Interesting to recall where we were at a year ago.

I’m going to say it was right about now, right about early April, where I started getting out and covering things as best I could. This was after the March lockdowns (“The time of elastic waistbands”) and everything that went with it. And to be honest, I might be pushing the schedule forward a bit, it might’ve been a few weeks from now before I started venturing into the outside world very much.

I don’t recall masks being a big thing quite yet, but then most of us were spending most of our time at home. I do recall stopping for gas and wiping down the credit card machine before touching it. Some people were

wearing gloves but me, being a tough guy, just went with the wipe-down.

I kept a small bottle of hand sanitizer in-pocket.

Further to recollection was watching TV news with the wife and somebody important said something about masks and ordering some. We were going to start wearing masks. Then we realized that due to demand the masks wouldn’t be here ‘til May. We made some alternate arrangements and now have a May-delivered giant pack of disposable masks in a cabinet.

Traffic was light, very light, this time a year ago. In late March it was especially noticeable how now cars were moving. At night it sounded like Christmas Eve, which is to say it didn’t sound at all. Nothing was moving on our normally active suburban street.

Talk was of vaccination, of vaccine trials against skyrocketing infection numbers and questions if hospitals would be able to keep up.

“Essential worker” became a thing. You had to keep the newspaper going, so a lot of meetings were watched over video (you had to keep government going, so a lot of meetings took place over video).

The poet William Blake (b: 1757, back when you put “poet” on your resume) had this idea that we humans, if we live a fully developed life, go through three stages: Innocence, experience and finally ending with organized innocence.

“Innocence,” was like a child, trusting and believing; “Experience” came from that bitter realization that some people are not what they say, or will not do what they say. The final, “Organized innocence,” was the culmination of that arc of understanding, that, essentially, some things deserve innocence, some the hesitancy as comes from experience, and some, most, a balance between those two points.

Our path through the pandemic to date, broad brush edition: Innocence as we all stayed home, projections looked bad; experience as the antis came out, “Can’t make me where a mask,” and the “It’s not a real virus” or “only a few will die.” Now organized innocence as we wear a mask in potentially dangerous environments, get our vaccines, ignore the social media epidemiology (and laugh that it was ever a thing) and otherwise carry on knowing a society-changing virus is floating around out there.

It looks like, despite winter going down swinging, we can finally put up the heavy clothes and get ready to enjoy a post-pandemic summer, getting outside the house and enjoying the sun. I will, in the spirit of organized innocence, keep a mask handy, if not on, knuckle bump more than handshake and otherwise do what the CDC says is the best way to make it through this time.

And wonder what the post-Easter column will read a year from now.

Kienlen is the Editor of the Van Buren County Democrat

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