Welcome to summer in the coronavirus era.
I know, summer won’t officially start until June 20. But Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season. The first day of unofficial summer in Ohio was anything but normal.
There were no public Memorial Day festivities. There were no picnics in the park, There is no water in the Heise Park pool and the splash park facility at East Park has not opened yet. City playground equipment is not being used. There was no one in the batting cage at the softball field near my home. In fact, except for walkers, the park is depressingly quiet.
I enjoy peace and quiet But the lack of noise in the world is getting on my nerves.
I want to hear children playing. I want to watch the girls at the YMCA daycare center push that huge baby stroller around the loop. I want to drive through parks and see parking lots filled with baseball parents and players. I want to see people playing basketball or tennis. I want to see people in the pool and listen to the whistles at the stadium as coaches get their players in shape for fall athletics.
It’s just too quiet.
Some quiet is nice. This is depressing.
I know I’m not the only one imagine dealing with the angst and depression that comes with spending too much time at home.
I know the noise level will eventually rise. The parks will once again be full of kids and teams and families.
I have no idea what to expect in the first summer of the COVID-19 era.
Summer festivals all over Ohio have been postponed or cancelled. The Pickle Run Festival, Music in the Park and Galion Graders summer baseball were added last week to the not-going-to-happen-in-2020 list.
And that list will continue to grow.
The nation continues to open up, albeit at a turtle’s pace.
As of today, there is no major league — nor minor league baseball — scheduled in 2020. The Ohio State Fair is cancelled for 2020. There is no real golf on TV. I’m not convinced there will be college football in the fall.
Bars and taverns and wineries are open again in Ohio. However, there are lots of restrictions in place that make it more difficult to socialize and chat and meet new friends, which are things people go to bars and taverns and wineries to do.
I don’t know when — or if — that situation will return to normal?
There are too many unknowns, too many questions with no answers.
Restaurants have been given the OK to open back up for businesses. Most tried to weather the last three months with carryout, delivery and curb-side service. But business was not good. Local business owners will continue to struggle. Some will have to shut down.
There are local promotions and social media posts and stories urging area residents s to support their local businesses. I hope they do.
But I admit, as someone who works at home and rarely goes anywhere but grocery shopping weekly, I am hesitant to go to a lot of public places. I fear a spike in new cases. Too many don’t believe this coronavirus still presents a danger. Too many are tired of living as hermits and are hell-bent on getting outside and enjoying life again, despite the possible consequences.
I made a trip to Lake Erie a couple weeks ago. I needed to get out of the house. I never got out of the car. But I still enjoyed a delicious perch dinner at Jolly Roger’s in Port Clinton.
It was good to get out of town for a few hours. I enjoyed my drive around Marblehead. I enjoyed seeing Lake Erie.
Still, I felt trapped.
I lot of us feel trapped.
I don’t lose sleep because I am worried about getting the COVID-19 virus. But I still fear it.
This weekend I played my first game of golf. It was humid and the grass was really wet, but it was good to get out. And then I had my first meal inside a restaurant in about 100 days. Social distancing guidelines were in place and there were no grumpy customers. The young lady who waited on our group was funny and seem delighted to be back at work.
I feel for those having to police bars and restaurants to make sure customers, employers and owners are paying attention and enforcing social distancing guidelines. It’s gotten ugly in a few places across the nation. There will be more violence.
We need a break. All Americans need a break.
Summer — for many — is a built-in break.
It means no school. It means vacations in the mountains or trips to the zoo or sitting on a beach or camping or flying to Europe or visiting national parks. It’s a time to scratch items off our bucket lists.
The only scratching going on right now is people scratching their heads wondering when the world will return to normal.
Sadly, I’m not looking forward to this summer. I think it will be a lot like the past three months.
I have vacation time coming. But vacation time at this time will be a lot like working. I’ll stay at home. What’s the point?. COVID-19 is hard on all of us. That, includes small newspapers who never seem to be fully-staffed, even when times are ‘good.’ Vacations and holidays are more of a pain than they are worth. They only mean fewer hours and days to do the things that still must be done.
I don’t know that I’ll feel confident enough to make a trip to Put-in-Bay this summer. I doubt that I’ll feel safe enough to do a little partying as I listen to the music and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Lake Erie summer. I don’t know that I’ll feel like going to a baseball game this summer, that is if the Cleveland Indians actually play in 2020.
I’m anything but a control freak. But I do have control of how I react to COVID-19.
Sadly, right now, I don’t feel safe in large groups.
When I put my safety in the hands of everyone else … well, that frightens me. I turned 60 last year. I have some health concerns. I am not the most social person you’ll ever meet, and I’m content at home with my four-legged family.
Still, occasionally, I go out by myself. I like to sit at a bar and enjoy a drink or two while I watch the world go by.
I’m not ready to do that yet.
But I hope I am soon. And I hope the world allows me to have that pleasure sometime soon.
If so, I’ll see ya then.
Email Russ Kent at aimmediamidwest.com