For now as a new reality unfolds
In the pandemic’s silence there are many sounds, a cacophony of voices, really, emerging from beneath the superficial soundscape that hides the deeper conversations we have chosen to ignore, passively or actively — the conversations that more fully reveal who we are as a polymorphic culture, where and how we live, the truer, deeper nature of the human soul.
Those are conversations to which we at this magazine are deeply committed, realities we want to explore even more, now that the world has fundamentally changed.
This loosely defined Holiday Guide is our first effort to resume publication of Valley of the Moon magazine since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many of our advertisers, closed most of our retail distribution points and fractured our fragile financial footing.
You are reading this now, we want to be very clear, because all the companies — businesses and individuals — advertising in these pages did so because they believe in the mission and voice of this magazine and want to support it. In turn, we all need to believe in and support them. Believing in them does not mean they each have to align perfectly with all our personal, moral, or political agendas. It means that their business success is our business success, the business success of our community, which right now needs all the help it can get.
And without a healthy local economy, Sonoma will incrementally cease being Sonoma.
So let’s spend a few words talking about community. We are, together, entering what may be the most perilous period of our collective lives. The next three or four winter months will define the next three or four years that follow. How we respond to COVID-19, how seriously we take it, and how we respond to the threat it poses to us individually and as a community, could shape us for decades to come. That doesn’t mean we will be measuring our future security simply by how many Sonoma Valley lives are lost to the pandemic. But it does mean that how well we fare in the future — as a caring community — will be revealed by how well we care for, support, nurture, feed and house those most in need among us now. And there are many.
We are all so intimately connected, even when we can’t touch each other, that — like the proverbial butterfly effect — little actions can have enormous consequences. And that is more than a metaphorical reality. Consider a typical series of connections: The student is connected to the family and the teacher and the baker and the babysitter and the banker and the grocer and the mother, who is connected to the father and the neighbor and the postal worker who delivers a package touched by someone who hoisted a gas station pump handle touched by a high schooler on his way home from a party where he connected to 25 of his and her closest friends, each of whom touched a member of their family or a teacher or the guy behind the counter at the 7-11 who sold him or her a six pack of soda in a shiny plastic wrap. And not all of them wore masks.
One COVID transmission somewhere in that series of interactions can spread exponentially in every direction. By now, we pretty much know this. But we tend to live in a bubble. As of December 6, Sonoma County had officially experienced 13,369 coronavirus cases, and 160 deaths. Sonoma Valley had officially experienced 1,028 cases — something short of 8 percent of the county’s total, and an unreported number of deaths.
But we can estimate that, using the County Public Health Department’s countywide mortality rate of 1.2 percent, roughly 12 residents with COVID-19 have died so far in Sonoma Valley. And an estimate offered by Sonoma Overnight Support — the Valley’s only homeless shelter — suggests there may be as many as 200 homeless among us right now. Most of us don’t see these people. The bodies aren’t on display and the homeless remain largely invisible. But they are there. And we are here. There is much work to be done.
Please have a safe holiday season. Love yourself and others. And wear a mask.
—David Bolling, Editor and Publisher