You never know what you might find when spring arrives and the snow melts. Several times this past winter we didn’t get our morning paper. When things are working right, it’s delivered at about 6 a.m., thrown by the carrier from a moving car and landing somewhere on – or near – our driveway.
Sometimes it hits and slides on the ice to a remote spot. Sometimes it’s on top of a snowbank; sometimes it’s buried in the snow. And sometimes, there’s no paper at all to be found.
Well, on Thursday, March 26, one week after the first day of spring, I saw a rolled up paper in a plastic wrap under the ice, hidden behind a planter on the edge of our driveway. I tried to chip it out but it wouldn’t come. It needed a few more days of thawing. Two days later, I rescued it and brought it in the house, unrolled it and draped it over chairs to dry out. It was the paper from Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.
Now, I’ve flipped through the edition and the words of the song written in 1965 (you don’t remember 1965, do you?) by the Beatle, Paul McCartney, came to mind: “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay."
The contrast between our world on Dec. 9, 2019, and March 26, 2020, could not be more dramatic.
The paper on March 26 had 26 articles about the coronavirus pandemic in the first section: all about closed schools, restaurants and bars, thousands of employees sent home, overcrowded hospitals, business at a stand-still, stay-at-home orders and a general halt in all private, public and social activity. The papers earlier in the month told of professional sports schedules being canceled, high school and college tournaments being called off and classrooms being replaced by private computers. Even the Olympics in Japan have been postponed for a year. The local, state, national and world affairs have all been turned upside down. All because of a disease that could kill 100,000 to 240,000 Americans, all transferred by somebody’s breath from less than 6 feet away.
The paper for Dec. 9, once dried out, revealed the yesterday when all our troubles seemed so far away. Not even imagined.
What were we worried about on Dec. 9? We worried about the invasion of a tree-killing beetle, the emerald ash borer, that could kill millions of ash trees in Minnesota. But Minnesota had been planning on the invasion and advised homeowners to use an insecticide that would protect trees for a time and advised thinning ash trees to slow the spread. We planned ahead!
Also reported were a flood diversion project slowed down, as expected, due to winter weather. Further, Minnesota had developed an advisory council on anticipated changes due to climate change. The paper further advised on a list of wonderful holiday movies; an editorial pointed out that leadership in meeting our challenges requires confidence, competence and character. In another article, we were worried about injuries that often result from snow shoveling.
The paper listed a Minnesota Viking victory over Detroit in a playoff game, scores of college and pro games and sports events from coast to coast – boys, girls, hockey, basketball, playoffs, etc. In other words, the world on Dec. 9 was normal and just humming along. All our troubles, if any, seemed so far away.
Yes, the world is upside down in April 2020. We are part of the COVID-19 world health crisis that could overwhelm our brave health professionals and we’re just addressing the economic crisis that is following from the stay-at-home business shutdown intended to minimize the unemployment and the economic damages. We have never seen anything like this. The soul of America is being tested.
Yesterday, all our troubles seemed so far away.