For the past several years, I’ve spent the last weekend of February in Memphis. The Mid-South Farm and Gin Show has become an annual tradition for our family, and we always look forward to having a good time with friends, some whom we see just once a year.
Of course, an in-person Gin Show wasn’t in the cards this year. Another victim of COVID-19. Organizers made the most of the situation with virtual presentations and sponsor messages delivered through a user-friendly website. The program was put together well, but it was a stark reminder of how much the world has changed in just a year’s time.
Last year’s Farm and Gin Show, along with the 2020 Commodity Classic (held the same weekend in San Antonio), were two of the last big in-person events in the agricultural industry. When I think back to that weekend, I can still remember lively discussions with fellow conference go-ers on the looming virus. It was also the first time I can recall seeing anyone “mask up.” A few weeks later our nation was under lockdown.
It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I don’t know if anyone attending the 2020 Farm and Gin Show could have predicted life as we know it today. Hopefully, we’re about to turn a corner on this pandemic and return to more normalcy in the coming months. In the spirit of positive thinking, I’ve tried to reflect on the good, not the bad, that has come out of this past year. It was hard, but I did think of a few positive outcomes.
For example, I learned the new way to do math. When the pandemic started, I was blissfully unaware that I was doing basic arithmetic incorrectly. Apparently, “carrying the one” is a relic from the 90s. Moonlighting as a homeschool teacher provided the opportunity to correct this major shortcoming.
I’m also pretty adept at estimating temperatures. I think the back of my hand is calibrated within a tenth of a degree of our thermometer. And using my new math skills, it only takes me about 30 minutes to subtract the difference.
We stopped the meet-and-greet time at church. You know, where you sing a stanza or two of a hymn, and then you’re supposed to turn to the person on the next pew, shake their hand and say welcome, as if you weren’t just talking to them right before the singing started. It always seemed a little forced and unnatural to me and definitely not pandemic appropriate. I’d rather sing the third verse of “Amazing Grace,” anyway.
Despite these “positive outcomes,” I’m hoping we’re back to mask free, in-person gatherings by the next Gin Show, or even sooner. If it means shaking a few more hands at church, I’m more than happy to do it.