Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pickleball in the Time of Covid

 “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”

― Emily Dickinson

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this:
“Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.”
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”

― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

So far, it's been 6 months. We thought it would be 2, maybe 3 weeks. "No masks, no worries" morphed into "masks, hand sanitizers, distancing". Then they were on to bending the curve with quarantining followed closely by devastating economic suspension. Rules and regulations proliferated. Common sense ebbed. Fear flourished, confusion reigned, lives were turned upside down.

Meanwhile, our own daily routines remained relatively stable. We had no jobs to be furloughed; no children home from school. Our pantry is always stocked, our toilet paper stash was flush. We could cook, or fish;  Joe could work on home repairs and I could work on the garden. And we could play pickleball. We made do with phone calls or emails or texts to family and friends. We all hated Coronavirus, and wished that it would be over soon.

Strategies for the future, at least as I remember, slowly evolved. Like the frog in a pot of water with the heat slowly turned up, we were eased into thinking the process needed another couple of weeks, then the rest of the month, or the maybe the summer, or the year. Vaccine teases were scattered throughout. "The Science" kept changing it's mind about when and where the danger lay. Meanwhile, numbers- regardless of whether they actually added up- were always rising. 

What used to be normal now seems very far away. I really missed my children and grandchildren. I wished I could see my girlfriends at cards on Friday nights, or visit friends who were mourning a loss. 

While the weeks of waiting dragged on, it dawned on me that I was beginning to wish away my whole life while wishing the Covid plague would end. But there's no dispensation for time lost; no guarantees this plague is the last; no pixie dust to make wishes come true. So I am following yet another route back to the beginning again. Pay attention! Count the blessings before you! Don't wait!

In June I went ahead and took the opportunity to visit Susan and Saultopaul a few months after Carl's death. I had not seen her or the farm in several years and I missed both. It was a two day drive  across to western Georgia, punctuated by a stop at another Susan's in SC. We all prepared carefully, and had been living mostly isolated lives anyway.


I was rewarded for my efforts with a wonderful, warm and new look at that gorgeous farm thru the eyes of it's new mistress.  We walked, talked, cooked and ate our way thru the significant and insignificant topics of the day and the world. We read. We made art. We did not wait. 
I also checked in at the garden house on the lake both out and back. That is always a comfortable visit full of beautiful scenery and captivating conversation. So nice to touch base there.

Just this month, my wonderful husband and friends threw me a surprise birthday party. It was appropriately distanced physically, but warmly close and cozy socially. It was a bit of a risk, but we could sit out on the deck on what just happened to be the first cool night of the fall season. It was loud, chatty, delicious, hilarious. There was drinking.

I have never been so surprised; never wanted to share an evening with friends more; never made a better memory to savor. My birthday wasn't going to wait, but thank goodness those lovely people did not, either. 


And then, of course, there was pickleball. Early on, Carole said pickleball would save us. We could be outside, we could get exercise, fresh air and some laughs. We could maintain at least some of our friendships, and make sure those friends stayed safe. Even during the worst of the lockdowns, Joe and I could play together and still get all but the social benefits. 

Now we are back to playing as often as possible. We made it thru the heat of the summer, and  look forward to the cool breezes of fall, and even the cold dark of winter to continue our play. We've all gotten much better at the game. We've gotten much stronger physically. We count on the exercise, the interaction, and the laughs. We appreciate every opportunity to gather and play. For us, pickleball makes the "new normal".

I have said before how lucky we are to live where beauty surrounds us. And in that spirit, I am making a point to appreciate each and every day. We're not waiting to love the sunrise, or the moonrise, or the spectacular, yet completely different sunset from yesterday's. We all feel that way, and share pictures and tales about dolphins, eagles, lightning storms, morning mists.

There is only one thing now that we will wait for. When we've safely crossed over into the new year, we will have another grandbaby. Boy or girl, it doesn't matter.
Vaccine or no vaccine, mask or no mask, distance or no distance. More than anything else I can think of, this baby represents the hope for the future we all need; the light at the end of that very dark tunnel we are in. Until then, and after....there's pickleball.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- 
the one who has flung himself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what should I have been doing?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?


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