The awning guys came today. It was like a surprise visit from faraway cousins you missed more than you realized. I had forgotten our house even had awnings. 

“What’s all that banging?” Chrissy called from her bedroom office. I was pouring coffee in the kitchen breakroom. i went to the living room lobby and saw the truck in the driveway. 

“It’s the awning guys!” I squealed. “They’re here to put up the awnings!” 

That’s what awning guys do, of course, but this is the first time they’ve done it during a global pandemic. After more than a month in near-total lockdown, it was exciting to see people I don’t live with. I pulled on some pants and bounded out to welcome them from a safe, social distance.  

I won’t reveal the awning company’s name because it’s a nonessential business under Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines, which will be eased slowly beginning May 8. The head awning guy said the stay-at-home order has him and his guys playing catch-up.   

“We’re usually about done by now,” he said. “We usually start April 1. We’ve still got about 200 houses to get to.” 

Not today. But soon. I was happy to have the awnings back, because it’s a small but significant reminder of things that can be counted on to happen as planned. Each spring, the awning guys arrive and hang them up. Each fall, the awning guys take them down and store them for the winter months.

Year in, year out, it’s a small task in the essential business of living. I don’t need awnings to tell me what season it is or to live a happy life, but I’m happy to have them at a time when time seems to have stopped. Sure, it’s a small sign of better days to come, but today it feels essential.  

The Times-Tribune is an essential business, officially and practically. Get the latest COVID-19 news here. Staff Writer Jeff Horvath has the uplifting story of a Lake Ariel family who beat COVID-19. Staff Writer Terrie Morgan-Besecker has the sad news of yet another area nursing home ravaged by coronavirus. Staff Writer James Halpin has the sorry story of a Wilkes-Barre woman who threw a tantrum when she was denied access to a Dollar Tree unless she moved the mask hanging around her neck to cover and mouth and nose. 

On the brighter side, Staff Writer Rob Tomkavage has the story of three photographers snapping portraits of families on front porches to benefit food pantries, which need our help in “normal” times. Read Rob’s story here, and support The Times-Tribune as an essential business by subscribing here.

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The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands and celebrate small victories. A win is a win.