Palmer is on Pause. It’s a little bit weird. It’s a little bit disconcerting. But it seems like a necessity in these strange times. It seems odd to not shake hands with people or go in for the hug in some cases. Toe tapping and elbow bumping is something we have to learn. Right now the curiosity factor is high because we are still dealing with the unknown. It is disheartening to drive into the heart of Palmer and not see the groups of people doing things. It’s easy to get anxiety and feel very anxious. So much has been written about this social phenomena and I guess we will see how it all works out with Palmer patience.
The Store Thing—This is the location of Palmer action these days. Store parking lots are full. People are spread out all over the store either picking up items or looking for the emergency supplies, which always seem to be gone. It is in the grocery stores where there is still some low-level sort of public action. This goes to show that Freddy’s and Carr’s are really important in our town. We take it for granted that we can run in and pick up whatever is on the list. Now we are looking at the store as a major supplier of sustenance. The clerks, the stockers, the deliveries, the florists, the pharmacy staff, the management, the food preparers are all part of the careful dance of the Palmer supply chain.
The Big Cancel—Nearly everything is canceled in a big way. All the book groups, all the parties, all the musical functions, the government meetings, the schools, some churches, the gym hours, the community events. It is just the way it is. The Green Gallop running race is canceled. The gun show is canceled. The art classes. The dance recitals. Community meditation. All of the library and animal shelter functions. All of the museum functions.
What is Open?— So far the bars and breweries haven’t shut down completely, as of press time. There are still a few outdoor events still scheduled. Various shops are redesigning their hours or reducing their hours. Most restaurants and coffee huts are doing likewise and offer easy take-outs. Everything is so subject to change, and is dependent on the testing and data as it increases over time. Gas stations, grocery stores, post office, landfill, and medical facilities remain open.
Our Nature is Our Friend—Being able to go outside or observing the beauty outside is a healing tonic for these days of social isolation. The social distancing concept isn’t that difficult in the Valley and we should be grateful for the access we have, regardless of the virus. Fresh air feels cleansing. The dynamic spring sunlight feels healing as well. As Cabin Fever time isn’t over yet, there is concern about the Corona Virus isolation standards mixing it up with cabin fever craziness.
The Arc Changed on Saturday—It was interesting watching the Palmer societal change of heart over the weekend. One could visibly see our community changing from fear—to care. Instead of being overwhelmed by anxiety at the advent of chaos, Palmer People stepped up to help others. Very local groups were developed to help the elders, help feed the children lunches, support the local merchants, assist the young mothers, offer transportation and deliveries, help with childcare, work with the seniors, and redirect the homeless. This shouldn’t be a remarkable observation because frankly, this is always what Palmer does. But once again it is gratifying to see people reach out and help one another. Much of this organization happened in real time on social media. The efficiency and speed was stunning. Local social media seems to be a powerful tool during these strange days.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222