As Vermont and the Mad River Valley take the first tentative steps toward reopening businesses and day cares that were closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels a bit scary.

Vermont’s two-month COVID-19 lockdown was very effective in flattening the curve of disease transmission, keeping our hospitals from being overwhelmed and protecting vulnerable populations. In terms of following the directive to Stay Home, Stay Safe, we did. The empty parking lots of our shopping centers and businesses attested to that.

And, as we reopen, we have levelheaded state leaders who continue to monitor the virus as more businesses, organizations and public parks, forests and beaches reopen. That monitoring will be ongoing, presumably until there’s a vaccine.

But it is definitely not business as usual, or business pre-COVID-19, due to the need to maintain proper social distancing, the need to wear masks and have hand-sanitizing stations in every business. Even with these precautions, plenty of people are leery about venturing out into public after so many days of staying home to stay safe.

After weeks of rushing through things like the post office and the bank (via drive-thru) and weeks of getting through the grocery shopping as fast and efficiently as possible – while staying 6 feet from other people – it’s hard to imagine a time when we will once again chat with people at the post office or meander the aisles and endcaps of the grocery store delighting in new products or special items.

We’re going to have to learn to trust this new normal and we’re going to have to make our way back out into this brave new world. We need to because we need to support each other and our local businesses.

Here’s hoping for a stellar summer, albeit one without the Warren Fourth of July parade. Here’s hoping for an excellent, if nontraditional, Harwood Union graduation ceremony. Here’s hoping for the success of the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market and a successful season for local farmers, greenhouses and home gardeners.

Let’s continue to take it slowly, embracing spring and the prospect of summer as we take these baby steps out of our houses.