This month’s blog has not come easily. As I sit here trying to articulate my thoughts my eyes wander to the calendar and I realize what I already knew but what has become an unpleasant reality. We are almost a year to the day into this nonsense. March 13, 2020 was the last normal day. On this day we were asked to take a pause from our regular lives for a bit to let this health crisis calm down. March 13, 2021 finds us in the same place with the same initiative. And since then, virtually everything has become virtual.
I can’t count the number of meetings in which I’ve participated through a computer screen. My children, (two in high school and one in college) are all virtual. My two youngest have not set foot in a classroom since that last fateful March day. The reality of all this virtual-ness is just so boring. I’m so tired of staring at my friends, coworkers and fellow board members through a computer screen. It’s exhausting. Day in and day out, one meeting after the next we stare at each other through our computer screens hoping that no one can see my pajama bottoms, praying that my dogs don’t start barking or that the people on the other side of the screen don’t notice that we didn’t clean up from last night’s dinner yet.
Do you remember when the notion of being virtual was a futuristic concept? Recall episodes of the medical television shows past where a woman in labor is stuck in a taxi on the way to the hospital. Her frantic husband is talked through how to deliver the baby over the phone. Crazy, right? Flash forward to 2020. Your doctor is now on FaceTime delivering the play by play. It’s the next best thing to being there! All jokes about “tele-health”, it’s currently how you see your doctor. Unless you absolutely need to be seen in person, you are mostly likely seeing your doctor through the computer screen. Could we have ever predicted virtual doctor’s visits?
I wonder if once this pandemic is behind us if we will ever have a fully in person life any more. Have virtual reality, virtual meetings, virtual learning, virtual church, virtual medicine just become things that we do now? Gosh I hope not. I am so sick and tired of everything virtual. All screen time, all the time. I, for one, am so ready to sit in a room together without a mask on and to gather for babies, weddings, birthdays, trade shows and holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas Zoom were things this past year. Let’s hope they’re not next year.
At the same time, this weird virtual reality that are all living in has made us immune to the normalcy our pre-Covid lives provided. I often find myself watching TV or a movie where the cast is gathered with no one in mask. Loved ones are hugging and kissing each other and restaurants are packed. Each time I see this it gives me pause. It’s like remembering a time that has long since been lost. I just hope it isn’t gone forever. There is hope for our future though. As I type this, I have recently returned from Florida where life is largely the same as it has always been. It’s both disconcerting to have so few rules and comforting to know that life can be normal again. It’s like a peek into our future.
Virtual this. Virtual that. Agh! Doesn’t it just make you want to scream? But you know what is not virtual? The daily grind of growing trees. The first spring orders have already started to be dug. The first delivery of liners has arrived and will soon be planted. The first application of dormant oil has already been applied. NONE of this can be done virtually. Yes, we can sell remotely. Yes, we can do administrative work remotely but we cannot plant, grow, care for, dig or load trees in a virtual setting. It’s like our industry and so many other facets of the agricultural life have thumbed our noses as the notion of working from home. It simply cannot be done.
It’s a strange dichotomy to live through this pandemic as an essential worker. On one hand, you are told that you can’t go to church, you can’t travel, you can’t sit inside at your favorite restaurant but you can and should continue to report for duty to make sure the trees for which we have been growing for so many years can be harvested and shipped on time. I don’t think that my job as a tree grower is more important than my friends who own and manage restaurants but somehow we have been dealt a better Covid hand and have been encouraged to keep working despite the dangers that the Coronavirus presents to society. It’s a weird world we live in, that’s for sure.
Right now, we are gearing up for spring. Days will be long and tempers will be short. This will be the second pandemic spring. Last year it was all so new, we had no idea how to react. It seemed like every day brought a new set of rules and a new way of doing things. React and pivot were our new buzzwords. One year later, we’re still here. We are reacting, pivoting, thriving and hopefully looking toward the future. We have made it this far. Some of us have been lucky enough to have already been vaccinated, many more of us are in line next. This will all soon be over. I would like to ask a big favor of all my regular blog readers. Guys, let’s not fall prey to the comfort and ease of virtual gatherings. I propose we get together often! Let’s go to ball games, happy hours, have employee picnics where we clink bottles. Let’s travel to see our loved ones, enjoy our trade shows, attend seminars and visit our neighbors with the enthusiasm we once had.
I hope we’ll see everyone at Ruppert Nurseries soon. Because it’s been a virtual eternity since we’ve seen most of you. And I for one, am ready to welcome our friends, our customers and even our competitors to our farm again.
Ronda Roemmelt Sneider, CPH
ISA Certified Arborist MA-5274A
Ruppert Nurseries Sales Manager/Mid Atlantic Sales