It's a nice little column about life in northern Minnesota. There's talk about colorful autumn leaves, elusive rodents and antics of animals both wild and domestic. A story about mowing the lawn might describe a person's thoughts getting lost in the hum of the motor, the crisp fall air, the pattern of the fallen leaves and the smell of newly cut grass.
It all seems so trivial, now.
Granted, it has always been trivial. A usually lighthearted diversion from the more serious news to look at life from an Up North perspective. An occasional important message about the environment, spaying and neutering pets or the extraordinary work teachers do for our community. The most serious moment might be a deadline-day call to the editor about whether the cat photo was appropriate to accompany that week's column.
But it was part of the routine.
Then everything changed; our perspective, our priorities, and the way we look at our world, our country and our surroundings. Northern Minnesota still feels very safe, but safety doesn't just refer to break-ins and muggings anymore. Not when thousands of unsuspecting people have been lost in four swift blows, before the rest of us could even catch our collective breath.
The people closest to ground zero aren't smelling cut grass and thinking about fallen leaves. No, they're inhaling asbestos and small particles of buildings. They are thinking about people they love who are missing or dead, or they are replaying those horrifying images in their minds.
Coming up with an idea for a column is difficult when thoughts inevitably wander back to the powerful images we've seen, the incredible stories we've heard and the devastating loss we've all felt.
A glance outside -- at the songbirds at the feeder, the dogs chasing a Frisbee and playing in the plastic pool, or the deer leaping into the woods with white flag tails held high -- and it looks as though nothing has changed. As far as the animals and plants are concerned, everything is the same as it was the day before.
Unlike the animals and the plants around us, we are blessed with the ability to think and to reason. So we have to face what has happened, how it has changed us and where we go from here.
We do what we can to help. We grieve for those who have lost. We express anger at those who could willingly cause such destruction of human life. We place our confidence and our faith in our leaders. And we pray for strength to face whatever comes next.
(Diane McCormack is a correspondent for The Brainerd Dispatch and a freelance writer living in north central Minnesota. Send comments or feedback to email@example.com.)
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