A couple weekends ago, I was out and about when I ran into an old source.

My daughter Hailey and I, as I drove around talking about gas prices, made a stop at Roasted Bliss, the new bakery in St. Charles. Coming out of the store (doughnuts in hand), I spotted Joya Stetson, who works for Community and Economic Development Associates doing economic development for the city of Stewartville.

Great minds thinking alike, Joya was on her way into the bakery but stopped — 6 feet away — to chat.

Oh, by the way

While exchanging pleasantries, Joya mentioned that as the pandemic has developed, the job of CEDA has changed somewhat, adding the imperative to help businesses stay afloat to the company’s usual goal of economic development.

It was a quick exchange, but (and this is important), it wouldn’t have happened without us meeting face to face.

Sometimes some of the best reporting comes from those side moments after the board meeting or after the big conversation when a source might say, "Oh, by the way …"

Kudos keep coming

The editor in the big office at the Post Bulletin has started a little message chain for us hardworking reporters, photographers and other PB staff. Each day, it seems like there’s another note from someone complimenting one or more of us for a job well done.

I’m not saying this to get more pats on the back. Instead, I think it’s important for us to know we’re doing a good job, and I’m glad the boss is sharing the good news.

It’s important because we’re not out and about among the people, where we normally get those pats on the back.

Milking this theme

One of the best examples I have of the importance of being out among the public is a story from a few years ago.

At a small dairy farm near St. Charles, I was talking to the farmer after working on a story about kids learning to judge dairy cows for FFA, when the farmer said, "So, did you hear about this Grassland thing?"

I had not. Turns out, Canada was making it tough to sell some parts of whole milk, and a milk processor in Wisconsin was terminating some milk contracts.

That led to a tour of a dairy near Plainview and a long talk with then-Rep. Tim Walz.

Look, I understand we need to keep our distances, deal with the quarantine the best we can, and flatten the curve. But that doesn’t change two things: First, quality journalism is hard even in the best of circumstances, yet we’re doing our best, which is pretty awesome. And second, I really want this to end so we can get back to normal.