Laurie Button

Once upon a time, songwriter James Taylor recorded words that continue to resound with those of us who have lived in the Estes Valley for many years: “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” But a pandemic? Give me a break! Wait a minute—I guess our governor has done that with the “Stay-At-Home” order now in effect until at least April 12th.

This is a time of great uncertainty and stress for many in our community and that’s something we certainly can’t afford to take lightly. There have been many times in my life when I’ve lived from paycheck to paycheck and struggled against the odds to make ends meet. It’s not easy in the best of times and definitely difficult in times like these.

We need to keep health care and emergency personnel in our thoughts and prayers and make a conscious effort to support local businesses when we’re able. The food and beverage providers are on the forefront of this situation, but we also have to remember and think about the downtown shop owners and employees of the many lodges that exist in our community.

I retired in 2016 and today my part-time job at Macdonald Bookshop is actually a means to maintain contact with the outside world while making a little extra money in the process. (Also, so that—much to my husband’s disdain—I can feed my passion for acquiring books.) But our family’s livelihood is dependent upon local restaurants—Joel is in the trenches repairing the ovens, freezers, and pizza ovens that fuel our food providers. So, when they take a hit such as this—so do we. If there’s a silver lining to any part of the current situation, it’s how the people of Estes Park have banded together to make the best of a challenging time.

If you find yourself online, be sure to check out the Facebook page titled Estes Park Take-Out and Delivery Options Amid COVID-19. Launched by the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce shortly after bars, restaurants, and liquor stores were forced to resort to take-out and delivery operations for survival, the site attracted more than five hundred members on its first day. As of Monday, March 30th that number has grown to fourteen hundred. This Facebook destination has become a gathering place for local eating establishments to post their new hours, menus, and delivery options. The public has responded by posting reviews, tantalizing photos of the cuisine, and encouragement for a significant portion of Estes Park’s workforce: restaurant owners and their employees.

The overwhelming response should come as no surprise: We live in Estes Park. Our community has overcome more than its share of natural disasters and challenges through the years.

You might remember that I contributed a weekly column to The Estes Park News for several years. While there were a few exceptions, I always tried to reflect upon the lighter side of life. My goal in the coming weeks is to follow that format . . . By sharing—when we can find them—the more amusing aspects of the pandemic that is sweeping not only our town, but the state, nation, and the world.

We’re all coping with COVID-19 in different ways. In that vein, I’d like to reflect upon just a couple of things.

First, experts are suggesting that while following stay-at-home orders it’s important to develop a routine. For instance, get up in the morning at your usual time; shower and get dressed. No—don’t stay in your pajamas all day (or as in my case sweatpants and sweatshirts). And remember to follow the rule our parents preached to us when we were kids: Always wear clean underwear; you never know when you might be in an accident or need to go to the hospital. Set a schedule of daily activities and stick to it. Don’t be distracted by the temptation to simply curl up on the couch to watch the vast lineup of movies available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney Plus.

My husband simply shook his head when I handed him three pages of potential household projects we could attack while we’re sequestered. There’s no way we can ever accomplish even a portion of the items, but at least the list offers inspiration. One of the most enlightening posts I’ve seen on Facebook expresses my thoughts perfectly: “After years of wanting to thoroughly clean my house but lacking the time, this week I discovered that wasn’t the reason.” But nonetheless, I’m forging on and battling both dust and cluttered closets just the same. I hope local thrift stores will have extra staff on hand when their doors reopen.

As for Joel, he had settled into his own daily routine and a few days ago decided it was time for a change. While I normally get up at 5 a.m., he usually arises anytime between 7 and 9. His first stop is at the coffeemaker (where he pushes aside my now water-stained list of projects) and then it’s out to the garage and into his man cave. After settling into a recliner (his canine companion, Jake, in the overstuffed chair at his side), he turns on the television and is prone to losing track of time. It might be three hours later when he meanders back into the house to get ready for the day which is now almost half over.

So it was that Joel announced he was going to “turn over a new leaf.” And he’s truly making an effort. Earlier this week he actually began cleaning and reorganizing his workbench (which is no small task), while only being distracted occasionally by the You Tube videos he’s addicted to watching.

In closing, I have one other observation to share. It’s been heartwarming to note how national and local retailers are offering special business hours for at-risk and vulnerable populations. Since we’re both in our sixties, Joel and I fit into that category. Normally my favorite time to shop at Safeway is 6 a.m. on Sundays. I usually see the same people there every week at that hour. Most of us are wearing baseball caps and I know that personally, I do everything I can to avoid being recognized in my disheveled early morning attire.

But a week or so ago on Tuesday I ventured into town about 7:30 a.m. First stop: the ATM at our credit union to deposit a check. That went off without a hitch. Then I thought I’d go to the grocery store to pick up a few things. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake. From the number of cars in the parking lot, you would have thought it was mid-July. It was a struggle to even find a parking place. Once inside, it was almost as hard to navigate the crowded aisles due to the number of people shopping. So, this is my question. Isn’t it sort of counter-productive to take a large segment of those theoretically at highest risk and cram them into the same building all at once? Trust me—there was very little, if any, social distancing taking place. In the future, if I have to go to the store, I’ll take my chances at another time and not on days designated for those sixty and over or with pre-existing medical conditions.

More than enough said for one column. We can, and will, meet this challenge head-on. And as we persevere, please keep yourselves and your families safe.

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