MOORHEAD, Minn. — We survived two weeks of ("Star Wars" reference coming) living on Hoth, the sun is climbing higher in the sky, COVID vaccinations in Minnesota vaulted past 1 million and — most important by a country mile — the Twins are in Florida for spring training.

Things are looking up.

For the first time in a year that seemed to last three, it feels like normal is within sight.

Or, more accurately, whatever is going to be the new normal is within sight.

And with a little luck, maybe the new normal isn't going to look all that different from the old normal.

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Take, for example, this nugget from a report in the Star Tribune last week on the red-hot housing market in the Twin Cities metro area: "Sales gains were strong in nearly every corner of the metro, including the downtown condo market ...."

In other words, even after social unrest, a crime spike in some areas, empty office buildings caused by the pandemic, scads of negative headlines and the unending lies and demonization of Minneapolis by Republican politicians — the state's most important city is not emptying. It is filling.

And soon enough, when fans are allowed in large numbers to Twins games and workers return to their downtown offices, Minneapolis will be as vibrant and alive as it should be.

Despite what many rural Minnesotans and desperate Republican politicians might think, this is a good thing. Getting back to as close to normal as possible serves everyone.

In the darkest days of the pandemic, mixed with the darkest days of the incompetent and cruel Trump administration, we were right to wonder if we were ever going to climb out of the deep black hole into which we'd descended.

We will, in part thanks to the waning of COVID and in part because we so badly want to.

Who knew bellying up to a bar in a small town to BS with a stranger should be something we must never take for granted?

And let's be honest: Trying to navigate through the pandemic was bad enough, but trying to do it during the most polarized and hyper-partisan political atmosphere in decades made it worse. Historians 100 years from now will look back at the idiotic fight over mask-wearing and wonder how we survived our stupidity.

Love Joe Biden or hate him — but does anybody really hate Joe Biden? — the daily drama and anger sparked by Trump has vanished. COVID is no longer politicized, the regular news stories about mask protests or bars flouting state mandates have disappeared.

Perhaps it's not quite so fashionable anymore to fruitlessly spit in the face of government now that the Inciter-In-Chief isn't on Twitter pouring gasoline on the fire.

The temperature politically has been turned down significantly, at least outwardly. That pumps up the optimism meter.

We're not at the finish line, but we can see it from here. It's the first time in a year we've been able to say that.

Enjoy. We've earned it.

Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 451-5655