By Peggy Bakken

No question we’ve been handed bushels full of lemons this spring. Between staying at home as much as possible and worrying about the global pandemic, we have hit upon a sour note.

Through it all, I’ve been impressed with the many people and businesses taking this crisis in stride, finding creative and innovative ways to make lemonade.

We’ve heard about local companies switching gears to produce necessary products. Distilleries and breweries have found they can make hand sanitizer. Manufacturing outfits have adapted their processes to make face shields or shields for cashiers. Ford, General Motors and Tesla have started to manufacture ventilators. Clothing manufacturers quickly evolved to make hospital gowns.

As individuals, we’ve also jumped in to turn our lemons into lemonade. People who haven’t touched a sewing machine in years – or perhaps ever – are making face masks by the hundreds.

Metro Transit and Metro Mobility have shifted gears to help with deliveries for food shelves, bringing groceries to the homebound and providing rides to and from work for health professionals. Similar actions are taking place across the state, as organizations and public entities find ways to help its friends and neighbors.

Our neighborhood website is filled with people offering to help with grocery shopping and other chores. I’ve had many of them reach out to us to see if we need help. (Somewhat concerned – do they think we are old or something?)

Along with the lemonade, others are finding ways to entertain us and sweeten our souls. The Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are offering free, online at-home performances and repeats of previous concerts. Local musicians play on their front steps or sing opera from their balconies.

Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Garth Brooks to Brad Pitt are singing for us or making us laugh. Classical musicians are gathering on Zoom to create choirs and orchestras. And oh that incredible Andrea Bocelli performance from Milan on Easter Sunday!

Famous chefs from around the world are doing cooking shows. We’re getting exercise videos and yoga lessons from experts in their fields.

Social media is filled with hilarious videos of families juggling kids, work and the challenges of every day life. We really need some laughs.

These many good things are helping us through the challenges of this so-not-everyday life. I feel for moms and dads with young children who need continuous attention as they work through math and reading assignments on their computer or iPad. At the same time, the parents are trying to put in a day’s work.

Mostly though I think about the health care workers, who we are so dependent upon, to get up and go out the door every day, putting their lives on the line. And it’s not just the doctors and nurses – there are many others that support a medical facility, from the cleaning crew and kitchen staff to the administrative personnel. It’s been rewarding to see the many clever ways people are offering their thanks to these folks, from drive-by parades to the clanking of the pans from balconies at shift change. I hope you got to see the Minnesota National Guard’s flyovers May 6. It was quite a sight to see the massive C-130 Hercules gliding along, flanked by two F-16 Fighting Falcons. Just awesome.

Like everyone else, I long for the day when life will get back to normal. I promise to stop at every kid’s stand that I ever drive by again in my life.

Until then, we need to enjoy that virtual glass of lemonade our friends and neighbors are serving up. Thank you all.

— Peggy Bakken is a former executive editor and a columnist for APG-East Central Minnesota. Reactions welcome:

Load comments