Venturing out after COVID-19 hibernation

Published 7:20 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I don’t know what y’all did this weekend, but with the governor telling us that we can leave our houses, I decided to get out of hibernation, leave my cave, and take a look around.

What I noticed was interesting.

I took several drives.  It was hard not to notice that the recently-deserted roads were again busy.  Highway 29 up and down the Valley was especially active.  For a while only delivery trucks were on the interstate, but now cars and vans and families were out chasing pavement, too. They all seemed happy.

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Some of what I saw was a little disturbing.  I drove by a couple of houses that had cars parked in the yard, more in the driveway, and even more spilling out onto the street.  Large groups of people—some of them wearing masks—were gathered around either grandmotherly types (it was Mother’s Day) or big grills piled with hamburgers and hot dogs.  They all seemed to be enjoying themselves, but social distancing appeared to have been as much at hand as copies of Shakespeare.   We’ll see how that turns out.

When I got out of bed the other day I almost fell over my own hair. It had been two months since I had a haircut.  So I snuck over to Georgia—haircuts are legal there—where I put on a mask and gloves and was instructed to wait outside until the nice tattooed lady who was going to cut my hair was free.  I did as I was told. I think she was used to that.

Emboldened by my newly-shorn noggin’, I decided to take another step.  I went to the car wash.  My Jeep—formerly black, now the color of dust and dirt—had about three inches of tracked-in debris that had to be vacuumed out.  The loud sound of whirring motors never sounded better.

I drove by a Target—don’t worry, I didn’t go in—and the parking lot was so full that for a moment I thought it was Christmas Eve and all of the men in two counties had forgotten to buy gifts.  Everyone I saw was wearing a mask.

I ran into Dr. Mitchel Galishoff at Kroger. Mitch and I have been friends for a while and I’m always glad to see him.  Not only is he one of the smartest people I know, he’s also a gentle soul.  But I promise that when I turned the corner in the produce section and he spoke to me from behind a mask and gloves, I almost dropped my blueberries.

It was not a pretty sight.

Sunday afternoon at Callaway gardens was the busiest I’ve seen it since Fantasy in Lights.  Golfers were golfing, walkers were walking, picnickers were picnicking—you get the picture. 

I even dropped by the local Dairy Queen and got an ice cream cone.  I didn’t know they could taste that good.

There are lots of pessimists out there saying that the virus is lurking in the shadows, just waiting to sneak back for a second round. And it might.  But this weekend showed me just how glad people were to see the sunshine, smell the fresh air, and just do something.

Remember when the national news was up in arms when the Georgia governor began to open things back up?    It surprised me, too, but let’s do something the national press won’t do:  let’s wait and see.

Someone had to try something. Otherwise, we’d all be cowering in our houses, masked and glove-clad, until Christmas next year, waiting on another government stimulus check.

I began this column on a personal note, and I want to end on one.  Thank you for the calls and the emails and the contacts and the comments I’ve received about our little weekly discussions.  You are all just the nicest people in the world, and I’m blessed beyond measure to get this opportunity to talk with you. And your comments mean more to me than you know.

But one favor, please. If you see me in Kroger and I have blueberries in my hands and you are wearing a mask, give me some fair warning before you wave me down.

I’ve cleaned up enough spilled blueberries for a while.