They're sifting back in like winter snow sifting through cracked old farm windows.

Like the tide that silently fills the Bay of Fundy. Like baseball fans who are quietly again filling the seats at stadiums. The feeling is, "We're back and we've missed you."

The local cafe and restaurant chairs are also filling up again.

The past year has not been fun for anyone. You all know that. In my 74 years on this globe, except for 2020, I've never been told that I couldn't do something. Well, maybe I was told that when I was in my preteens, but I've been spoiled.

Last year was a year that put the horse's bit in my mouth. I didn't like it and neither did many of my compatriots. I really doubt that anyone pro or con the politics of the virus liked living through 2020. Some protested more loudly than others, but you know what? If we're lucky, it's over.

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I was thinking of the things that most affected me last year. No longer do I take for granted the ability to hop in my rusted out pickup and head for the local watering hole for the weekly meat raffle. The place was closed.

I'll appreciate more the opportunities to gather with friends and relatives without checking first to see if anyone is sick. I can now greet the mailman through an open car window and I can buy my fishing minnows without mumbling to the cashier through a mask.

Our annual fishing trip to Canada was canceled last year and it might be canceled again this year if things don't change at the border. Last year, our fishing boat sat idle in our garage for most of the summer. There were no walleyes swimming in my boat's livewell.

I even missed the Canadian and U.S. border crossing guards who seem to have no sense of humor. I'm wondering if there will be anything left of the Canadian businesses that support their tourist industry. We can only hope.

On the local level I detect a greater appreciation of each other. If the pandemic did one thing, it made me realize how much I miss those daily contacts with friends. Even though I prize some "aloneness" in my life, I'm a social creature just like most humans and the lack of touching base with neighbors and friends didn't sit well with me.

Even some of my acquaintances who could be somewhat surly from time to time now seem to have adopted a more cordial manner. Maybe it will stick.

Our local cafe is open again! The folks I was referring to in my opening sentences are those regulars who take up the same seat every morning and start the day with a belly full of caffeine and laughs. They've been missing in action for over a year, but slowly they are sifting back into their regular chairs. They are quietly filling the void.

The scene is much like a family reunion that takes place every five years. There are things to discuss, some people are missing and won't return, some have new grandkids, some have moved to a new house.

Those are important things to know in a small community. It's the glue that binds us.

Memorial Day traffic was heavy. Lake lots that went unmowed in 2020 are now looking like parks. The gas stations, eateries and boat launches were busy. People actually were kind to each other while waiting in line at the grocery store or at the boat launch.

We can only hope that these things hang around for a bit. I believe we were all taught a lesson by the year 2020.

We all missed a lot in the past year. But, we are slowly sifting back into life. I feel like the bit has been taken from between my jaws. It feels good!

See you next time. Okay?