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Over Easy: We’re getting out, and it’s OK

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 7/2/2021 9:48:30 PM
Modified: 7/2/2021 9:48:36 PM

Of late we Mackies have been reentering what a children’s book called “the big wide world.” We are a bit nervous about it, to be honest. Excited, too.

COVID-19 isn’t over, but a double shot of the vaccine has made us braver, or should I say less timid?

A note to everyone: It’s good to see you. We missed you.

On Father’s Day weekend my wife, Dede, and I visited our daughter and son at his place in Connecticut, a straight shot down Interstate 91. I staked a claim to being the world’s best father, even without a “No. 1 Dad” coffee mug for proof. A dad joke for dad’s day.

On Saturday we played mini golf, a zany family tradition, at a Switzerland-themed course in Canton, Conn. It takes no half measures. Little signs inform players about Swiss geography, history, culture and chocolate. Obstacles include mountain goats, alpenhorns and tennis rackets — for Swiss great Roger Federer. And I was expecting William Tell and Heidi.

After the 18th hole, the owner heartily welcomed us back to America. It was a hoot, and believe it or not the most fun I’ve had contemplating the Swiss Confederation.

The next day, we watched our son play Gaelic football, a mashup of soccer, rugby, Australian rules football and Guinness, which comes into play after the final whistle. His game followed a soccer match, with one team including players of Jamaican heritage. Many stayed and watched Gaelic football and enthusiastically asked about it. They also partied and played loud reggae music. As I watched an Irish game played with a reggae beat in the background, people of different colors and cultures at play, I thought it was a perfect moment.

But perfection passes. On the drive home we stopped in Massachusetts for a McDonald’s break. (I don’t love the food, but the bathrooms are appreciated.) Dede and I both put on our masks. After we walked past the drive-thru line, someone behind us sourly called out, “Lower them, suckers.” I suppose he saw himself as a modern-day Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty, and give me fries with that.”

But mostly, all is good. We have been to Hartford’s own boys of summer, the Nighthawks, twice already. We sit behind home plate because I am fascinated by people who can throw a little white ball more than 90 miles an hour, and then throw one slower with considerable spin. I wonder if I could hit one with a bat. But even if I could, I could not get out of the way of a spherical object hurtling at that rate of speed toward my chest, knee, elbow, shin, ankle or head. I am told by the internet I would have less than half a second to react. I couldn’t even get out a final expletive.

Last Sunday we drove to Silver Lake in Barnard, where the air was several degrees cooler and the water was fine. We forgot our foam noodles, which we employ to drift with zero effort. Floating, assisted or not, should be an Olympic sport. I have a talent for it. The announcer would say, with amazement: “Look how steady he is; there’s not even a ripple in the water.” Even an old East German judge would have to give me a 10.

The real fun was watching families chasing toddlers, bigger kids cannonballing into the water, tweens hankering to become teens (girls giggling, boys looking addled). Some adults come to the beach to nap, but for the most part life is on the go, go, go. I don’t think most phones can get a signal at the lake, which suggests something. Left to our own devices, or lack of them, we play together.

We have been going to the Wednesday night outdoor concerts next to the Hartford Town Hall. This week Gerry Grimo and the East Bay Jazz Ensemble were the second act, taking the stage after a thunderstorm rolled through with a cacophonous show: thunderous cymbals in the sky with crazy thunder drumming and flashes of lightning. The ensemble was lively, too, and I envied the swing dancers who popped up from their lawn chairs.

The pressure seems to have eased for the moment. But I hear distant calls that the variants are coming, the variants are coming. Tomorrow is Independence Day, a reminder that we Americans have been, and continue to be, in this together. We are annoyed with each other and weary of the COVID-19 battle, but on July 4 a cessation of hostility is the order of the day.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.




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