Remember all the teddy bears sat in the windows of houses during the first lockdown?
I have to admit I thought they looked a bit forlorn, peering sadly out from behind the glass. Eighteen months on and we're all feeling a bit threadbare and glum ourselves.
However, something seems to be happening in a strangely organic way to cheer us up, and there is a new playfulness to the lengths people are going to to keep their neighbours amused and connected.
From messages written in flower petals on the footpath to treasure hunts with painted rocks, silliness abounds, and it's never been needed more.
On the locked down streets of Cowra in NSW's Central West, a couple of dinasours have appeared lately, chatting to people, chasing children and generally having a grand old time.
A mysterious crafter in the southern suburbs of Sydney has been deposting delicate crocheted love hearts in people's letterboxes, with the simple message, "I hope you are doing ok".
Did I mention going stir-crazy? In Maitland in the Hunter Valley, a little girl made some dolls out of spoons for her front yard, and soon neighbours mysteriously began adding their own creative efforts.
Children in almost every town and city, including in the Southern Highlands of NSW, have taken to the pavement to write caring message in chalk.
And in the pages of Australian Community Media's many local newspapers, there are stories about acts of kindness so small they would normally not be deemed newsworthy - but right now, they are a much needed reminder of our basic humanity.
At Nowra's South Coast Register, an 80-year-old woman contacted reporter Robert Crawford, telling him how a younger woman accidentally brushed against her in the supermarket, causing a small injury. The older lady was very touched by the care and concern she was shown.
She arrived at the checkout to learn the young woman had left $20 for her to go towards her shopping. Yep, it's only $20, but it was a small gesture that meant the world.
Finally, our Sydney suburban papers brought us a lovely story about a dance school who invited dads to attend a virtual class with their children in honour of Father's Day.
I'm guessing there would have been a few dads there who executed thieir first demi-plie in 2021, but hey, aren't we all learning different ways to navigate the world these days?
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