The earth is gifting us with great beauty this month. As my husband and I travelled through western Pennsylvania and then Michigan, from south to north, we were struck with the clarity and brilliance of maples and birches donning their fall gala display. It was joy for the soul. Miles long lines of vehicles waiting to cross the bridge from the upper peninsula to points south indicated people were taking full advantage of camping and observing in the still-warm early autumn days. I hoped all that nature-bathing left many feeling more at peace in the charged climate of politics and a pandemic.
However, only days later, an armed militia group in Michigan was foiled in its attempt to take Governor Gretchen Witmer hostage because they were angry about COVID orders she had put in place. Reportedly, over 200 persons had been involved in the plot, stymied by the FBI. This uprising of white supremacist do-it-yourself “justice” is alarming. Since our current president has taken office, with his hateful rhetoric, violent acts have increased five-fold and have intensified during this time of pandemic when medical experts have often been either ignored or ridiculed.
We stopped in Menominee, Michigan for the night and took an evening walk downtown by Green Bay. As we walked, we saw a lady out walking two large and beautiful white dogs before they disappeared from view. Not long after, we were walking on the city sidewalk when we glanced into the large, darkened windows of a fancy restaurant with tables covered in white tablecloths and goblets. In surprise, my husband said, “Look! There is the lady with the white dogs!” It seemed very odd to see dogs, rather than customers, walking among those fancy tables. We assumed that restaurant had fallen on hard times due to COVID.
When we were driving through Wisconsin, a current hot spot for COVID cases, we stopped briefly at a small local cafe’ to pick up some lunch. The sign on the door asked customers to wear masks–which I did. However, once inside as I was waiting for our order, I observed that most people entered with masks, but then removed them before even sitting down at a table or booth. Seating was close, and the place was filling up. I was glad when the food came and I could exit.
Now in St. Peter, Minnesota, we feel relatively safe. Many trees are releasing their golden leaves, but spots of crimson brilliance are still emerging. Family here are in agreement as to the need for masking, as are most people we see in businesses downtown. We are in a quiet neighborhood where everyone greets each other or waves, and there is plenty of open space to walk. We are glad to be here for a month before returning home to the warmer South.