Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Pray for Sun

Work the yard, care for the family, safely hike, read a book, and cook lots of real food

Outside the snow thunder booms and graupel pummels the ground. It sounds like springtime. I remind myself to remain vigilant on how much we plant outdoors.

The next morning, it’s April Fools’ Day, 10 degrees outside, with a northeast wind. It feels a long way to June, before summer warmth.

Many locals have been at home for nearly a month – some for several weeks, others just a couple. There’s no doubt that sheltering in place slows the spread of the deadly, contagious virus thereby giving healthcare workers time.

Many small businesses in our towns have been wiped out with employees laid off. The feds say help is on the way. Time will tell. They’ve earned their track record. There is much suffering for the self-employed, workers, and everybody living in the Flathead.

Social media has been active. Locals sought connections letting others know what’s going on and how people are doing. Many are online sometimes crying, laughing, or yelling. My posts read like stages of grief. Time feels abnormal.

I was FaceTiming with mom and she recounted a previous time she was forced to shelter in place during the war. She knows the taste of scarcity, the enduring inability to communicate with relatives, and the terror of falling bombs.

Three quarters of a century later mom shelters with a pantry of food, a puzzle on the table, video streaming, and she’s sewing masks for the local hospital by the hundred.

Facebook friends are active. I’ve engaged people asking if they like being at home, beyond the whole economic collapse and worldwide pandemic thing. I ask friends to donate cash to the food bank in town.

Everyone who has a home seems to enjoy being there to cook food, raise kids, work the yard, or hike safely on our public trails.

These days are built for leadership. Montana’s governor has done a good job keeping us as safe as possible. The Whitefish mayor has been proactive, providing multiple local updates. Leaders offer calm, realistic, and steady hands.

The virus of 100 years ago killed 50 million of the world’s 2 billion people. Today’s planet has multiple times the population. Back then people wore masks. The towns that sheltered fared significantly better, less people died, less people suffered.

Back on Facebook, Chris asked, “What good will come from this? Will healthcare become more robust? Will our leadership represent the values that made this country what it is? Will we elect those leaders who can plan for disasters and lead us through them? Or will we just return to the status quo of an incredibly unbalanced society?”

Everyone wonders about the future. How will we reenter society? When can we start earning a living again? How much pain is enough?

Nurses and paramedics are wondering how they will get through the day’s workload safely. Are they earning hazard pay yet? The heroes that serve us live interwoven in our community.

A world war and two-years worth of coronavirus preceded the Roaring Twenties and subsequent Great Recession. A lot of Montanans died from the past virus, more suffered. People not wearing masks in public were called dangerous slackers.

As I wrote this, a giant 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck over 300 miles south on Highway 93 in Idaho. The quake was felt in Calgary. It must have sensed the thundering graupel from earlier in the afternoon.

It’s early spring, a long way to summer. Work the yard, care for the family, safely hike, read a book, and cook lots of real food. Pray for sun.

Sheltering and sunshine would ease today’s monster. Be kind and do good work. Stay safe and don’t get complacent. Life got a whole bunch more serious.