Are you taking drives? People are taking drives. And that's OK, we're allowed to. Even in the earliest days of the stay at home order in Minnesota, the rules indicated that people would be allowed to take drives with no real purpose or destination in mind, just to get out of the house and maybe roll down the windows and get some fresh air.

    So you're cruising around Crookston and what are you looking for? Maybe people taking a walk or riding a bike that you can wave at. Maybe you're on the lookout for people who are out and about and not appearing to abide by social distancing guidelines. You know, that whole six-feet-apart thing. Maybe you drive by some local eateries and hope that you see vehicles parked there, occupied by people waiting for their curbside pick-up order.

    Maybe as you meander your way through Crookston's streets and neighborhoods, you're simply looking for a sliver of hope, something positive, something that tells you that, even though we might not be able to even see on the horizon a 100% normal "normal" - as in the way things used to be pre-pandemic - there will come a point when things will start to navigate their way toward a new normal.

    Downtown, you see those signs in the form of scissor-lifts hoisting Jeff Evers up to the highest reaches of his Fournet building, as his ambitious, exciting renovation of that historic structure continue to progress. Kitty-corner across the intersection, the image was sort of similar recently, with big pieces of lumber being hoisted into the upper floor windows of the Crookston Eagles Club, where significant renovations inside continue.

    On the north end, even the construction of the sharp-looking new First Community Credit Union is enough to inspire a bit of hope.

    Another source of hope and positivity can almost always be found in Crookston's northeast corner, where developer Bob Herkenhoff, in partnership with the City of Crookston, continues to seemingly defy the odds by forging ahead on ambitious residential development plans, and nice homes keep getting built.

    The two cul de sacs that extended Fir and Spruce lanes were last year's project, and, what do you know, there's the first house, and it looks to be a nice one, almost all framed up.

    For Crookston, it's what Spongebob Squarepants and his pal Patrick Star might call "fancy living." Herkenhoff's two ponds are the signature attraction with all of the homes he's built in that corner of town, and as part of his deal with the City, there will be trails to the ponds eventually and a sort of "natural" park that he says he'll give back to the City.

    There's another phase coming, too, that will result in a couple of new streets and more lots for more new residential homes, again, with Herkenhoff and the City working in tandem.

    If makes one wonder when, if ever, a big residential neighborhood will pop up across the highway and to the north, where the City owns a lot of land and for years has conceptualized a major residential subdivision. It looks cool on paper, but it's super-expensive to make even a first phase happen, and there's a pesky drainage problem in the area that seems to reveal itself every spring.

    Maybe in a decade we'll see something there. Maybe longer than that. A community always needs to be adding to its new housing stock, however. Maybe the north side of County Highway 11 just needs a touch of Herkenhoff’s magic, too. A community can only hope.

    Are you seeing things in Crookston that make you hopeful? Share them with us. Email any thoughts and/or photos to mchristopherson@crookstontimes.com.