For as long as I can remember, Mom insisted that tacking up a new calendar before the first day of the New Year was bad luck. Since we don’t need any of that, Emil and I waited until today to take down our dog-eared record of 2020.
Flipping through the months, we reflect on the COVID-laced apprehension, isolation and disruption of plans.
Our hearts go out to those who lost a loved one or suffered from this terrible virus. We recognize that many businesses and their loyal employees were stressed and stretched to the breaking point. Those on the front lines worked miracles. We also realize jobs were lost and the pandemic has taken a toll on many families.
We hope better days are ahead.
Rays of sunshine
Blessed to have stayed healthy, Emil and I also are grateful to those who brightened our days in 2020, whether in-person at appropriate social distances, online or over the phone.
If we gathered all their smiles together, we are convinced they’d stretch for miles. Let me introduce just a few of them.
Canadians Emily and Lila, along with their parents Lisa and Rick, were visiting us in Texas just as COVID-19 took over the headlines. After a few idyllic days of fishing and wandering through the bluebonnets with them, it was hard to comprehend that the family would be required to self-isolate upon their return to Alberta.
However, shortly after their arrival home, Canada and the U.S. shut down the longest undefended border in the world to slow the pandemic’s spread. We realized then that COVID was a severe worldwide threat.
That made the memories of the time we spent together last spring even more precious.
Keeping local folks informed
The Fayette County Record’s affable editor and his staff remained positive and upbeat despite the challenges presented by canceled events, anxious readers and a polarizing federal election in 2020.
After facing COVID himself, Jeff Wick shared his experience with readers to explain and educate rather than to dramatize his encounter.
Jeff has earned our trust.
I’m proud to be one of the columnists of this award-winning bi-weekly community newspaper.
Rocks to the “there’s nothing to do” rescue
An envoy from our “La Grange Rocks” Facebook group gathered stones in our creek to use in their artwork campaign to promote positive, uplifting messages. The effort challenged the (primarily) young painters’ creativity and ingenuity while delighting the public.
While most of the clever and beautiful creations were hidden around town in open sight, one of these gems appeared at the foot of the hackberry tree at our gate. Even though we will hate to part with this rock, we promise to hide it in town one day soon for someone else to find.
Perhaps we’ll come across a new one to take its place.
Mail service never faltered
Although we rarely caught sight of Pollyanna in 2020, she and our other local rural mail carriers worked extraordinarily hard to maintain this invaluable link to the outside world. There were so many parcels to deliver in addition to their regular workload!
Over the years, we’ve never seen Pollyanna without a smile. In fact, we’re confident if you don’t have one, she will gladly lend you one of hers.
Just being friendly
Our friend and neighbor, animal rescue activist Denise Winter, is a knitting pro and home canning whiz. Emil and I benefited from both of her creative pastimes during 2020.
Imagine my pleasure at finding a headband tucked in an envelope she left with some groceries she’d picked up for us.
We also taste-tested Denise’s wide-ranging canning efforts. Although there was no Fayette County Fair in 2020, Emil and I would have awarded the grand championship rosette to Denise’s shimmering peach amaretto jam.
However, her mango chutney and spicy rum cranberry sauce certainly would have outdistanced most of the competition, too.
Paper, ink and such? No problem!
During the early days of COVID-19, much of the world was frantically rushing to hoard rolls of toilet paper. I was on the phone to the owners of my friendly office supply store in Weimar, Texas.
Glen and Karen Dornak at Prestige Office Products saw to it that I was equipped with an ample stock of printer ink cartridges and reams and reams of paper, plus a wide range of other products that I positively had to have. They never so much as batted an eye when I put in an order for 800 sheet protectors for a project I was working on. Prestige’s timely in-store delivery of catalog items outshone Amazon!
These supplies kept this writer feeling secure, plus every time we stopped by the store, Glen entertained us with another memorable cat story.
