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What a big difference a year can make

What was on your mind this time a year ago?

You probably were thinking about sending your children or grandchildren back to school. Maybe, if you were gardening, you were concerned about conditions that were too hot and dry. Chances are fairly good that you had made some recent memories at Blame My Roots country music festival, the Italian Festival in downtown Wheeling or at Betty Zane Days in Martins Ferry.

I’d be willing to bet you weren’t focused on whether you and your family had enough clean face masks to make it through the coming week. You also probably weren’t worried about how to stay at least 6 feet away from other customers in the grocery store. None of us was worried about whether we were infected with COVID-19, and illness that had not yet been heard of at that point.

As I was reflecting on some of the conditions we are facing today, I took time to look back and see what was on my mind a year ago.

In August 2019, I was busy battling the bean-eating bunnies of Belmont. You see, Mike and I had our annual garden planted, but we didn’t put up a fence last year. As a result, all of my green bean plants were tempting targets for some hungry critters. I never did catch rabbits in the act of chewing on those tender plants, but I remain confident they were the culprits.

Something stripped all the blossoms and beans from the plants and ate most of the leaves as well. The plants eventually recoivered and we did get to eat some beans, but we learned our lesson and put up a fence this year. We still have no shortage of bunnies in the neighborhood.

The coming school year also was on my mind about a year ago. Our staffers were working on our Pigskin Preview in anticipation of football season. Our reporters also were writing about back-to-school shopping, how to prepare youngsters to ride the school bus for the first time and about new programs local schools were launching.

Those topics remain important this August, but the focus has shifted to whether students will learn in classrooms or at home. It remains unclear just how many students will be taught in an individual classroom, how lunch periods and recess breaks will be managed and whether classes will be held every day of the week.

Some other ordinary things were taking up my thoughts last August. For one thing, I had a little trouble with my car. A trip to get new tires took me back to the days of my childhood. My dad, the late Jim Compston, worked as a machinist and did all of his own mechanical work on our family vehicles. I spent a lot of time around auto shops and parts stores, helping him or just hanging around to watch.

Buying those tires got me to thinking about getting my car ready for winter in general, and that’s something that’s on my mind again now.

About this time last year, we learned that Union Local School District did not have enough players to field a soccer team that could complete in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament. With only eight players on the team, organizers pressed forward to ensure they would have the chance for exercise and practice even though they needed 11 players for an official team.

This August, high school and junior high athletics are uncertain for everyone. Rules and recommendations issued to help keep everyone as safe as possible from the new coronavirus may make competition between school teams difficult if not impossible.

Finally, last August, I had spent some time enjoying some of the delicious food and delightful settings that the Ohio Valley has to offer. I was lucky enough to have a pair of tickets to the Sons of Italy’s weekly Thursday Pasta Night in Bellaire. I got those meals to go, but had the chance to chat with several people I know while I waited for them to be prepared.

My only regret was that I didn’t stay and enjoy my meal on site. The Sons’ lodge provides a warm and friendly atmosphere that I believe must be reminiscent of some of the members’ experiences in Italy. But, since I was sharing dinner with a co-worker, I took the food back to the office.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, I could return to the lodge this August and again get some pasta and sausage or meatballs to go. Eating on site would not be an option, however, as the Sons are only offering carryout service at this time.

In addition to that experience, last August I also was looking forward to attending the annual walking tours of historic Mount Pleasant. I was eager to visit locations such as the 1814 Meeting House and the Friends Church’s Samuel Gill House, the Tin Shop, the Elizabeth House and others.

I didn’t get the chance to do that after all, and the opportunity won’t present itself again this year, thanks to COVID-19.

I don’t know what you are thinking about right now, but looking back and reflecting on things as the were a year ago might be a good idea. Although you may feel disappointed that you can’t visit the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival or the full Belmont County Fair this year, not everything has changed.

Taking a look back may help you put things in perspective. There’s a good chance you still need to prepare in some way for the coming school year. Maybe your car needs attention before winter. Perhaps reminiscing will help you build hope for the future.

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