My daughter has always loved a summer thunderstorm, and so do I! And so does my husband. And, honestly, so does our cat--she runs to the window to watch when she hears thunder. But we all respect the power of nature too.
A few years ago, we attended a beach birthday party at this very time of year, on a lovely summer day, and an unexpected storm came upon us so quickly that there wasn't even time to run to our cars in the parking lot. Above, my daughter is "flying" into the wind that has come rushing through the pavilion, which was momentarily followed by a drenching, sideways rain and a dramatic show of thunder and lightning over the water and all around us. As quickly as it had hit us, the storm passed without doing us any more harm than knocking everything over and soaking us all to the skin. My daughter declared it "the best" birthday party ever.
As magical as that was, we didn't take away the wrong lesson from that exciting and fortunate experience--that we should quit looking at weather forecasts because sometimes they're wrong, or worse yet, that we should go looking for trouble, because we'll probably be fine and it's fun to survive real danger and it won't do to "live in fear" of lightning strikes.
A pandemic is a lot like a stormy season, except less pretty and fun. There's nothing we can do to stop it on an individual level (though we can mitigate spread in our own families and communities by working together to get all our folks vaccinated and masked). We can't predict what will happen next with 100% accuracy. But we can stack the odds in our favor. We can watch the science as new data and analyses become available, and, instead of choosing between an idiotic binary of either having a useless meltdown or adopting massive delusions, we can wisely plan ahead to make the best of calm times and prepare for the next surge by using everything we've had plenty of time to learn about hunkering down.
Over the past couple of weeks, my family has spent some bittersweet and meaningful time with old friends who have taken this summer's low pandemic spread as an opportunity to travel, and if the signs continue to appear favorable enough, we may visit with more friends over the next couple of weeks. Michigan has turned out to be a prime summer 2021 destination for many, lagging behind other states on the Delta wave and nestled snug between the Western hellfires and the worst of the derecho storms to the East. We're in the eye of a global storm on many fronts right now, and this lull is about to end--but it hasn't quite yet. My family is staying flexible--not too frightened and not too foolish--so that we can respond appropriately to conditions as they arise.
For us, that has meant putting our home renovations on hold to seize precious summer afternoons with our most beloved old friends, people my husband and I knew and loved before we became parents, or even when we were all kids ourselves, people who still make us laugh and smile so hard we can't see.
My high school friend Toby, who is now a nurse in North Carolina, spent a few days with us last week and found this photo of me when she got home, from when we were about 20 and loved hanging out in rowdy, crowded public places.
My husband and I have put our home renovations on hold for a bit as we pack in all the visits and hugs we can with old friends traveling through Michigan, which seems to be hovering right in the eye of multiple storms--lagging behind most other states on the Delta wave and snug between the fires to the West and the worst derecho storms to the East.
It's people and memories such as these that will keep us warm through the next pandemic wave, which is starting... oh, right about now. Right before school starts for our unvaccinated children.
Everything and everyone is not going to be okay. This next round is going to hurt. But we can and must do our best, so we can win the long game, not just for ourselves but for our children, who are more vulnerable than ever right now.
So I'm checking the stats every day, keeping up with the latest data and recommendations as they grow and evolve, and staying flexible enough to respond quickly to both opportunities to do more, in relative safety, and also warning signs to stop and batten the hatches again.
For parents and caregivers, there is no excuse to give up now. The stakes are even higher, and we are now armed with more knowledge, scientific literacy, medical tools, and mitigation strategies (get those masks back out) than we had available to us through the last three surges. We can't have total control over what happens, but we can all do our best--and if we all do our best, we'll save a lot of lives and preserve a lot of quality of life for ourselves and our younger generations.
From time to time, I'll revisit my own old blog posts from the Before Times and from last year, to remember how it was, what I've learned since then, and what I can do differently this time with the new information, wisdom, and resources that have been given to me. I hope you will too. We can do this! Some highlights from the Magic Nutshell's glory days are listed below the comments.