Across the miles
Since the U.S.-Canada border was closed, I was unable to visit my family there last summer. I especially missed spending time with my sister Shirley who doubles as my proofreader extraordinaire. Thanks to email and the telephone, though, we didn’t leave much unsaid.
In 2021, I hope to have an opportunity to hug Shirley and shake the wonder-dog’s paw. I might even tuck a Texas treat for Molly in my carry-on luggage to make a good first impression.
Behind the scenes of this blog
In addition to being a devoted mom, Klazina Stanwick is my talented and patient webmaster. While she ensures my website is safe, secure and up-to-date, Klazina’s technical expertise truly shines when she takes the stories and the pictures I send her and creates posts like the one you are reading.
Thanks to Klazina’s TLC, Stories from the Slow Lane will celebrate its first birthday in February.
Inspired artists add imaginative touch
A picture is worth 1,000 words. Therefore, an ingenious illustration for my blog posts must be worth at least double that value!
Julia Feingold of Brooklyn, New York; Mady Thiel-Kopstein of Turner Valley, Alberta; and Rabbit Janecka of Weimar, Texas; did a marvelous job of visually interpreting my stories with charming artwork. Not only are these talented artists fun and easy to work with, but their creativity helped grab the attention of readers like you.
I can’t wait to see what stories and illustrations we’ll put our heads together on in 2021.
Meanwhile back in the pasture
Our farm animals detected nothing out of the ordinary or off-kilter in 2020. The sun came up in the east and went down in the west. Despite limited rainfall, there was ample grass all summer and inviting mineral lick buckets appeared like clockwork. The first bale of hay showed up on schedule in late November.
Armadillos snuck into the yard at night to work their mischief. Birds built nests. Wildflowers bloomed.
All was well, so Emil and I took our cue from observing our farm animals and Mother Nature; hang in there!
Words of gratitude
To those who participated in various blogs by sharing their personal stories and photos, thank you. I loved hearing your memories of holiday traditions ranging from Valentine’s Day to Easter and Father’s Day to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your recollections about what brings joy to your lives were heartwarming. Sharing your memories in my posts was an honor.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you, my readers, how much I appreciate you. Thank you for reading and passing along the stories on my blog to your friends and family. Your interest and kind comments inspire me to write more stories that otherwise might be lost.
Emil and I are very grateful to those who I’ve highlighted in this post and so many other folks whose positive attitudes, thoughtfulness and, yes, genuine smiles, made 2020 less discouraging.
In the rearview mirror
Now it’s time to hang the pristine new calendar and get on with 2021. May the New Year bring you peace, good health and much happiness. All the best!
* * *
- Every Day is Memorial Day for Wayne Givens - May 26, 2023
- A Woman Ahead of Her Time - May 5, 2023
- Spring in an Old Texas Cemetery - April 21, 2023
I love reading your posts. They are uplifting, positive and kind. Thank you..
May 2021 continue to bring out the good in each of us. May 2021 remind us
How precious a hug is. Yes, thank you. Happy New Year to all.
Thank you, Gesine. Since we saw so few people in person during 2020 and stayed very close to home, the kindness we enjoyed meant so much to us. I only wish I had more room to introduce readers like you to others who brightened our days!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for putting the past year in perspective.
Your writing about the smiles that surround us remind us of what is really important, lasting and encouraging for the year ahead.
So glad that you and Larry also recognized the abundance of small blessings in our lives last year that we might have overlooked in the past because we were so busy and had so much to do. Thanks for writing, Susie.
You spread HOPE like a hyper-honey bee on a pollen-laden mission! Thanking God for your presence on this Orb.
Living in the country, we are treated to changes in the natural world every day. In 2020, making those observations was comforting. Like you, we have faith in the future, Jeanie!
Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your thoughts and experiences about the simple things that matter most in this life. 2020 has certainly given us appreciation for things lost that we took for granted. Oh, for the day when we can once again safely gather with our friends, and maybe enjoy a warm hug! Happy New Year!
