Every single year the Palmer area autumn is remarkable. The lawns, yards and fields are still green. Hardy flowers still bloom valiantly. The Mountain Ash trees’ bright red berries cluster in clumps of juicy maroon pickings. The sky is cloudless and the mountains….oh the mountains….are a quilted tapestry of greens, golds, rusts, oranges and bits of red, framed by the granite rocky cliffs and peaks. There is nothing quite like this bittersweet season.
Downtown Palmer is quite negotiable— if you’re a walker or driver or biker. Of course, you still have to be careful of traffic signals. And you always have to be wary of weather changes. But for the most part, accessibility is unimpeded, assuming you are mobile. If you are in a wheelchair or a stroller or on crutches, things become even more challenging. Small things like doors, sidewalk cracks, steps, slopes and gravel become obstacles to avoid if possible.
If you are impaired with the injury of a limb, the disability increases dramatically. Your balance is affected and short distances become long distances. Public transportation is not readily available to assist and neither are cabs or Ubers.
Handicapped parking spaces are few and far between and often jammed up. Grocery carts parked willy nilly are impediments. Likewise improperly parked vehicles are a huge deterrent to progress. Every little thing is a hurdle and often a stumbling block.
Reflective about Challenges—I can report on this physical logistic problem accurately this summer. At least a half dozen of my friends have had debilitating injuries this year and the grief is real. Plus I have also had my first major injury so the stories hit home, harder than ever. It is ever apparent that pregnant women, elders with issues, vision impaired folks and the disabled face these same walking challenges daily. It is easy to not think about their obstacles. It is only when one experiences a complication, that one’s eyes’ are truly opened to the difficulties we normally overlook.
Kinder Society—Palmer is long known for its’ compassionate and gentle nature. When there is a lengthy line at the post office, it’s not unusual for someone to offer an elder veteran first place in line. It is common for people to hold doors open for one another. It is standard to say hello to people you don’t know. Some will say that these common courtesies are lessening as more and more population calls Palmer home.
It bears consideration that to continue this graciousness, we have to show the way by example. Not with threats. Or complaints. But with genuine action. Hold the door open. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Thank people for their service, whatever it is. Offer your chair to someone weaker, older, or younger if it appears they are in need. Be friendly when standing in line and leave that imperious and judgmental attitude at home. Inquire about peoples’ well-being. Just nodding and saying hello comes easy in Palmer. Let’s ramp these courtesies up and continue to make neighborliness our norm.
Masks/No Masks—This battle is over. People are doing whatever they will. No amount of scolding or guilting is going to change people from one position to another. The decision is a personal one. You must do what you feel is right for you, your family, your neighbors and your community. We can not pass judgement on others. This means we should not make fun of mask wearers nor should we laugh at no-maskers.
Wrapping up the Summer—The last Palmer farm stands and markets are this next week. There is a farm harvest festival at Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farm this weekend. There is a vintage market and food truck festival at the Barn at the Alaska State Fair this weekend. Lots of football continues this week. Pre-winter chores continue and check last week’s column for the full list. Autumn’s most beautiful colors are still on show in Hatcher Pass, Glenn Highway, Reflection Lake, Eklutna Tailrace, and in-between all these destinations. This is potato picking party time and many local farms offer this opportunity.
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 museum. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222