So, it looks like we’re doing this. We are going to attempt to have a normal spring. Or semi-normal.
Now that we possess the knowledge, experience, foresight, face masks and, most of all, vaccines that we did not have a year ago, we are going to celebrate the spring that was denied us in 2020, a season that will be filled with baseball, picnics and, fingers crossed, perhaps even high school graduations.
That’s what we’re hoping for, anyway.
Despite winter’s frozen clutch of ice and gloom, it’s beginning to feel like maybe, hopefully, oh-please-let-it-be-so, we are turning the corner on the pandemic that has paralyzed us. Infection rates are declining and vaccinations are rising ever so slowly. Students are returning to classrooms and ball games are being played.
Still, we are wary. It’s not clear whether that is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel or the headlight of a fourth wave (or is it fifth?) of coronavirus barreling toward us. By now, many of us have become immune to false hope (but not the virus). But maybe this time, there’s a reason to be hopeful.
We poke our heads out, like the groundhog peering around anxiously worried about six more weeks of quarantine … I mean winter. Looks OK. Feels OK. We step outside, masks affixed, and drive to the supermarket to pick up the groceries we ordered on our phones, which is officially our favorite thing to do during the pandemic.
We sign up our kids for T-ball and softball, believing that, because we know how to responsibly protect ourselves and our families from the coronavirus, the spring sports seasons won’t be canceled this time. We do not dwell on whether or not we could have saved the seasons last year had we done the things we do now, because the past is past and we did not know what to do. Now, maybe we do.
The spring won’t be completely normal, even under a best-case scenario. Yes, the adult kickball leagues are holding sign-ups and the restaurants are awaiting the warm weather that attracts outdoor diners. But a spike in virus cases could be like a spring freeze that zaps the buds. We’ve been frostbitten by the virus before.
Even if there are ball games, it’s unclear if we will be able to watch our children play in them, or if we will be among the sacred dozens who earn the golden tickets. Will we gather at Salem Memorial Stadium on summer nights to watch the Salem Red Sox play against whoever these teams are in this new league that Major League Baseball has forced upon us?
In baseball, every team has hope on Opening Day. Of course, hopes are immediately dashed for half the league, but I’m trying to stay positive here.
Still, things aren’t completely back to normal. Roanoke’s St. Patrick’s Parade and Shamrock Festival have already been canceled for the second year in a row. The wonderful Highland Maple Festival in Highland County, a favorite event for my family, has again been canceled.
But as surely as the sap flows in the sugar maple trees, festival or no festival, hope rises in the spring. The sugar camps of Highland County will be open anyway, selling their syrups and candies. You can’t stop spring from coming. And, boy, are we ready for it.
We will mask up, get our shots when we can and cheer for our children — as long as we are allowed to be there and sit in our camp chairs spaced at least 6 feet apart.