Looking forward to new normal

We have learned a great many new things this year. Almost a year ago, I wrote a column about flu and the need for people to be vaccinated. It focused on the regular flu that occurs regularly each year. At that time news was just reaching us about a new deadly flu that had been discovered in China and was causing unheard of deaths.

Almost two months later we were into a lockdown that removed many of our freedoms and the virus spread across Europe, and North America. We were experiencing the same deadly flu in Ontario. District residents banded together and followed the rules of health officials.

We learned much from the lockdown.

Teachers had to learn how to deliver lessons to their students in their homes. Parents had to adapt to working from home and be the teachers to their children. We learned that software like Zoom or GoTo-meeting would be part of our everyday life. Whole classrooms could participate in discussions with their teachers. Teachers figured out how to use smart boards to put information on to the screens of their children. As parents we learned how much patience and understanding teachers exhibit in teaching.


Meetings were held on computer screens, joining people from not only our community but also from across the province, the nation, and the world. Technology kept us together.

We also learned that in many parts of our nation, many people lacked adequate connectivity to participate in learning and sharing time with families through the internet. We learned that many families did not even have computers in their homes, preventing their children from joining in with classmates in learning.

It is a situation that needs to be fixed.

Many of us learned to bake bread once flour and yeast were available again in stores. Many of us turned to making a yeast starter.

Like many, I started a small, raised garden that provided carrots, beets, swiss chard, kale, and lettuce right through to September. But our household depended on Annie van Rozen for her vegetables that she sold from Rainy Lake Square on Thursdays. We stood in line to take our turn to purchase fresh produce from the Gerber Market. We also shopped at a market in Rainy River on Wednesday afternoons. We became spoiled by the selection and freshness of those vegetables.

Across the district, we finally realized that district beef, pork and poultry producers produced the finest meats in the land. We could depend on those producers to supply products that the larger grocery stores were having problems sourcing.

We learned that once Rainycrest was reopened for visits, there was no inconvenience in taking the COVID test. We could again visit parents and loved ones.

We now appreciate the doctors, nurses, care givers and support staff who have daily put themselves at risk to care for others. We appreciate the people who deliver mail and parcels and transport supplies to our grocery stores.

We have learned to recognize the voice of people behind masks. We have learned to wash our hands frequently and to wear masks whenever we leave our homes. We have learned to hope that with the vaccine and everyone becoming vaccinated, life will begin a new normal – different from what exists today, but never returning to what we experienced only a year ago.

Happy 2021.

Jim Cumming
Former publisher