People seemed to enjoy my blog “Damn the Cicadas, Half Speed Ahead,” and why not? It was probably the most upbeat blog I’ve written lately. It was June. Along with the blossoms, optimism was bursting out all over our little corner of the world. A newspaper published a revised version of the blog under their own chosen title that more directly expressed elation at our newfound freedom and seemed to imply the pandemic is over. For the record, I didn’t actually say that. It ain’t. Not by a long shot.
Being composed of a lot of very smart people, our community had a high vaccination rate. We were getting together indoors with vaccinated friends and family without fear, going to events outdoors without masks, and as the blog said, best of all as far as we were concerned, it was safe to go back in the water. We did. With a vengeance.
As the summer outdoor swimming facilities are about to close, we can say we got our money’s worth. Over the course of 90 plus days on which we potentially could have swum we missed fewer than 10. Those were mostly due to severe weather closing the facilities.
Sometimes it felt like a chore to slather ourselves in sunscreen and drag our tired bodies to the pool, but to waste those precious days would have been as much a travesty as not licking every drop of whipped cream from the bowl.
The result was amazing. After a year and a half out of the pool, this ancient mariner was surprised to find that it took less than three months to regain pre-pandemic endurance and speed. Watch out, Katie Ledecky. You’ve slipped from being three times as fast as I am to only twice as fast.
But the benefits of all that hard work may soon be undone. With the delta variant rampant and our immunities waning, we are back at having to take a long hard look at what we dare to do. Should we join an indoor swimming facility? Maybe. If we’re very careful.
Even the smart people around us seem not to have lost summer’s pollyanna attitude. This only makes us feel more cautious. Should we get together with friends indoors while they continue to hang out indoors, unmasked with unvaccinated grandkids who are now back to in-person school? Should we even be indoors with our vaccinated kids and grandkid who are out and about at jobs and school and in regular contact with our school age, unvaccinated great-granddaughter? The sad thing is that if everyone had done the smart thing and gotten the shot, we wouldn’t have had to ask these questions.
Chalk one up for the toxic political environment that has driven the anti-vaxxers to insanity. Folks who claim to be pro-life think nothing of risking their own lives or of spreading delta far and wide. They are living petri dishes cultivating ever more deadly strains. Folks who claim to cherish “freedom” think nothing of interfering with the freedom of us rational people to live a normal life.
It was wonderful to be able to once again get “into the swim.” Now it looks as though that was just a tease. From what I see we’ll soon be back to “everybody out of the pool.” And who knows for how long?