Uncommon Ground

No Time

There’s so much work outside that still needs to get done before the snow falls and the valley, once again, calms back down

It’s hard to believe. It’s the middle of July. Time just keeps zipping onward. The days are again getting shorter. But before the best season of the year ascends upon the Flathead, it’s time to enjoy summer. Get out there.

Choosing a season as the best is clearly controversial. It’s hard to go wrong in the Flathead. The weather though, has a mind of its own. This year feels reminiscent of a time, long ago when rains routinely blessed the valley.

Everything was late this year on the farm. The season was slow to develop but feels like the warmer weather is here. Maybe the rains continue to keep us cool and the ground moist.

Much on the farm is waiting. The cold start coupled with a double dose of righteous hail set many area farms back. Yet we persist, like most farmers. We work outdoors in all sorts of weather.

Thirty plus years ago, we moved to Whitefish as kids out of college full of life, vigor, and ideology. Land was cheap and wages were poor. People were kind and that has not changed.

Then the dump along the highway between Whitefish and Kalispell seemed flatter. There was no mountain of buried stuff. The landfill keeps expanding and the entrance line to get in to throw out your trash is long, seemingly every time.

Taxpayers have funded the landfill development. Yet it’s not like the locals are the ones who owned all that trash. The power of tourism with its tens of millions of visitors over time and a strong construction economy has furnished the building blocks of this hill.

According to the county’s website, 288 million pounds of waste were disposed at the landfill last fiscal year. It says that’s a 24 percent increase over the prior year. Project these kinds of numbers out a few decades and it will be time to name the mountain at the sanitary landfill.

The Flathead County landfill is clearly one of the most scenic in the nation. The view from on top is phenomenal. Moab, Utah won the most scenic dump award way back when. Even then I thought we had them beat.

The Flathead dump spends over $5 million annually on personal services and operation expenditures. It’s a big operation funded by property taxpayers who do our part to keep the valley clean and safe.

Soon the dump gulls will be roaming the valley, high in the sky, riding the heat thermals of the fall. It’s a sight that reminds me of beaches, of younger times roaming the seashores.

My brothers and I walked the beaches daily to get to the motel where mom had a summer job to help pay the bills and pass the time. It seems like yesterday and it seems like another lifetime. We spent those summers in the water and riding dirt bikes.

But here we are today; it’s a hot July day nearly 50 years later. Much of my youthful ideology seems overtaken in age by pragmatism. It just is a transition. Maybe it will come back. I know plenty of older idealists.

I find much hope in today’s younger generation. The idealism is great. The voices are strong and unapologetic. Put it into play. Get active and decide where our valley and towns are headed. Soon it’s election time. If youth always voted, it would be a different world with different voices.

But who knows? If the weather nationwide gets much weirder even us older people are sure to take note.

For me, on the farm, it’s a busy time. There’s so much work outside that still needs to get done before the snow falls and the valley, once again, calms back down.