tI was looking through my photo stock today trying to find a picture more appropriate to our winter, 2020. This is as close as I could get -- an open river. The Yellowstone has not frozen over yet this year, although there was a minor ice jam earlier when the Civil Defense director was watching the level of the water. It was close to flood stage, but not enough to evacuate. She was surprised to have the problem in January.
Discounting a few frigid days around Thanksgiving and then for about a week in January, the winter has been incredibly mild. People keep waiting for the "other shoe to fall", i.e. February and March lie ahead, but as most people agree, every day with temps in the upper 40s is one day closer to Spring. A friend in southeast Wyoming says they are concerned about drought and of course, unless we get later rains, a winter without snow is not good. My cousin in Sioux Falls says their concern is flooding in the Spring. I think the Mid-west has piles of snow. My brother in Las Vegas talks about chilly low temperatures and once this year the temp in Vegas and in Glendive were the same -- go figure!!
In the rural areas of the world the big topic is always weather -- we live by the weather report and every conversation eventually comes around to that topic. Tuesday of this past week it rained so of course we had lots of ice -- not pleasant at any time.
I had another visit with a friend today which wove its way around the subject of Tim Babcock, governor of Montana at one time and a home-town boy here in Glendive. My friend and I were discussing the fact he was governor because of the death in a plane crash of the former governor although Tim was later elected in his own right. We also had a governor, Ted Schwinden who was from Wolf Point, but elected politicians from the eastern rural areas are hard to find. Babcock was a Republican which was also surprising as Montana frequently elects governors who are Democrats and who get elected because the western part of the State is more Democrat.
The public school administration is attempting to build a new elementary school. Two buildings need to be torn down due to aging infrastructure. The two buildings will be replaced with one as the school age population has also dropped. The mill levy is a tough sell for the community. The question is how much can you do to bandaid a school together? And yet the taxpayers have a say in all of it as well. This year I think more than ever I am hearing of institutions that are struggling. Medical facilities are in a world of hurt, churches of all denominations struggle to keep pastors and pay the bills and of course business and economic development groups all over work so hard to bring money into our small towns.
The political situation does not inspire confidence and with an election year looming before us everything promises to become more contentious.
So out here on the prairies we will enjoy the Spring-like weather while it lasts. I don't think many of us would trade places with the bigger cities so we continue our co-existence with the land and our love affair with this time and this place.