This weekend’s weather is as mixed as the feelings many of us experience on a holiday weekend like none we have ever seen before. Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover or just like to enjoy an extra day off work, everything is different these days. The usual trips and family gatherings are on hold, as we all stay home. For essential outings we try to maintain physical distance – and then there’s all that hand washing. Financial worries, uncertainty about the future, concern for our friends’ and family members’ health – it’s a stressful time.
On the plus side, we live in a very caring community where volunteers step up to help others in many different ways. Our connected world provides us with links to each other through cell phones, internet, radio and television. Here in the Valley people are acting true to form – helping one another, checking on neighbours and generally respecting these new rules we live by.
I’m not surprised. All my life I’ve heard about the close knit Valley society. One of my family’s stories hints at this kindness and compassion for our neighbours, whoever they may be or wherever they hail from. My great great grandfather Connor Dwyer arrived from Ireland in 1848, cleared land, built a cabin and, come spring, sowed his crops. He’d sent for his wife to join him and Catherine O’Connor arrived just as he finished bringing in the first harvest. He hoisted the wheat on his back and, because he was walking to the mill, he said he’d be back in two days with flour to feed them through the winter. When he returned, (as the family lore goes) “he found tha’ auld heifer a-sittin’ on a stump.” Translation: Connor found Catherine waiting for him, huddled beside a blackened clearing where his cabin had been burned to the ground by an Irish lass who only knew how to mind peat fires. Winter was coming on and they were left with nothing. Doubtless many descendants of the Dwyer clan in the Valley today are here thanks to the kindness of neighbours who took them in that winter — folks who probably had little to spare themselves. And that’s the Valley way.
So when somebody complains about not keeping physical distance, or why snowbirds are returning now, let’s just remind them gently that things are different this year. And let’s remember our traditions here. We are all in this together.