We Need Each Other

There is no us or them

By Mike Jopek

The light crept into the room, turned the dark into blue gray. Outside the robins suddenly started chirping. Other songbirds could be heard off in the distance. Morning was here. Time to get to work.

We work outdoors nearly all day long. Rain or sun encourages more farm work. The chaotic weather changes the daily farm duties. We dress for the weather.

Outdoors feels safe, the air smells fresh and free of virus, as long as proper distancing guidelines are observed. It is not easy for anyone in Montana these days.

I see stress on people’s faces, the angst dripping like the morning dew falling from chokecherry leaves. The tourists are coming and many locals feel some apprehension.

The alarm calls sounded throughout the harvest. It was difficult to spot the distress. The robin sat on the pear tree, chirping away the morning. Ten feet away sat the Great Gray, silent and patient.

The Gray turned its head to look behind then floated to the next perch. Above a crow was circling and squawking. The blunt faced owl turned its head up, around, and then looked at me with those yellow piercing eyes. It leapt off the tree branch, silent with big majestic wings.

On the apple tree the owl perched with its small-clawed feet and looked at the ground for a quick meal. A humming bird was circling just four feet above. It cheeped frantically as it beat its wings faster that it was possible to see. Then it zipped away at a dizzying speed, back toward the golden currant that was in full bloom.

Off in the distance I could hear what I imagined were sparrows and warblers singing up the storm. Rain was in the air. The water came, then stopped, and returned again. The Gray rested on the next perch. It didn’t much care for us. The bird is fast, quiet, and unafraid.

When the day began to fall, we took a walk. Down by the lake the waterfowl sounded active. The red-winged blackbirds saw us coming. They’re stationed on the tops of the water trees and let us pass onward toward the shore.

By the lake the birch trees had leafed out. They’re dizzying and magical, almost hypnotic to watch in the wind. Above the fluttering leaves, high in the sky, were sandhill cranes circling the airspace. They’d soon land somewhere down the marsh.

There is solace in the outdoors, away from the deadly virus that has engulfed the planet showing little regard for human life. It feels like the virus wants us to get our act together, to treat Mother Earth with respect. It looks like many of us humans simply want to bully the highly contagious communicable disease into submission.

We’re at a stalemate. Our tourism economy has sputtered to a halt and the outlook is bleak, according to federal number’s predictors. I cry for my friends who own tourism businesses. These are hard times with plenty of suffering and heartache. I remain hopeful that people fill out those primary ballots and vote for reason, to change our trajectory.

The robin kept singing throughout the morning rain. It had a plan and knew what it needed to do, not only survive but also prosper. The gangs of migrating birds that descended upon the valley have dispersed through out the adjacent woodlands.

Soon the goofy fledglings will flutter about reminding us that the season is advancing. The ground has warmed from the all the rain and days of sunshine. The earth is showing off some of her spring green. No other time of the year in outdoor life is as vibrant as now. There is no us or them. We simply need each other.

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