When you look at the March and April Palmer Community Calendar, it’s heart-breaking to see so much planned vitality and anticipated activity disappear in a pandemic pouf. Dozens and dozens of fun events, meetings, masses, marches, gatherings, festivities, sports, classes, and recitals are all just one “big cancel.” Much of this was frivolous and joyful socializing…BUT it was our way of life, in which our Palmer community both loved and excelled.
Our Palmer rhythm has ceased. Shopkeepers, hairdressers, party planners, restaurants, craft markets all came to a hard stop. The interruption and collapse of our lively community is a difficult thing to swallow emotionally, financially, and spiritually.
Lots of Loss—So many people have lost so much. So many people have put in so many hours of planning, stocking, and preparing for these now canceled events. We feel for the volunteers who have scheduled dog shows, proms, camping retreats, weddings, history clubs, festivals, graduations, running events, family reunions,, concerts, camping parties, church things, and sport competitions.
Of course—we understand that in the greater sphere of things—like life and death—many of these events might seem trivial. But they were significant efforts—full of heart and meaning—and we recognize the loss.
We’re allowed to grieve this loss. But we also can’t give up on it. It is an unrequested intermission. A time will come when the Palmer shop doors will open again and parades will resume and churches will swing wide their doors. School will once again dictate much of our children’s lives and the call of Palmer will be loud and clear and obvious for anyone that wishes to partake.
Saying goodbye to the “old normal” and being optimistic about the “new normal” is very difficult but probably the best thing to do. If we seek wisdom from our elders, who have been through months of crisis, they will say to be strong, be resilient, and be kind. These wise folks have had to deal with food shortages, rationing, sicknesses, deaths and wars. Let’s listen to them.
Stars of Palmer—These folks continue to be the angels and the heroes: grocery store clerks, janitors, waste disposal folks, cab drivers, medical staff, postal folks, firefighters, first responders, day care workers, law enforcement officers, and all the hidden folks that keep all the services running.
Let’s also place some thanks and value to all the mask-makers in the Palmer area! And let’s be grateful to the calm-spreaders and the soothers in our community. Thank you for your continuing efforts.
Back in the “days of innocence,” before this pandemic, I doubt if we valued any of you enough. But now we do. And we will. Compassion fatigue will affect us all, but you will stand tall regardless.
Why are People from Palmer Howling?—At eight pm, every evening, an enthusiastic growing number of people from the greater Palmer area are going outside and just howling for a few minutes—during this time of social distancing. It’s weird. It’s quirky. And it feels all right. Frankly, it fits right in.
This isn’t just a Palmer thing. It is happening across the nation as an unusual response to being socially distanced. Alaskans have always embraced the quirky. Howling is harmless and certainly less intrusive than fireworks and gun shooting. It is a release of frustration. Our neighborhood howling is our singular opportunity —in a primitive fashion—to say hello, to reassure our neighbors we are still here, to morn the deaths and statistics, and to encourage one another to take heart during this time of isolation. Children love it. Adults love it. Dogs are bewildered by it. Cats are disgusted by it.
Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Look for pussywillows and the pink full moon. Take care of each other, from afar. It’s just an intermission.
Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff in the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz Column in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group. Her “Palmer Buzz Community Calendar” is available at Palmer shops and the Palmer museum. Contact at email@example.com or text 907.315.3222