree, and back.

They’ve been at it all week. It’s been sunny and warm and blooms are out. The vigor and vitality of their duty is impressive. Soon the flowers will spring deep orange berries.

We’ve opened our farm for the season. It’s been one heck of a start to spring. First the snow was late leaving, and then the teen temperatures set plants back. But here we go anyway. The season arrived.

I’m nearly prepared for the hum of summer when millions of economy-driving tourists descend upon our towns and valley to spend money. The time is here. Valley wide, businesses and workers are ready to earn their livelihoods.

The buzz of the highways coming into and out of towns can be heard miles away. One would have to travel deep into the woods not to hear the traffic from the thousands of cars, millions of annual visitors, travelling up and down our public roadways.

Luckily for people living in the Flathead, it’s a month to summertime and the valley is big. Some stay at home, in their yard. Mow the lawn. Turn the garden. Relax. Seed some seeds and plant some plants. Some venture further outdoors.

It takes but minutes to get to a public trailhead in the tri-cities of the Flathead. And getting out of town to a mountaintop, a small lake, or river remains accessible. The Flathead is big, over 3 million acres. It’s a spectacular home, full of opportunity and promise.

It’s easy to see why people love the Flathead. It’s got a lot to offer. The business climate is good and the public schools are great. The winter was a bit long.

So, what are you doing to make it all better? It’s a question that merits your consideration. I mean, you’re living here for a reason. You could live anywhere. You must kind of like it. It looks like you’re staying. Make some good stuff happen.

It’s your town, your valley, your schools, kids and businesses. Really, no one but you can assure that your valley, neighborhoods and places keep getting better and remains a nice place to live, a decade or two down the road.

If you’re like me, you’re probably working pretty hard. Time means a lot. And making time seems hard. Never mind free time.

But keep doing it. Volunteer and get active as you can. We’re seeing some very good stuff happen valley wide. People are clearly engaged and wanting to make a difference.

I’m hopeful that the tri-cities and the county start working together again to address some of the big needs of a valley that’s over 5,000 square miles, full of abundance, and growing like mad.

The issues we face in the Whitefish area are similar to the growing issues that people living in Columbia Falls, Kalispell, and rural Flathead each face.

The infrastructural challenges and business opportunities that come along with three million economy-driving tourists annually visiting the area, fueling our towns and businesses, are valley wide. People, it seems, just like to recreate in our Great Outdoors.