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OPINION | Lisa Kelley-Gibbs: Covid canceled one year in Piggott, but bright side exists

A missed year has bright spot by LISA KELLEY-GIBBS My Roots Are Showing | March 2, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

My birthday is right around the corner, and I'll be a year younger this year. That's right, a year YOUNGER. I have finally found the proverbial fountain of youth, and it was under my nose all the while in Piggott, Ark.

Uncle Ronnie knows my age because it coincides with the number of years the annual Piggott FFA Farm Sale has occurred at the Clay County Fairgrounds. Since 1974, on the first Saturday of April, folks gather from near and far in a trampled hay field to buy each other's rusty tools and implements they didn't know they needed until that morning. Every. Single. Year. Save for one.

Not many people could find Piggott, Ark., on a map, and fewer have set foot there, so it was a surprise to many that a tiny virus from China managed to do it. Now, to be fair, I venture to say most folks in Piggott would be hard pressed to find Wuhan, China, on a map, not without some prompting by Google and Alexa. But the good citizens of Clay County and the vicious virus had a "meet cute" at the very moment the sale was set to occur.

I suspect a fair number wanted to hold the sale anyway. After all, tradition is hard to break, and old farmers are tougher yet. But when the world shut down unlike anything ever experienced, the sale shut down, too. Well, they probably thought they'd postpone it for a few weeks, let this thing blow over, then get back to the real business of swapping wares and tall tales.

But it didn't blow over. Weeks turned into months, and months and months and months. As life has somewhat returned to the way it was prior to March 16, 2020, it feels surreal to me at times that it actually happened -- that so many manners of living we took for granted and people we cared for vanished. That so much of life cannot return to the way it was pre-pandemic because those folks are no longer here, and the ones left behind haven't fully healed from it, even though the world is turning again.

So much loss has occurred from covid-19, and I do not seek to minimize or be dismissive by what I'm about to say, as I have dear friends struggling to cope in its aftermath. For me, in the midst of so much darkness, I try desperately to seek the light, however faint it might be. The darker the night, the brighter the light, such that a flicker can be seen from afar.

A flicker bringing me a smile is that the ball caps for this year's farm sale read "48th Annual Piggott FFA Farm Sale," even though we all know it's been 49 years in the making. I'm "Benjamin Buttoning" in Piggott, growing a year younger according to the hat. I reckon spending time with my uncle in a field did that all along for my soul.

Print Headline: Piggott slows time


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