Uncommon Ground

Cold and Hungry

This is the time of year to believe in ourselves and our community

By Mike Jopek

Suddenly, it finally arrived and blanketed the valley in fresh coldness. The snow is here after a weirdly familiar fall of warm weather. Winter Solstice lands next week followed by Christmastime and then onto the New Year. It’s all moving steadily now, ticking on, day by day.

Outdoors feels crisp and clean. With the air fresh and cold, deer have been raking at the snow unearthing any grass of twigs for chew. They likewise put on their winter coats and seek food and shelter.

The days are still getting shorter and the darkness descends quicker these winter days. There’s not a lot of light left to daytime. Luckily the mountain has opened to skiing enthusiasts and the lakes are slowly freezing. Soon the daytimes again get longer.

Indoors the woodstove is devouring firewood quickly. The pets huddled around the firebox and are slow to move to other areas of the house. It’ll be this way for months, it seems.

Outdoors, a cold full moon will be out next week, having rotated to its farthest point, elliptically orbiting our planet. It looks small compared to the supermoons that’ll reappear come the new year as the natural satellite realigns closer to us on Earth.

Also up above, earlier this week, was a spectacular meteor show put on by the Geminids with possible peak sightings of up to 120 meteors per hour. Recently the sky looked that familiar shaded gray so any local sightings were unknown. 

Last week the moon and planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus all aligned in the night sky. On Solstice also expect the Ursids meteor show at an order of magnitude fewer than earlier this month.

Back on planet Earth of our valley, it’s the season of giving and helping other humans who are less fortunate on these cold wintertime days. It’s a season to be grounded in help, to do right by others, and offer financial assistance. 

The Sparrow’s Nest in Kalispell held its annual “When the Night Comes” to focus attention to students from all backgrounds who need a safe place to call home. No child should have to sleep in cars, tents, or couch surf ,especially when the cold night comes. To help homeless kids right here in the valley visit www.sparrowsnestnwmt.org.

Also in Kalispell is the Samaritan House, which provides homeless Montanans transitional living. Its mission is to provide shelter and basic needs for homeless people, while fostering self-respect and human dignity. Help them out at www.samaritanhousemt.com.

Located in Whitefish, the North Valley Food Bank has been working to close the hunger gap in the northern Flathead by providing access to nutritious sustenance through food distribution, senior deliveries, mobile pantries, and support of rural communities. They do a super job and financial giving can be directed to www.northvalleyfoodbank.org. 

In Columbia Falls, the Backpack Assistance Program helps children of our community enjoy healthy food options. The organization provides children with whole fruits and vegetables for the weekend and school breaks. Land to Hand MT was recently rebranded and essential funding assistance can be provided via www.nourishtheflathead.org.

This is the time of year to believe in ourselves and our community. Make room to do those things which matter. You know the stuff that matters to you. I’m sure it’s got a lot to do with family, friends and the community around us.

Together, our community will weather the storms. There are plenty of short days in front of the Flathead as we ease into cold wintertime. No challenge is too great if enough people are willing to help make solutions happen. Be kind, do your part, and enjoy the season. It’s magnificent out there in the real world and every day good people help make it better.

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