That day is coming Frank and, yes, how sweet it will be to safely gather and enjoy fellowship – even if it’s simply a visit by the broccoli display in the grocery store. Thank you for writing!
What a wonderful year in review. Here’s to happier times in 2021!
Thanks, Bev. We certainly will be looking for happiness and probably defining it a little differently. I know that I’ll continue to count good friends like you as a special blessing.
Elaine, once again your words spoke to my heart. In spite of the challenges and losses of 2020, we remain so very blessed.
When feeling isolated, we discovered new ways of connecting to family and friends. Limitations allowed us to focus on many things previously undone, and we discovered family treasures hidden in storage boxes for much too long.
We worked and improved properties in Fayette County, enjoyed nature while avoiding snakes, chiggers, and all that goes along with the beauty of the great outdoors. Social distancing was not a problem.
While bidding farewell to 2020 and welcoming 2021, I remember the many opportunities and blessings of this last year. Thanks for your encouraging words, Elaine! I always look forward to your stories!
Like you and Stan, we felt very grateful for the technology that linked us with family and friends, plus getting some projects done that looked insurmountable is very reassuring and fulfilling. We often said when we drove over our cattleguard that we put urgent COVID worries behind us in our isolated rural location. We, too, celebrate the blessings we discovered.
‘Abundance in our lives’ in 2020, is well coined in your post reply, but I now predict ‘Optimism for our lives’ in 2021.
(Of course I didn’t know Denise brewed Mango Chutney until today, 2021)
I like your 2021 phrase: Optimism for our lives! Let’s make a pact to compare notes here on this blog at the end of 2021 to see how the year has played out. Learning that Denise makes chutney already has started your New Year off on a pleasing note! Isn’t that a good omen?
Great read. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed the post, Marie. All the best to you and Tim in the New Year!
What a beautiful summary of how God’s blessings flow new every morning in spite of how it sometimes seems. We are truly blessed by the wonderful people in our lives who bring those small loving touches that mean so much. Wishing you, Emil, and Shirley many blessings in 2021 and praying hard that we can all get the vaccine soon and begin to be able to mingle again with those old friends we miss so much and those new friends we long make. Happy Anno Domini 2021 to all!
Thank you, Lemae, for your kind thoughts and prayers that the vaccine will soon be widely available. Won’t it be wonderful to plan to visit friends and family without worrying about social distancing and masks! It’s certainly something to look forward to in 2021.
Wonderful read as we reminisce a year like no other in our lives. Enjoy and look forward to all your stories. Many more waiting to be told!
Thanks, Marcy! Yes, there are many stories out there and I can’t wait to hear as many as I can and pass them along. I really appreciate your words of encouragement. All the best!
Admire your mailbox decoration. What an inventive use for valve handles.
Valve handles? I didn’t know that but will pass your comment on to Emil. Did you notice the moss on the little tractor? In addition to putting down roots, I guess you could say we’ve lived in this community long enough to grow moss. Thanks for writing!
Very happy that you enjoyed my view of the year in review. Where would we be without people who cared? Thanks for writing.
Loved your sharing! What a blessing you are and all who serve others. Nice to highlight them! Many blessings in the new year!
Pauline, many blessings to you and yours in the New Year as well. Thank you for your kind words and all you do to walk the talk.
Such a positive outlook! Thanks Elaine!
Thank you, Elaine, You are so positive thinking. Your stories always tug at my heart.
You are a very warm and friendly person who truly makes a difference in the world, Jo Lynn. Thanks for writing and thanks for your encouragement.
Elaine, you already know how much we enjoy your stories…you get to the “heart” of a story. Thank you for being a bright spot in a rather dark 2020…keep up the good work and Happy New Year to you and yours from both of us!
Thanks, Deanna, and a Happy New Year to you and David and all your family. I very much appreciate you reading my stories and providing me with feedback. Take care!