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Coronalone: Weeks 19 & 20 – The Summer That Wasn’t

"Coronalone". It's like "Home Alone", but without Macaulay Culkin. And without the burglars (we hope). It's our ridiculous name for the surreal and strange circumstances in which we currently find ourselves.

And we currently find ourselves enjoying a cool breeze through our windows at night, but also knowing that its arrival heralds the inevitable end of summer in just a few short weeks.

How can it be that it is already mid-August? Wasn’t it just March, and we were barely beginning to learn what Covid-19 would mean for our country and trying to decide what actions were the most reasonable, both as a collective and for each of us personally? Wasn’t it just May, and the nights were finally beginning to get a little warmer? How can an entire spring and summer have passed so quickly, and yet also felt like forever?

For me, I think the summer of 2020 will always be “the summer that wasn’t”. It’s not that the heat didn’t come—Lord knows, it did—or that the flowers didn’t bloom. It’s not even that the summer visitors stayed away, because despite Covid that was not the case, either. And it’s not that we didn’t spend time on our beach enjoying what in New England is always too short a season. It’s just that it all came at a time when our need to self-isolate to protect “the moms” meant that it also came without any of the activities that normally would arrive along with the heat and the flowers and the tourists. It meant no trips to the coast of Maine or evenings on the Cygans’ patio. It meant no stops for vegan ice cream at Jordan’s. It meant no walking the boardwalk at the Weirs or skee ball and air hockey at Funspot with my brother and his family. It meant no friends or family coming to enjoy the lake here at the cottage. It meant it didn’t feel like a typical summer in the Lakes Region, which made it different than every other summer I’ve ever spent here.

I wonder whether school children will feel like it was “the summer that wasn’t”. They had already been sent home well before the end of the school year to struggle with remote learning, so there was no mad rush out the doors on the last day of school into the heat of summer and off to play with friends. It was probably more of a quiet transition from school work on the home computer to, well, maybe video games online with friends… on the home computer. I don’t know, since we don’t have kids, but I would imagine that it might have felt a bit like getting gypped out of something, missing out on the excitement of the school year ending and a summer of possibilities unfolding before them. I’ll have to ask some of my friends with kids what their families’ experiences were, in this strange new world. No doubt it was not what any of them expected when we first rang in the new year back in January. And I have no doubt that not a single one of us will live through “the time of Covid” without finding ourselves transformed. It is not possible for us to be the same people we were before this crisis, because the world in which we live will never be the same, either.

So for now, Mike and I will enjoy the new scents that are carried on the breeze as the winds begin their autumnal change, and we will rake the grounds and clean the windows and repaint the benches at the beach, but not in preparation of our annual party as we would any other year. We will quietly step back and appreciate how lovely it all looks, but we won’t be setting up tables and hanging decorations and preparing a campfire. It will feel very odd, indeed, but it will be worth it, to keep “the moms”— and ourselves— from harm. And we will emerge from our cocoons at some point when all of this has passed and be grateful for our time as caterpillars and for the relative stillness during our solitude, but also very ready to fly.

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