These are strange times.

I can no longer count the ways in which the day-to-day functions of our community have changed; the number of times I have looked at the news and felt a pit in my stomach; the peculiarity of no longer shaking hands with a stranger or embracing an old friend.

Yet for all that, in the past week, I have seen unprecedented kindness play out in a hundred tiny ways across our little communities.

On social media, I’ve seen community members reaching out to one another, offering to run errands, pick up groceries, or simply remain in touch as limitations on communal gatherings grow increasingly strict.

So many people have made an extra effort to support our local businesses however they can in these uncertain economic times, and while a handful of purchases will not solve the problem, it is hard to put a value on the care such efforts indicate.

When I stopped to pick up my last book from the library before it closed, library director Deb Hyde commented how many people had responded with grace and support despite the (temporary) loss of a critical community service.

Unexpectedly, amid a flurry of interviews and phone calls, people have paused to ask me how I am doing. A few readers reached out to say that the newspaper is keeping them connected in a time that feels deeply disconnected, and I’ll admit, those kind words kept me typing new stories late into the night.

Further abroad, I’ve heard from friends scattered across the country and the world, people reaching out through email, social media, and text to say: we’re all in this together.

While these exact circumstances are indeed unprecedented, the fact that difficult times have the ability to bring people together is nothing new. Having spent considerable time paging through the age-worn copies of local historic newspapers, I can tell you that — whether it’s forest fires, storms, wars, or illness — the people in our little towns have an instinct to help one another.

Crises that have seemed insurmountable have been mitigated by the hard work, ingenuity, and simple kindness of our citizens.

Make no mistake, whatever happens in our local communities, this current time will one day join those other landmark moments in history. Years from now, people will look back and what happens here will be a microcosm of what is happening across the nation and the world.

Already, I have been astonished by the grace and efficiency with which many people have responded to this trying time. Let’s continue on that track.

Whether it is a call to an elderly neighbor who is now homebound, or lunch purchased from a local cafe, or an offer of help wherever we can give it — let this be a time where we step up and make history we can be proud of.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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