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November 23
1931 - Fall Roundup held at Hoot Gibson's Saugus Rodeo [story]
rodeo


COVID-19 is a crisis like we have never seen in our lifetime. Prior to COVID-19 invading our shores, our daily lives were consumed with work, friends, eating great meals, and lots of fun. Post COVID-19, we’ve been reduced to survival mode.

Truly, we’ve been thrown back to the hunting and gathering era. We’ve been hunting for toilet paper, gathering what meager vegetables and meats that may still be on grocers’ shelves, or opening a can of this and that and trying to figure out what to do with it. Our very sense of security has been shaken to the core. Everything we touch, everything we see, even our friends have become nothing but vectors in our eyes. We can’t stop washing our hands.

If we’re smart, we have contained ourselves in our homes as much as possible. But the need for groceries, gas or toilet paper has sent us out into the potentially dangerous town, where there are COVID-19 vectors everywhere. The people, shopping cart handles, the very items we need could be loaded with viral contaminants.

Sure, we could have everything delivered to our front doors, but then you have to wonder who might have coughed or sneezed on our grocery items before they were packed up and delivered to us – the virus waiting on our steps, just waiting to be invited in. Paranoia is everywhere.

Well, buckle up. It just might get worse.

Currently we are seeing a slight downturn in infections and deaths. That’s great news. But in the second breath, we hear talk about May being the magical month where perhaps we can all return to work and breathe a sigh of relief.

But, perhaps the danger will still be lurking in a back alley corner, and the infections and deaths will begin to rise again. What will happen to our towns? What will become of our restaurants, our theatres, our economy, our lifestyles and our friendships? What will the future bring, and how much will change?

Mere survival might become our new comfort zone – one day at a time. How we’d love to return to those days of innocence, of complacency, before we heard the name “COVID-19.”

* * *

While experts speak about the seriousness of the virus – the rise and fall of the statistics – most people listen and react by slinking behind closed doors. Others insist it’s all a hoax. They don’t believe the stats and refuse to curtail their activities, insisting they will not fall victim to the so-called scourge. Some even wish they would get it so they would be immune and not have to stop doing anything they want to do.

These people will be the ones who will continue the cycle. Maybe they will live, maybe they will die, but they will continue to pass it on to the rest of us. Typhoid Mary will walk among us.

* * *

Plagues inspire change. How will we change? Will we no longer shake hands? Will we no longer hug our friends? Will we no longer have business meetings or social gatherings? Will all business occur online?

Imagine a family reunion conducted on Zoom. Doctors’ appointments can already be accomplished in some cases with a phone call or a virtual online visit. Groceries and meals can be delivered. Movies can be streamed right into your home. Schools have the capability of teaching online.

All of these conveniences can hopefully keep us healthy during the pandemic, but will we continue to live this way, or will we go back to our social norms?

Even workout videos from the ‘70s have shown us we can dance in our own living rooms. When will we feel like cave men, hiding out in our own caves, away from others who might want to steal our mammoth leg for their dinner?

It is pleasing to see how quickly we are moving toward a vaccine for COVID-19. This may be the answer to bringing our society together again, to bringing us out of our caves and into the sunshine without fear. An initial trial is underway, and other potential vaccines are being developed. Testing has become simpler, quicker and more effective. Antibody tests have just arrived to detect those who have the antibodies from COVID-19. These people will be the first to climb out of their caves because they will have immunity.

No one yet knows how long this immunity will last, but it is expected they will have two worry-free years before they would need to be vaccinated. Another estimate put out there was a mere two weeks. These are the people who will be able to get jobs immediately and start the economy moving again, while others might prefer to be locked up in their caves forever.

If and when this pandemic passes, most likely the parks will benefit from great numbers of patrons visiting the great outdoors. Be it for a hike, a picnic, camping, backpacking, fishing or just the excitement of breathing in fresh, clean mountain air, people are likely to flock to their favorite outdoor place.

It will be a sort of freedom we’re all longing for now. Imagine being able to hold hands, walking down a trail and smiling without wearing a mask made in China. Let’s hope this opportunity is in all of our futures.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

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