The past year tested humanity and civility on so many levels, often clouding local stories with international and national headlines. The focus on national divisions, pandemic tracking and international insecurity made it difficult to find meaningful community-based topics for me to harness in this local column. That, combined with working from home in isolation from the greater community, left me grappling many weeks with “what can I possible write about this week that’s relevant?”
In 2021, I relied heavily on creative writing to fill the page. I interjected poems, letters and reflective prose to capture moments in time, be it the weather or holidays. I received many accolades from readers and friends in response to these pieces, thank you. The paper keeps printing them, so I’ll continue to submit them when the creative juices are flowing, and the stories aren’t. When topics are dry, I need your help. I appreciate it when community members send me tips and leads on people or incidents that may appropriate for this column. Keep them coming.
The valley has grown more visibly in 2021 and there’s been a fair share of growing pain gripes. There are physically visible things like the sheer number of homes dotting the landscape, lights at night, the number of cars on the road, and new this week – a scarcity of milk and eggs at the grocery store! But there’s another type of growth, one that’s more difficult to see but very easy to feel. It’s the growth of uncertainty that has led to utter exhaustion.
Even though we all know that the only thing that is certain in life is change, it’s difficult to accept and tiring to keep adapt constantly. We’ve muddled through COVID guidelines, vaccines, surges and mandates, mostly adapting as needed. Some have rejected the adaptations all together, severing and splintering relationships in work places, schools, churches, friendships and families. It’s been very difficult on people on all sides of the controversy. Civility feels strained, standing on thin ice.
Then, there’s the fires, always peeking its insidious flame from behind the beautiful veil of summer. We’ve grown accustomed perhaps, but it doesn’t change the distaste of the smell of smoke and reality of the danger. We’ve grieved a lot of loss, and we are still grieving.
We are still masking up, still swabbing noses and avoiding big crowds and fireproofing homes. Our way of living has changed permanently and while we move on and through the steps necessary, it’s important we acknowledge how draining 2021 has been on our emotional health as a community. My hope for 2022 is to revitalize and re-energize our collective efforts to solve the difficult challenges ahead. Founded on common ground to fill the housing shortage, water shortage, and labor shortages, and of course build a new pool. Where will your energy be this year?