Saara Itkonen has been the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public Library since the beginning of October. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

Saara Itkonen has been the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public Library since the beginning of October. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

Lit: Instructions on Not Giving Up

‘I think we all need to take a moment to recognize what we’ve been going through and why we should still have hope and optimism.’

By Saara Itkonen, Director of the Creston Valley Public Library

Well, it happened. Over Spring Break, my family traveled down to the Lower Mainland to visit family and friends we hadn’t seen in over two years and we caught COVID-19. I had the pleasure of also catching a bad chest cold just as I was recovering, so if you didn’t see me much during April, that’s why.

I’m so thankful for vaccinations keeping us all alive and for rapid tests that allowed my family to know what was going on. Inexplicably, my six-year-old didn’t get sick at all and also never tested positive despite sharing a house with two very sick adults, which of course was lots of fun for everyone. And by “lots of fun” I, of course, mean none at all.

After over two years of navigating through this pandemic, both at home and at the library, it comes as some relief that we’ve personally been through the worst. Although, I know this isn’t the case for many out there, especially those in high-risk demographics. So you’ll still see some of our patrons, staff, and volunteers wearing masks and being careful and it’s important to remember that everyone’s circumstances are different and we still need to respect and take care of each other, wherever we’re at.

Even though this will be published in the paper at the beginning of May, I’m writing in April, which is still National Poetry Month. With it being spring and all of us emerging from our homes after winter to share our pandemic survival stories, I’m reminded of one of my favourite poems. It’s called “Instructions on Not Giving Up” and it’s written by Ada Limón, a multi-award winning Mexican-American poet. I’m sharing it here because maybe it strikes a cord with you too. I think we all need to take a moment to recognize what we’ve been going through and why we should still have hope and optimism.

Instructions on Not Giving Up

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out

of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s

almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving

their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate

sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees

that really gets to me. When all the shock of white

and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave

the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,

the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin

growing over whatever winter did to us, a return

to the strange idea of continuous living despite

the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf

unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

(Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.)

Thank goodness it’s spring. And just like the “leaf unfurling like a fist,” we’re slowly dipping our toe into adding in-person programs at the library again. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for upcoming programs and events. While you’re at it, maybe stop by to pick up some of the new books that regularly roll in. Maybe take a peek at the blooms coming up in our garden and show us your face as well. It’s been a while. A long while.

Upcoming Programs

Family Storytime – Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.

Babytime – Wednesdays at 11:15 a.m.

READ MORE: Lit: Navigating Uncertain Times

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