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Our doors are open to new beginnings and to you

We are back.

I mean, we never left, really. But like so many other businesses and offices, we took our extended break from doors being open, choosing to work remotely from our teenager’s room down in the basement, the living room couch and the bedroom-converted-office-converted-classroom (with some really cool Zoom backdrop that makes you look as pixelated as a flip-phone photo).

Each week seemed to bring about new directions (sometimes coming from the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, others coming from the rock stars over at San Juan Basin Public Health), new fears, new challenges and lots of uncertainties. But we tried to stay the course, offering up new programs and finding new organizations in our community with which we partnered.

That course was far from steady. My river had all sorts of rapids, and if it wasn’t for all of those on the boat – my wife, my kids, friends, family, office staff members (and did I mention my wife?) – we surely would have tipped more often than we did. COVID-19 rolled through our house multiple times; there was at least one kid whose cohort (I really hope I never have to use the word “cohort” again) was quarantined for like 10 straight weeks; a 40th and a 10th birthday were spent in quarantine; and at least 10 puzzles were completed.

But like so many of you, we endured and grew. We learned to love each other a little bit more and had a better understanding of what disappointment, frustration and unknowing feel like. We survived 40-plus hours in a car, traversing five states, and all kids came back with new visions of what our country looks like and a disdain for parental podcasts.

Similar to my family, our office also adapted, and as we move forward with open doors, we will have hopefully grown from that same disappointment, frustration and fear of the unknown. We discovered new audiences and new ways to teach. And while we start moving back into the in-person model, I still see value in being able to reach people from across the county, state and even country who are excited about what we do.

Moving forward, I am excited to visit many of you and check out your gardens and farms, inspect your struggling tree and maybe provide some help identifying that annoying weed, hungry insect or that four-legged foe that keeps destroying your shrub. I am excited to teach classes like Backyard Food Production and the Colorado Master Gardener course, and hopefully, I will introduce a new series of classes based on an idea an aforementioned master gardener had while answering so many questions at the Durango Farmers Market that started with the phrase: “So we just moved here …”

I hope that we learn from our mistakes and never wind up in this situation again. Too many lives were lost (and continue to be) and families were broken. We saw the ugly side of where our country can go when under immense stress. And while we are not fully past this remarkable time in history, I know that the birds are still singing and the sun is still shining. On all of us.

Now come visit me – our door is open.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at darrin.parmenter@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464.