Uncommon Ground

It’s Happening

Slowly, cautiously we’ll claw our way back into humanity

By Mike Jopek

We’ve been waiting to see you again, to feel the warm gentle winds you bring, the ones that melt the snow. We yearn to see you stream wintertime down the gullies, meandering water into the fen. 

We heard you in the willows, a familiar robin call returned to the farm. We feel you, the sunshine so bright, we donned our shades. You’re really great, spring. It’s been a such a long year. We’ve awaited your return, anxious to see the smiles you put on the faces of locals across town. 

It wasn’t your fault winter. You did all the right things. You chilled us, allowed us to walk to the lake and gave us time to regroup and rest. You wintered us and blessed locals with cold snow. We’re just ready for rain on the farm, for the sun to rise more from the north than the south and hover over us, relentlessly, as we labor in the field.

Next week marks a year from when many locals isolated to “flatten the curve” of contagion that sickened the state and burst the nation. That seems many seasons ago. A lot changed since that time, people moved on, assessed, and quickly made big life decisions previously unfathomable. The isolation was maddening.

America was unprepared. Local comminutes owned no tests and held little understanding what was forthcoming. We watched in horror as hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens died. Many more became gravely ill, some for weeks on end.

It was a lonely time for Montanans. The tragedy detached us from our work, our friends and our way of life. We’re not built for loneliness and the mental anguish became apparent throughout the year. 

With a bit of luck and grace we’ll overcome this scourge and this decade’s roaring twenties might just ring around the bend. For working families and small businesses the return of friendships and economic successes cannot arrive fast enough. 

We long for sunny days with friends. They’re the magnets that keep locals sane, people happy, and life worth living. Companionship and caring shouldn’t be taken for granted, it’s hard work as we understand over the isolated year. 

Many things changed. Some people cracked, bought into the insurrection and raged against the feds. Others watched in horror at how low America sunk. A long, windy road paves our way back to a common humanity.

Not everyone gets it. We enjoy our own bubbles of information, our ideology. There’s instantaneous digital gratification at our finger tips. Outdoor time helps, we long for it, it’s the sunshine and fresh smell of springtime that clear the minds of invading digital demons. 

We realize it’s not over; it just feels better. A vaccine gives many of us an uplifting moment to breathe, find respite. That exuberance is routinely reported around America at vaccine clinics. 

Spend some time gearing up to roar. It’ll get better, day by day. Be slow about it, be smart. Don’t put your family in danger, keep the protocols proper. You’ve lived this long, no sense dying now. It’s the long-term sick that gives many pause. 

Not everyone made it this far into the 100-year pandemic. We grieve for friends lost. We pray the sick heal with each passing day. 

For us on the farm, our optimism is reflected in the over seeding of onions for the upcoming growing season. It’s a combination of overcompensating for a seed shortage and old-fashioned exuberance of getting to work outdoors again all day long.

We don’t know where all this growth will go. Today, we don’t much care. We’re happy America is coming back. Slowly, cautiously we’ll claw our way back into humanity. It’ll take time; our communities are worth it. It’s time to rise again.

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