Canceled—“Canceled” became “the word “in March and continued throughout Palmer’s 2020 Corona-coaster year of ups and downs. Back in March we had no clue how things would change as the months marched on with Miss Rona as the lead player in Palmer.
Toilet Paper—This was the start in March. Suddenly it was difficult to find “toilet paper.” And hand sanitizer. And bleach. And hand wipes. And detergent. Paper towels. Kleenex. When you went to either of Palmer’s two grocery stores, there were signs in the aisles limiting your purchase of these items.
At first it seemed laughable, silly and even playful. But it wasn’t long before the fear spawned stock-piling, hoarding and worry.
Change—2020 was phenomenal with “change” in nearly everything we knew. Schools, classes, clubs, churches, offices, testing, banking, grocery shopping, medical appointments, sports, Palmer History Society, Palmer Chamber of Commerce meetings, Palmer city hall meetings, Mat Su Miners games were all changed up. And it’s important to recognize that none of us wanted this change.
Flatten the Curve—This term—“flatten the curve,” was a new one for most of us. Along with social distancing and contact cluster. We learned about personal bubbles and pods and about antibodies, isolation, and ventilators. We all learned a new lexicon entirely and we learned to spell quarantine correctly. Our highly socialized and unified tribe of Palmer became a confusing collection of separate zen diagrams with overlapping circles; now with the advent of corona, physical socialization was no longer safe nor welcome.
Masks—Face “masks” became the currency for legitimacy. We heard arguments that masks could save lives and arguments that masks were the work of the devil. Masks became the critical fulcrum in the equation. Who would have thought small fabric panels could become such a controversial tipping point. Palmer didn’t entirely split over this but it felt as if the mask issue was a highly obvious flag of one’s politics—in a highly political year of covidicy.
Death—“Death” was endured, grieved and talked about a-lot. And not just with Covid. Palmer people died this year—alone, without family. Funerals were canceled. Individual dreams, trips and plans died. Tourism and reunions died. There was no 2020 State Fair. Small businesses died. It was a year of grief and realization of mortality.
Birth—“Birth” was also at the forefront. Palmer babies were born in a climate of concern. “Corona-babies” were undoubtedly conceived by virtue of forced “togetherness” times. New responsive and innovative businesses were created and new Palmer careers were considered as a result of “corona-cations.”
Unstoppable—Throughout this past year, Palmer “unstoppable,” resilience has ruled against all odds. First responders. Faith Services. Charities. Government services. Weekly Palmer Monday Fun Runs. Education continued; Zoom connections enabled public meetings, book clubs, and art classes, all continued in new and different ways.
Outside—Going “outside” became the norm. Hiking, driving and walking increased. Bikes, tents, and sleeping bags became difficult to purchase because of the demand. Local and state parks reported high activity levels. Parades became spread out for more “social distancing.” Outside gatherings increased with extra space. Marches, rallies, and congregations happened with outdoor washing stations, spacial awareness, and hand sanitizer.
Wash Your Hands—This statement—“Wash Your Hands”—underscored the entire year in Palmer. It became both a greeting and a farewell. It became a chant and a cheer. It’s a good thing and something we hopefully will continue to do all our lives. Because we have learned important things this year. We were severely educated in the world of germs, at so many levels.
Grace—Personal “grace” is the healing salve that kept Palmer going. There was long distance love and care between friends and strangers, families and cohorts. Neighbors checked in with each other. Despite the challenges of the “coronapocolypse,” there was diligent and unchecked generosity. This personal grace defines Palmer, despite the very difficult year.
Good bye Old Year 2020. Welcome New Year 2021.
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.. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222