Wyoming book club time capsule captures coronavirus times

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – “COVID be darned – it’s not gonna take our book club away!” cried Nanci Turner Steveson as her parent-daughter book club prepared to bury a time capsule last week at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Though they have held their monthly meetings virtually since March, Oct. 26 was the first time in months club members had met in person, inspired to capture the pandemic atmosphere after reading a book called “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise,” in which a family buries a time capsule.

“We were talking about, you know, what will we think in five years about the pandemic,” Turner Steveson said, “and so then we read that book and we thought, ‘Let’s do a time capsule.’”

The group filled a plastic box, with the words “TIME CAPSULE” on one side and “READ” on the other, with letters to their future selves, photos, a toilet paper roll, hand sanitizer, a ski pass, a church bulletin and a copy of the Jackson Hole Daily, all secured inside by turquoise duct tape.

“Everyone in my family wrote me a letter in five years,” said Finna Halsey, 12. “And then we just got a Ruth Bader Ginsburg sticker to put in it to remind of that part of the time. And then I have a tracing of my hand and a few pictures of me and my dog. … I also did a list of my favorite things and just things that were important to me to see how that will have stayed the same and changed.”

The hole for the time capsule had been dug a couple of weeks earlier – fortunately, since last Monday’s temperatures were in the 20s and snow was on the ground. The book group members gathered outside in beanies and puffer jackets. They all said something they were grateful for in this difficult year and then lowered the capsule into place, where it will rest for the next five years, each person throwing in handfuls of dirt.

As the girls are ages 9 to 13, Turner Steveson thinks it will be interesting for them to look back and remember in their own words what it was like living through a pandemic, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.

“My takeaway is that this experience has been so different for every person,” said Catherine Morahan, director of the church’s children and youth program. “Whether you’re a parent with little kids who are in preschool or you’re a student or you’re someone who’s single and feeling more lonely, there are people that have a lot less time than they did before and people that have a lot more. Kind of everyone’s grappling with this in such a different way.”

“It’s been a very, very strange time,” Turner Steveson said. “Catherine and I also really wanted to solidify for the kids that this is a really, really, really different time. This is a really odd time. And that’s OK.”

Some of the book club members think wearing masks will become normal. Others hope people won’t run out of toilet paper five years from now. A common wish was to go back to spending time in person with friends and family members by then.

“I feel like we’ve all come together a lot more than we were before,” Finna said. “And I kind of hope that that stays, like we stay as a community. Some things that we learned from this I want to stay and then other things I don’t want. … I still want to be able to hug my friends and stuff like that.”

Turner Steveson agreed that the hospitality and sense of community neighbors and friends have shown during this time has been extraordinary.

“I hope in five years that we have maintained that, that that is still there,” she said. “And I hope that we still appreciate the things that we appreciate more right now.”

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