Salmon Valley in the Time of Coronavirus

The first weekend in March, I attended a close friend’s wedding in Glacier National Park. I spent the weekend making new friends, hugging old friends, and dancing with strangers. At no point did I think about germs, mine or theirs. It would be my last ‘normal’ weekend for a while. Shortly after my return to Salmon, I learned about flattening the curve, nasal swabs, and the spread of coronavirus. Eventually, Idaho was on a stay-at-home order that would last until April 30. During that time, and the resulting re-opening stages, Salmon residents have had varying responses to the challenges that COVID-19 presents. Some of us exhausted Netflix, others quickly tired of Zoom meetings, and most of us have had ample time to think.

My repeated thoughts during the pandemic have included:
  • “Is the dog sick of me?”

  • “How far is six feet?”

  • “Does this mask make my ears look big?”

  • “Does the word “unprecedented” have no synonyms?!”

In addition to these simple thoughts, I have also taken the time to dig deeper. The summer of 2020 will stand out in our memories as Pandemic Summer, but I hope there are other lasting takeaways from this anomalous [1] time. For me, it will be remembered as the summer of picnics, learning the value of community, and developing deeper appreciation for those around me.

Lemhi County Farmer’s Market

With current CDC guidelines recommending hosting events outdoors whenever possible, I have had more picnics this year than in the rest of my life combined. On the banks of the Lemhi, trailside at Discovery Hill, or in town at Veteran’s Park, there exists no shortage of possible picnic settings in Salmon. As for supplies, the Lemhi County Farmer’s Marketis back every Saturday from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. If you miss the market, you can find local produce and food items at the newly opened Mountain Harvest Community Market. They specialize in local and organic products, along with an extensive bulk buy section. Pick up some snack, grab a blanket, and enjoy a picnic with friends against the backdrop of the Beaverheads.

Oddfellows Bakery

In addition to its beautiful setting, Salmon is also fortunate to have a strong community to help weather the current obstacles. During our times of tightest restrictions, locals organized a weekly car cruise down Main Street each Friday evening. It was an opportunity to wave to neighbors and feel connected, even in a time that prevented the normal small-town socializing. Now in Stage Four of reopening, the more stringent restrictions are gone, and Main Street is again bustling. Most restaurants and businesses are open and operating fairly normally. The Pork PeddlerShady Nook, and Junkyard Bistro have their standard outdoor seating spaces. Last Chance Pizza installed a huge shade tent over their patio to allow for more comfortable dining. Oddfellow’s Bakery rearranged to allow only sidewalk service. Hotels and lodgings are welcoming visitors, while adhering to increased sanitation and cleaning practices. Whatever the method, our community has shown resilience and flexibility as we progress through each phase.

The last four months have also ingrained in me a deeper appreciation for those around me. Many of us have had our lives disrupted to some extent, and we have gained a perspective we may not have had before. Whether it is newfound respect for teachers after months of remote learning, or gratitude for your mother’s number on speed dial as you cooked every single meal for over 100 days, I hope you, too, have found something to appreciate in this otherwise challenging time.

In the coming months, I am optimistic that Salmon will continue to adapt as necessary to whatever changes arrive. I hope we can continue to be a safe and welcoming area for responsible visitors. As you enjoy all that Salmon has to offer, please respect the vendors and locals you will encounter by wearing a mask when advisable. It is a selfless gesture that protects the more vulnerable members of our beautiful community.

[1] A clunky synonym for “unprecedented”

Special thanks for the extra photos to