My cousin had spent all day on a trail ride that filled her and her horse with cockleburs and other sticky weed seeds. She spent the rest of the evening carefully and gently removing them from herself and her horse. 

The following days her eyes itched terribly and were getting increasingly red and irritated. A doctor lifted her eyelid and found it was full of little prickles and bur pieces. Every time she blinked her eyes were scratched, again and again. 

That was years ago, but I think it’s probably about the best analogy for how this past year has gone: 2021 went by in a blink of an eye with cockleburs in the eyelids. Fast and painful. 

The trail behind us, and yet more ahead, is hazardous. Despite our best efforts to take care ourselves and of each other, we’ve still ended up with wounds. Some worse than others.  

At times I feel guilty, wishing and waiting for more time to pass — for this all to be over. 

I want 2021 gone just as bad as I wanted 2020 gone. Now we stand on the doorstep of 2022 in much the same situation as the past two years. 

For as much as I wish for time to pass, for those brighter days to get here already, I’ve had to remind myself to be grateful for the wonderful things that did happen in these last years. 

My daughter started Kindergarten and is finding joy in learning to read. I reconnected with old friends, even forged new friendships, though it took the desperation and loneliness of a pandemic to push me to make more, deliberate connections.

I found new hobbies like birding and fern collecting. I also discovered new kinds of strength and resiliency within myself that I never knew existed before. 

There are more cockleburs on the trail ahead, but it doesn’t mean we stop moving forward. Keep pulling them from your hair and clothes, though more will take their place. 

Take this year one day at a time. For lack of roses, stop and smell the thistle blossoms if you need to. There is still beauty here, and brighter days ahead if we are willing to work toward them. 

Kirsten Faurie is  group editor for Northstar Media, which includes the Moose Lake Star Gazette. She may be reached at


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