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Randy’s pandemic
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - Randy was not a happy camper. In fact, he wasn’t going to be a camper at all this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. Camp Wahoo, the camp  that he had been looking forward to attending, was cancelled as a result of the virus. This was just the latest disappointment in a string of letdowns in the spring, and now summer, of 2020. 

Many adjustments had been necessary as the pandemic developed across the country, and indeed, the globe. For Randy having school at home was a huge change. His teachers did all they could to help students progress with their studies, but it just wasn’t the same. 

Randy missed being with his friends in person; being together ‘virtually’ was getting old. Randy yearned to be able to participate in group activities like sports, casually socialize with friends, and just enjoy the freedom of moving around. 

Then Randy’s mom informed him one day that he was going to be staying with his aunt for the summer. Aunt Judy lived on a small farm near a small town a few hours away.

“Aunt Judy could use your help,” his mom explained, “and you need a change of pace from being cooped up here in the city.”

Randy wasn’t happy about going away for the summer and being even further away from his friends. But the weekend after school ‘ended,’ and eighth grade was in the rear view mirror, he found himself in a whole different culture.

Aunt Judy was Randy’s ‘Earthy Aunt.’ Unlike her urban dwelling siblings, she had gravitated to the country, lived on a small diversified farm and did various part-time jobs for income. She lived simply and as self-sustainably as she could and was happy as a clam with her down-to-earth lifestyle.

So many changes occurred to Randy as he arrived at Serendipity Farm, Judy’s homestead. For starters, Randy’s ‘room’ was in the loft of the small cabin where Judy lived. Judy did not have a computer or cable TV, two basic connections that Randy relied on heavily in his city life. Randy was expected to help with cabin-work and meal preparation, something that wasn’t asked of him at home.

Judy took Randy into town that first day and proudly introduced her nephew to many local people. She seemed to know everyone. They went to the library where Randy was encouraged to check out books he liked, although he had never been a big reader. The librarian helped Randy find a few books that were popular with others his age. The library did have computers! So he could connect with his friends that way when time allowed. The library was a short bike ride from the farm.

That first night at the farm was a preview of what was to come. After a scrumptious, hearty meal, most of which was produced right on the farm, Judy and Randy talked about the routines of living on the farm. Then they read for a while.  Judy had hundreds of books and several great reading spots in the cabin. Randy looked over his books, selected one about baseball, and was amazed, an hour later, that he had immediately been drawn into the story.

Then it was lights out, way earlier than Randy was used to, and he went to sleep to the sound of a whippoorwill somewhere nearby.

More next week.