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Column: It feels like fall again

For the first time in three years, this truly feels like fall in southeast Saskatchewan with no restrictions and with community events back on schedule. Opinion piece
Fall Supper Getty
Fall suppers are always popular in the southeast.

For the first time in three years, this truly feels like fall in southeast Saskatchewan. 

Granted, some things haven’t changed since 2019. The leaves still change colour, creating a beautiful sight before they fall from the trees. The amount of daylight gradually diminishes each day and the temperatures cool off significantly in the evenings. The winds have picked up. Farmers are out doing what they do so well each year at this time – working tirelessly to harvest the crops so they can feed the world, even if some want to make it as difficult as possible for them.  

But for the first time since 2019, we’re not entering this season talking about what we can and can’t do. Our focus isn’t on pandemic-related restrictions or what would happen if there’s a significant outbreak of cases. 

Last year we began fall without restrictions, but soon found ourselves wearing masks again and presenting proof of vaccination to enter many businesses and venues. And since we were going through a punishing wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was uncertainty hanging over our heads about what would happen next.  

(As it turned out, nothing else changed. But the vaccine mandate and restrictions remained for most services until February).   

We’re seeing a return of things that traditionally happened in September, October, November and early December. 

When kids went to school on Sept. 1, you weren’t hearing talk of altered schedules or cohorting. We haven’t been waiting nervously for something to happen that would cause the school divisions to further alter classes.  

After 2 1/2 years of uncertainty, the kids are going to school, they’re learning, they’re enjoying the company of friends and they’re participating in extracurricular activities. The teachers are able to do what they do best.  

Kids get to travel for field trips, go to provincial competitions and do the things that students did in 2019. 

Hockey season is underway with the start of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League campaign Friday night, and other levels of the game will be starting soon. We’re not hearing about return to play models or attendance caps, and we’re not worried about whether a sudden surge in cases would result in the season being put on pause.

Hockey and other sports didn’t have a pause last year in Saskatchewan, but it did happen in other provinces.

Curling, high school sports and others have had similar experiences to hockey. 

And then there are the events. Some events are happening for the first time in three years, such as the Homespun Craft Show and Sale in Carlyle and the Arcola Craft Show. It’s great to have them back. 

Others, such as the United Way Estevan’s Telethon, were able to occur amid the pandemic, but this year it will be back to normal for the first time in three years. You might still see a few pre-recorded entertainers, but most of the performances this year will be live.  

And when you walk into the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch for the telethon, hopefully it will feel like it did three years ago.

Another big annual fundraiser for the community, the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees, is also back this year. It became a popular event in the community since it started in 2013, and to the hospital foundation’s credit, it found a way to continue to host the event even after restrictions and uncertainty put the kibosh on their big attractions. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really missed that big gala supper the past couple of years.

The Estevan Model Engineer Show, which attracts people from all over North America, is also back this fall.

As for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, well, the less said about them the better, especially their offensive line.

Some things might not return after being away for two or three years, but we can be glad that so many did make a comeback.  

Yes, the shadow of COVID still lingers. Just because we don’t have widespread restrictions now doesn’t mean we won’t have them in a few weeks or at some point in the winter. We’ve seen how quickly the virus can mutate.

I think the day will come in which we’ll get back to the way things were in 2019 and earlier, but it’s going to take a long time. We have to get used to seeing people walking around wearing masks in stores and other gathering points, although the number of people wearing masks should gradually dwindle.

Widespread restrictions are finished for now, but COVID is not, and it won’t be done for some time.  

But we should still enjoy this fall and all that will happen. After all, we’ve been waiting for it for three years.