It was an afternoon mid-summer garden party in July. I arrived characteristically late. The acreage was wooded with a nice pasture nestled in a peaceful clearing surrounded by trees. A couple of chesty roosters and self-appointed drake defenders of the universe valiantly sounded the alarm at my arrival before giving up and accepting my presence. There was not another person in sight.
An old-time radio played jazz crooners of the past. I saw empty chairs, casually draped with a sweater or two, around a long table adorned with simple flowers over summer linen. A glass pitcher held the melting remains of iced tea, there were wineglasses with a sip or two and the crumbs of appetizers left behind.
I called out a few times but realized the party had gone for a walkabout. With winding trails under the shade of giant gnarly maples covered in moss at every turn, it is a lovely place to be on a quiet summer day.
I slid back into an Adirondack chair and, warmed by the sun through the trees overhead, I closed my eyes and my mind wandered back to the joyful, carefree days of gathering in that place that I love. The party soon returned and with it came engaging conversation and laughter. The evening turned magical naturally.
I walked away that night and knew I wanted more. I need more. It had been so long, I had almost forgotten why it’s important to be with people, and meet new ones too.
Summer is here. But Covid never left.
I know, I know. Just hear me out.
Recently I attended a big indoor social gathering of a couple hundred people for the first time in almost three years.
It was like a reunion, or a New Year’s Eve party, or like maybe one of those celebrations at the end of World War II must have been.
Almost no one was wearing a mask, including me. People were shaking hands, hugging, eating off each other’s plates, even sharing glasses of wine.
A friend who was wearing a mask asked me what I thought I was doing.
“I don’t know,” I said.
But I did know. I just wanted to feel normal. Or at least pretend. It felt so good I couldn’t stop.
We’ve talked about this. COVID-19 is not “a bad cold,” as a disgruntled KP News reader once told me. We’ve talked about vaccines (no, they’re not poison, they work), we’ve talked about post-exposure immunity (that works too, for a while), and we’ve talked about variants from alpha to omicron that have evolved to get past what works.
I know people who’ve had it and felt nothing; I know people who’ve had it and were wiped out; I know people who’ve had it and haven’t fully recovered; I knew two people who died before their time because of it.
And it’s still here.
More than 400 Americans are still dying every day from COVID-19. That’s down from a height of 4,000 a day, but those are still preventable deaths indicating how widespread this thing remains.
The confirmed numbers are staggering but the cases are milder in part because so many people have been vaccinated and the current subvariant is not as devastating. Still, the latest rise of this variant, BA.5, has put Pierce County back into the medium risk category. Reported cases increased 26% in the last week of July.
Which means maybe it’s here to stay. Which means maybe masks and distancing are here to stay. Which means maybe let’s respect each other’s personal decisions and enjoy our summer together, while we’ve got it.
August 2: Don’t miss your next chance to defend the Constitution and our democratic republic — by voting in the primary election. Ballots must be postmarked by this date; our excellent, safe and secure ballot drop boxes are open until 8 p.m.
August 3: The Seventh Annual Key Center Art Walk returns. Local artists show off their wares and community members mingle, snack and imbibe. Organized by Two Waters Arts Alliance. Starts at 4 p.m.
August 12: Low-tide beach walk at Penrose State Park, sponsored by Harbor WildWatch. Learn what lurks beneath the waves in our intertidal zone, starting at 11:30 a.m.
August 13 and 14: The Key Peninsula Civic Center will host a community clothing giveaway starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.
August 19: The 33rd Key Peninsula Logging Show returns — not to the Key Peninsula, but close enough. Just over the county line at Port Orchard airport on Sidney Road SW. Logging stuff, food trucks, competitions and games. Starts at 10 a.m. (Pro tip: Bring ear protection.)
August 27 and 28: The Longbranch Improvement Club belatedly celebrates its centennial (thanks for nothing, pandemic) with weekend good foods, silly but highly competitive games, and a dance at the clubhouse.
This is just a sample of what the KP has got going this month, but you can find the rest on our community calendar on page 25 of this edition. Our calendar once took up two full facing pages until April 2020, when it shrank to a quarter of that size before disappearing altogether in May, because there was nothing for us to print.
Now we’re slowly coming back, all of us, masked or not, vaxed or not, in agreement or not.
But we’re all survivors.
Let’s agree on that, and have some fun.
UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS