“There comes a time when a man must wear a mask.”

Those words from one of my favorite movies “The Lone Ranger” reflect what is happening all around us right now.

I remember when I started seeing people wearing masks in stores more than a month ago, and my instant reaction was to keep my distance.

After all, it is the sick people who don the mask.

Then as time went on I started seeing more and more people wearing them. Had it become their security blanket? Were they sick? Were they worried about getting sick? Are they working in an environment where masks are required?

It could have been any one of these, or maybe even something else, but what I know now is I am not looking at people wearing masks the same way I would have even a few weeks ago.

Now, I have decided when I go out in public it might be a good idea for me to wear one, too.

So, this past Monday (April 20) I gave it a try.

The Krause clan was given a few masks by one of Redwood County’s most superlative and prolific seamstresses – my mother-in-law. Thanks, by the way.

Yes, we are sharing them as a family. After all the family that wears masks together remains healthy together, right? (I’m not so sure about that, either.)

Anyway I pulled the mask over my face, and instantly knew this was not for me. I hated it. It was constricting. My glasses would fog up when I breathed and it just felt hot. I had not donned the mask more than a few seconds when I was already pulling it off.

This was not the first time I had ever donned a mask in my life. Over the years I have developed an allergy to dust – something handed down to me by my mom – and so when doing any deep cleaning in the barn or other places where the dust kicks up my breathing becomes labored.

If I am in that environment long enough without a mask I will pay for it for days.

So, I tried the mask thing, and it only lasted for a few minutes, at that time, too.

What I have gained from this is a greater level of respect for doctors, nurses, re-searchers, emergency personnel and others who are regularly required to wear them for much longer than a couple of minutes.

I have seen the photos of people who have wear marks on their faces from having those masks on so much. That is commitment.

I have decided that the whole mask thing is why I never would have been a good doctor. (That and the fact that I get squeamish at blood drives and was never very good at science.)

I think one of the tests they should give to prospective medical professionals before they get too far into their studies is a mask wearing challenge. I am certain a few of them would not stick around after having that mask on their face for an extended period of time. 

A few years back when another disease concern was in the forefront, I attended a public health meeting, and at that meeting those attending were given a mask. I still have that mask, but it has only been worn once. During that meeting, I and others were taught the proper way to wear a mask.

The masks we have now are cloth.

Those were more like the ones you see medical professionals wearing all of the time. They even had the metal piece on the top that could be shaped around your nose to create a better seal.

Then I heard disheartening news.

There is a certain portion of the public that will not be able to successfully wear a mask and have it make any kind of difference.

What is that group, you may ask?

It is those who have beards.

Yes, the facial hair wearing men (and those few women) are out of luck when it comes to being safe wearing a mask.

If I were an entrepreneur I would sit down and come up with a solution for that. Then again, maybe someone already has. (No, it’s not a razor.)

Despite that reality, I will still wear the mask I have been given when I feel the need – not for me but for those others who are vulnerable or are working on the front lines fighting this pandemic.

In the movies, super heroes wear masks in order to hide their identity from others. In real life, true heroes wear masks, because they are the ones running toward the danger, while people like me whine about the discomfort I feel. Thanks to all of you who wear the mask as a way to serve, protect and save.

I received word several days ago that a local newspaper mainstay in Redwood County had passed away.

I am not sure I can remember the first time I met Joe Dietl, but I know there were certain events when I could count on seeing Joe and having the chance to just spend a few minutes talking to him about what was happening in the area.

Traditionally, I would see him at the county fair, and I always looked forward to just having those moments with Joe.

To say he was proud of his community would be an understatement. Joe was always talking about what was going on in his neck of the woods.

Joe served his community very well for decades, and was a great example for me of what sharing the news meant.

Thanks, Joe, for letting me pick your brain and for the lifelong commitment you made to this area.