Easy Does it August

The planet keeps spinning and change is coming

By Mike Jopek

I didn’t mean it that way, my smile hidden behind the mask. I had been breathing my own hot air for hours, days, felt like months. The temperature hit 100 and slowly cooled, over days, to the 80s. My voice sounded snarky, maybe my smile was a smirk. I don’t know. It’s hot. The days are long.

OK breath. Go ahead, give each other the benefit of the doubt. We’re all just adapting to a reality that forces neighbors to read eyebrows instead of smiles and disallows friends from embracing another.

Schools open and parents who previously kept family safely distanced from the virus, heard their president say open schools, as families should somehow be callously thrust into the same contagious pool as the entire school district. Not gonna happen.

Some school districts seem to be able to provide students with technology to accommodate remote learning. That’s fair as even state representatives get a generous tech allowance for remote work. Schools are slowly finding some path forward.

For people who work downtown, the summer proves to be full of hard work. Town looks busy, in wild spurts, feels different, uneasy yet resilient. The people are here; we’ll see how long the stay. One can probably remote school kids from anywhere with fast internet.

We know that people working here remotely with San Francisco wages can easily outbid anybody trying to buy a home with local earnings. The anecdotal stories of local wage-earners getting significantly outbid on home purchases or rentals keep repeating.

Some time ago the flight patterns adjusted on the regional airport and now there’s a steady pattern of jets flying over the farm, over the lakes and mountains. There are plenty of commercial and private jets and helicopters into and out of the valley. It feels busy for a pandemic.

Not to be outmatched by air, there’s a constant caravan of COVID migrants who seemingly fled by land from their hotspot cities across America and drove here to the Flathead in cars, vans, and Winnebagos. Who can blame them? This is one great place.

The days are getting shorter, snow is slowly en route. Hang on. We got this. With a little bit of luck, a good old-fashioned downpour of rain, we might just avoid the worst of it. At least it’s an election year so maybe the feds will help faster over the remaining months of summer into fall.

It’s easy to blame masks and distance and our inability to see the smiles of joy on people’s faces. But there’s clearly more. The sprites were unleashed by some devil. It’ll take a state-full of ballots to stuff the goblins back into the bottle. Soon you’ll get a chance.

National politics has gotten so ugly that only the most stringent of partisans, the loudest of blowhards, and a few good people participate. That’s by design, the intent. Politics so ugly allows good, decent citizens to disengage, barely vote. Not this go. I’m voting for decency.

Locals have been through it before. They can spot the trouble. Any plume of cloud starts the worry. The rolling thunder that barreled through the valley quickly turned thoughts to wildfire. Burning campfires in the valley feels like just asking for it.

Our leaders won’t do much about any of it, and people feel uncomfortable publicly arguing about some of it. More just wait the months until ballots arrive and then dutifully vote you out of office. That’s the American way.

Give your friends, spouse, partner, mother-in-law, coworkers or your kids the benefit of doubt. They’re feeling strongly, as I am, you are, and are just doing the best they can. The planet keeps spinning and change is coming. Count on it.

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