Is it finally safe to say yet, out in the open, that things seem to be back to normal after two-plus years of COVID kookiness?

I’ve held off on writing this column for several weeks out of fear that, by prematurely putting this out there, I would spark some crazy re-emergence of the virus. I’d even come up with a name – ‘Revenge of the ‘Rona’. Flashbacks to my childhood, where I was routinely referred to as ‘Murph’ due to my uncanny ability to find myself in situations where anything that could go wrong usually did, were real.

And I’m glad I waited. Because even if the worst does happen and we’re forced to involuntarily ride another wave, I have somebody else I can blame.

The federal government announced this week that all remaining COVID restrictions would be lifted. That means unvaccinated international visitors will now be allowed entry into Canada without having to undergo any testing or screening. No travellers will have to prove their vaccination status before leaving or entering the country, either.

And no more masks on airplanes. As someone who had to endure a seven-hour flight to the UK earlier this year, that’s a biggie.

So, yeah… thanks, Justin Trudeau.

In reality, life as we knew it pre-pandemic has been in full flow in Haliburton County since the beginning of spring. We’ve seen it in the uptick of community events, councils meeting again in-person (albeit without yet opening to the public), and most mask mandates being lifted.

Despite working in this community for the better part of two years, I’m finding that I’m only now getting a true glimpse of what’s it’s actually like. I look back over my summer and the long list of events I’ve attended, and I must say, it feels good to be a regular reporter again, as opposed to the… whatever you want to call someone who sits inside on the phone, and attending Zoom meetings all day.

There’s been 100th birthday celebrations, tours of new and expanding businesses, the Haliburton Home and Cottage show, Minden Rotary’s 75th anniversary, HHSS’ graduation, and I even managed to get out to my firstever corn roast on Soyers Lake.

We’ve also seen the return of the ever-popular Eye on the Street feature, where myself, Sam and Lisa have taken turns approaching people out in the community to ask them about the most pressing or topical issue of the week. I’ve had a lot of fun with that, so much so that I’ve volunteered to take it on permanently. So, if you see me out and about, bobbing my head side to side, trying to make eye contact and frantically approaching anyone who even so much as gazes in my direction, you now know what’s going on.

It’s hard to believe that summer is now over, but with that comes the return of several other things we can sink our teeth into. The Haliburton County Huskies are back in action, the snowmobile club is already starting to ramp up for another season, and dare I say it… Halloween is right around the corner. The countdown is well and truly on.

Thanks for a great summer, Haliburton County.