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From Spring to Spring: The Year of COVID

Kayla Cooper

View of IC Chapel Through Blooming Flowers

Patriot Hall and Blooming FlowersIt would be the understatement of the year to simply say "a lot has changed" between March of 2020 and March of 2021. Living through the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way communities operate on a deeply intrinsic level. We've seen how COVID has, on a large scale, impacted entire countries, international travel, governments, work places, and education. However, in the midst of these large scale changes, we can easily miss how the challenges of the pandemic have affected smaller, more localized communities. 

During March of 2020, I was a Freshman here at the Mount, and still adjusting to my first spring semester in college. The fast paced nature of the spring semester had taken me by surprise, and I often found myself briskly rushing to the library in between and after classes to preemptively study for midterms. That is, until everything seemed to come crashing to a halt: not even halfway through the semester we received the news that the Mount was was going remote for two weeks due to COVID-19. And then, two weeks turned into two months, and two months turned into the start of next fall. 

To my surprise, I still vividly remember the days preceding the official evacuation of campus; it was on the colder side for early March, the clouds hung low near the mountains, and the chill of winter had just barely started to melt. The Mount, just around that time of year, can often feel dreary. The long, cold winter wasn't quite over yet, but the warmth of spring was just beyond reach.View of IC Chapel and Cherry Blossoms

Having to leave the Mount just mere weeks before the the flowers would have bloomed, as silly as it may sound, really upset me. Sure, the weather sucked and it was cold outside, but I was really starting to find my place at the Mount! I had gotten an editorial role in Lighted Corners Art and Literary Magazine, I had found a consistent friend group just as crazy about hiking as I was, and I was excited about attending SPARC next month. The timing of when we had to leave felt like a painfully ironic symbolization of being uprooted from my new community, or rather my new home, just as I had finally settled in. 

Just over a year later, after spending last spring and summer locked inside quarantining, I am now safely attending hybrid classes at the Mountain Home. To say "a lot has changed" about the Mount would be an understatement, given that mask wearing and social distancing feels far more normal than it would getting dinner at Ott's. But one thing about the Mount that is still the same, which has not changed since the moment I stepped foot on campus, is an innate feeling of community-- even in the midst of difficult times. 

Flowers in Peace PlazaThis past week, I found myself zoning out a bit in class. Initially, I thought it was due to the stress of midterms, only to realize I was actually just marveling at the early signs of spring around campus. It hadn't occurred to me until just recently that, for the very first time, I'm watching spring bloom at the Mount and I can't help but look! Every little sign of spring has me completely enchanted; whether it be the cherry blossoms on the trees, giving view to the IC Chapel, or the flowers just beginning to sprout by Peace Plaza. 

Sure, my view of these beautiful signs of spring are a bit clouded due to my mask fogging up my glasses, but I'll take it with gratitude. There is no denying that our Mountain Home has been fundamentally impacted by the challenges COVID presented over the last year. We still have a long way to go until we can begin to navigate what "normal" will look like for our community. But for now, I am perfectly content with a foggy view of the lilies blooming outside in Peace Plaza while I study for the last of my midterms. 

As always, thanks for reading. For another perspective of COVID's impact  on our Mountain Home, be sure to check out Cara's blog from Monday

Kayla Cooper