The Herald presents the 2020 Best Of Leadville & Twin Lakes publication this week. Thanks to all of our advertisers and award winners who made this colorful tribute to the best of Lake County possible!

It comes as no surprise that the pandemic is embedded in every page of this year’s publication. I found the four-way tie in the “best hope for 2021” category particularly compelling.

Locals identified “the end of COVID-19,” “normalcy,” “freedom,” and “coming together” as their primary hopes for 2021, each of which can be understood in a myriad of ways.

The end of COVID-19

Diminishing case counts, growing vaccination numbers, easing public health guidelines, the reopening of community spaces and economic recovery are just a few ways to measure the end of the pandemic. As of May 3, more than 3,000 Lake County residents had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, one promising local data point to this end.

Yet many consequences of the pandemic cannot easily be quantified: the psychological and neurological impacts of isolation, child learning loss, transformed family structures, the normalization of a virtual workplace, the emotional exhaustion of widespread loss. How do we determine, or even hope for, an end to such impacts of COVID-19? Perhaps we can’t.

Normalcy

Does a return to normalcy mean the end of masks and social distancing, heading back to schools and offices, and reuniting with family and friends? Or does it mean something else entirely?

Instead of returning to the activities, places and people we once found normal, maybe we are craving normalcy as a condition — the feeling one settles upon when one knows exactly what to expect.

Freedom

I’ve often pondered what Herald readers meant when they wrote “freedom” as a hope for 2021 in our Best Of Leadville & Twin Lakes poll. Did survey respondents mean freedom from fear of sickness, from mask mandates, from the walls of our homes, or from the responsibilities added to our lives during the pandemic?

One understanding of freedom we can all agree on is the right to control our own lives — the opportunity to live without external circumstances like COVID-19 binding us to the ground.

Coming together

And lastly, how do we come together in 2021, and in what capacity?

My best guess here is that readers hope Lake County will find ways to unite physically and ideologically in 2021, whether through in-person celebrations or through the upholding of common values. I too hope folks are able to come together this year, to join hands and hearts and minds in mending the divisions that 2020 sowed.

Welcoming Ajax’d

The Herald welcomes Ajax’d to the newspaper’s pages this week, a comic strip created by John Hinterreiter and Spencer McKnight. The comic, which is published in several Colorado mountain town newspapers, follows the bumbling adventures of Ajax, a mischievous, walking, talking black bear.

We hope Ajax and his dynamic cast of friends and associates, including Blue-Bonnet, Dr. Bunny and Officer Friendly, bring readers a smile and a laugh each week.

Rachel Woolworth

Herald Editor

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