The weirdness just continues.
Telling the stories of 2020 will entail a whole new vocabulary and a new way to evaluate events. With nearly a third of the year still to come, we have already witnessed more firsts, more new experiences, more alternations in our daily routines than in memory.
Only time will tell what lessons we have learned, how future historians will record the events of this year and what societal changes will be attributed to this strange confluence of events.
As traditional summer comes to an end, at least in places where there are distinct seasons, I find myself with grandchildren in Denver helping them begin a new school year seated in their respective bedrooms glued to a computer screen. Their mother just started a new job that requires she report to the office, and arranging childcare on short notice was a challenge. Sooo, grandmother to the rescue, sort of.
All this is odd enough. But add that Denver experienced its first snowfall of the season, just five days later than the earliest recorded snowfall, which occurred in 1961. The mile-high city saw a dramatic temperature swing from Monday’s high in the 90s to Tuesday’s temperatures in the 30s. In Salt Lake City, where my other batch of grandchildren live, high winds downed trees and power lines – bringing a halt to the first day of virtual school.
Of greater interest to those of us in Southwest Florida, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is setting records. Already, we have reached the letter “R” in storm designations and we’re barely past the peak of the season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is now estimating we will have a total of 19 to 25 named storms this year, the highest forecast ever made.
For so many in our area and across the nation, worries about the weather and even school issues are taking second place to concerns about financial survival, how to pay the rent and where to get their next meal. Early stopgap measures supplied by public money are ending and nonprofits groups are struggling to help. The stalemate in Washington does not bode well for prospects of more assistance.
So in this environment, I wonder what the children of today will take from this experience. My 10-year-old grandson Grayson, who by the way thinks being a newspaper columnist is cool, put his thoughts into words as he reflected on last term’s abrupt end of in-person school, “Virtual school was strange. It was a lot of work for teachers and students. We had lots of projects and essays and there was almost no time to do them. Sometimes, I did them at 8 p.m.”
But he concludes, “This also made for some very good memories and was not all bad, bad, bad. It was fun and made siblings closer. And now we are able to say, ‘I did school during a pandemic.’ You make the good come out in challenges like this.”
We all would do well to consider that admonition. As this challenging time wears on, we are called upon to find the bright spots, to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t, to appreciate some of the simple pleasures we too often fail to notice.
As I sit here looking out the window at the accumulated snow that now falls from the branches of the gnarled tree in my daughter’s front yard, I am struck by the power of nature. Regardless of how many technological advances have made life easier – more in our control, we think – along comes a pandemic, a very early snowfall, a succession of hurricanes. We are called upon to adapt, to find new ways of building a life and of nurturing a new generation.
In the months ahead, we will face new challenges and we will find new solutions. In the best of times, let us not forget how we have succeeded through difficulty and how we must allow ourselves to appreciate the good that is all around us.
Kathy Silverberg is former publisher of the Herald-Tribune’s southern editions. She can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @kdsilver.