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Published April 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Non-flood concerns are a nice diversion

So who do you have left in your NCAA bracket? How about the economy? Are you opening the lake cabin soon?

By: Mike McFeely, INFORUM

So who do you have left in your NCAA bracket? How about the economy? Are you opening the lake cabin soon?

Whew. That felt good.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

It’s OK. Go ahead and try it. Take a deep breath and take a step back. Talk about anything your little heart desires.

We deserve it.

After a week and a half of scrambling, worrying, watching, waiting and working our Red River-fighting tails off, it’s time to take a few moments and catch up on the rest of the world.

This comes with a major caveat: There are those still fighting the flood, and there are dozens who’ve already lost the battle. That cannot and will not be forgotten. They deserve our sympathy and our help, whatever we can provide.

But as Fargo-Moorhead took its first baby steps toward normal existence Wednesday – traffic in both downtowns, announcements about the resumption of garbage pickup, the cancellation of afternoon flood briefings, the NP Avenue bridge opened – it allowed a respite from the onslaught of river level and FEMA questions.

It was April Fool’s Day, for crying out loud. Anybody pull a good gag?

Not that a return to the real world was any bargain. Not much has changed, unfortunately. Gloom-and-doom headlines are still abundant. The recession has not yet bottomed out, the feds are seizing Bernie Madoff’s yachts, Ford sales plummeted 41 percent in March, an NFL player will be charged with DUI manslaughter.

The higher the water gets, the more things stay the same.

Still, if you dare, it’s all right to talk about other things.

Maybe you’re wondering when the golf courses (those not submerged) are going to open. That’s fine. Maybe you’re wondering when those that are under water are going to recover. That’s fine, too.

Maybe you’re thinking about your kid’s math grades. Maybe you’re looking toward spring planting. Maybe you want to buy a new set of patio furniture.

Good, good and good. As all-consuming as the past dozen days have been, the truth is we’re far from the finish line in the flood of 2009. There is still another crest on its way. Sandbag cleanup won’t start in earnest for perhaps another month. Those hurt by floodwaters or sewage have just begun to assess the damage. There are a million things to do before we even begin looking at the loose ends.

That’s why it’s a perfect time to, in the words of Fargo Vice Mayor Tim Mahoney, restore and recharge.

Restore your sanity and recharge your batteries, for at least a few moments. And you don’t even need to feel guilty about it. Believe it or not, it’s spring. We’re supposed to be walking a little straighter, soaking up the sun just a bit.

By the way, here are some more words of the day, to steal a motivational tool Mahoney has used during the flood fight: Connecticut, North Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State.

Those are the teams in the Final Four, if you were wondering. How are your brackets looking?

Inforum searchword: Mike McFeely

Forum columnist Mike McFeely can be heard from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5580.

His blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/mcfeely.