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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 29, 2020

Finding a Way

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

I have been amazed, inspired and cheered by some of the creative things people have been doing while we abide by "safer at home" guidelines. Besides the illnesses and deaths; and other severe issues this pandemic is causing to businesses and livelihoods, there have also been less serious but drastic disruptions to daily life.

There are plenty of witty and good-natured observations made about that facet of our situation, and some people come up with incredibly creative work-arounds to some challenges. I'll list some of my favorites - some local or personal, some from far away.

My daughter in Seattle is far from friends from her time in Dallas. They can't get together in person like they wish they could do, but every Friday night they have a "virtual happy hour" via "Facetime." They can commiserate, share some laughs and look forward to the time they can be together in person again over a glass of wine. Until then, this routine gathering helps bridge the gap and make a Friday spent working from home seem more like a normal Friday with a post work week relaxation. Angela and her husband have also been going on "car picnics" - finding a nice quiet scenic outlook over Puget sound to park at, and enjoy a take-out pizza. Eating pizza in a parked car is a far cry from their favorite restaurant, but it's a chance to get out of their apartment and still stay safe.

The Peshtigo Times had some pictures of a "drive-by" birthday party for a local woman a couple of weeks ago. She sat in her front yard and her friends lined up in cars with signs, shouting well-wishes as they passed. So heartwarming, and the unusual circumstances will be a cherished memory forever. A similar event happened in Coleman to mark the 70th wedding anniversary of a lovely couple. Their friends and community honored them with a "parade," as they watched in safety from their yard. It takes some effort to coordinate an event like these, and the kindness of the organizers and participants is inspiring.

My nephew is getting married the first week in June. The virus has disrupted all their plans, but they are handling this with grace. A wedding shower will be held "virtually," with the guests able to interact with the bride over the internet. No one will be accepting a risky exposure, but no one will be left out of the event, either. And the centerpiece of their wedding, a church ceremony, will be held with just a few participants. In their priorities, the church blessing at the altar is the most important part of the wedding. I am proud of them.

One of my southern Wisconsin relatives has a son who is in second grade. Class is behind held on line. (Think about this if you don't appreciate teachers. Trying to hold the attention of an entire classroom of second graders via computer. I just can't imagine, but think I'd rather be poked in the eye with a needle rather than trying to do what these teachers are doing.) Because it was his birthday, his teacher made him a homemade birthday card and sent it to his house, and then scheduled a surprise on-line meeting to have his class sing happy birthday to him. Talk about above and beyond from this teacher to make a student's day special. She's remarkable.

My own local weekly paper, the Mosinee Times, had a full-page ad last week from the teachers at Mosinee High School. Each teacher was pictured holding a sign with a word on it. If you read the signs across the page they spelled out messages to the high school students, like "You've got this!" and "We miss you!" To me, this is the essence of small town and small schools - so intensely personal, and charmingly low-technology.

Our favorite neighbors from our time on Highway 180 now live in the city of Marinette and she posted a picture of their celebration of her husband's birthday. It was, due to safer at home, just the two of them - but she still took the time to have a small cake, and a beautifully set table of favors and decorations for the observance. She did not cut a corner since it would be "just them," she went to the same effort she would have if others could have graced her table.

My brother and his wife in Madison participated in creating a "scavenger hunt" for neighborhood kids. Participants post something as specified by the activity organizer" hearts, rainbows or pictures of animals, in their street-front windows for the kids to spot while walking with their parents. It gets the families with kids outdoors for safe and healthy walks with a structured activity suitable for even young tykes; it requires no "screen time," and the participation of the neighborhood demonstrates unity, care and concern for others.

People are taking time to be kind to one another, observe special occasions and maintain social connections. Memories of these charming "work-arounds" will be related to grandchildren in years to come. It can be done safely with a little bit of thought and planning.

It is hard to be patient with safer at home, when we miss our loved ones and friends so fiercely. But we can do this.

And we keep our distance from those we love, so that on the joyous day when we can be together again in person, none of us is missing.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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