As I think back on the past year I am struck by how malleable our sense of time is. The circumstances we encounter greatly impact how we experience the passage of time.
We have now been in various stages of shut down, isolation, fear and disorder for a full year. Last spring we joked about how April felt like a whole year. Summer, stripped of vacations, festivals, art fairs and music events passed in a fuzzy blur. And yet we seemed to rediscover many close-to-home outdoor activities.
The lack of social gatherings removed many of the usual markers of the passage of summer, and yet we found beauty in our parks, we gardened, we picked berries, we met each other for distanced gatherings at the river more than ever before. Fall brought skyrocketing infection rates and the awareness that we would spend the holidays with only those with whom we had already had more than enough time. And some in our community would have their first holidays without their loved ones. And then came winter. The distanced porch sits became too cold. Then the fire pit filled with snow. Some people tried to meet indoors at a distance. Others just ended up alone, trying to make phone calls fill the gaps created by this pandemic.
As the year circles back around and vaccines bring hope, along with the knowledge that spring will, as it always does, bring the joy of new life, I find myself wondering what we have learned. Will we cherish each other more? Will we have made permanent space for time outdoors? Will we still send unsigned post cards cheering each other on? (A grateful shout-out to the beautiful community member who thought of that!) What about the treats left on front porches? Will teachers finally get the respect that they deserve? When we stop throwing away all of the “To Go” containers, will we value our planet for all she gives us? Will we be grateful for the natural spaces which gave us beauty in the face of all the misery? Will our kids recover? What will they have learned — about themselves, about what matters, about the importance of being a part of something with others?
For now what I seem to have are a lot of questions, a growing spark of hope, and a deep desire to find meaning in the last year. As I stand behind the plexiglass at the Spring Green General Store, protecting me from you, and you from me, each day brings more of you in as you joyfully share that you have received your first, and then your second vaccine. You are hopeful. And yet, I also hear many of you who are worn down. You are longing for companionship; safe, quiet, gentle time with others. Time when we aren’t in need of protection from one another, when truly being together is possible.
As spring arrives and we begin the second year of this pandemic, I hope that we can be thoughtful about what we have learned, be compassionate with each other, be gentle with our children, and take solace in the beauty that has always existed all around us.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. She can often be found welcoming locals and visitors alike to the Spring Green General Store where she tends the register most days. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.