People Out Loud: Balancing act – Oktoberfest, school, life and COVID

September 2021 Posted in Community, Your Health

It is so difficult being a writer, even one throwing out unsolicited opinions just once a month. There is a natural flow of subjects that occur annually, starting with New Year’s resolutions and ending with taking the tree down as Santa heads to the tropics for a well-earned rest.

There is Valentine’s Day, Easter, Tax Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and on and on. They are always good for a column or two. But now, it’s different. Things have changed, become a bit disorienting, and always seems to have a caveat or asterisk.

I was craving scones, marionberry shakes, and corn dogs as the Oregon State Fair opened a few weeks ago. Then I read that most fair goers wore masks to buy a ticket, and the face coverings never came out again once they passed the entrance gate. Kind of put a damper on things. Will it become a COVID super spreader event? Coughing on my corn dog? No problem!

Labor Day. Ahhh. A weekend at the beach. Cooler weather. Clam Chowder. Saltwater Taffy. Food prices through the roof. Packed crowds everywhere. Few masks. A Devil May Care attitude was the demeanor of the day. I get that. We are champing at the bit for normalcy. Desperate for routine. But there is that Delta variant, wreaking havoc wherever it lands.

School starting. Excited kids. Facebook flooded with adorable littles and bigs with new backpacks, “First Day” pictures, and the hint of fall and footballs in the air. My heart hurts for the kids, and what they have been through in the last 19 months. They missed so much, picked up a little online, but longed for the routine and excitement school brings – games, assemblies, dances, clubs, new friends, old friends, and all the things that make these formative years fun, painful, chaotic, hilarious, and maddening. Then finally, back to five days a week, in class, in person, YES! Back to normal. Oops.
*Wear your mask. Keep six feet apart. Wash your hands.” Your parents hate masks. Your parents love masks. Your parents want you in school. Your parents want you online. Your teacher isn’t vaccinated. Your principal and classroom assistant are. The bus driver has a mask. The office manager doesn’t. No easy answers. Definitely an asterisk to this fall ritual with an ugly political overlay.

My fear: we go back to online because 40% of Oregonians are not vaccinated, many say they never will be, those who are vaccinated can still get it and spread it, and over 80% of those hospitalized, in intensive care, and dying of COVID, are unvaccinated. And we talk about a booster shot when the poor countries have yet to been offered a first. No easy answers.

Next up? Oktoberfest. My favorite (in moderation) – Spaten Optimator, nectar of the beer Gods. Butte Creek School apple cake with that magnificent butter sauce. Corn on the cob so fresh you want to slap it. Sausage in tonnage, Berliners by the basket, and cabbage rolls to practically inhale. Chicken Dances, Lederhosen and Dirndls, and everyone is German and into the polka for four days. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer and wine.

Asterisk? You got it. 350,000 people piling into an adorable little Bavarian village for four days. Masks falling by the wayside. Social distancing measured in inches, not six feet. Fun, music, dancing, imbibing, and eating. Pent up demand for fun and frolicking. Cancel it for a second year? Nope. Although that may make sense, because the odds of it becoming a COVID Catastrophe are pretty good. Open it up full bore and let the COVID Cards fall where they may? Many say yes. Many say no. Organizers say “Wear your mask.” “Prost. Zum Wohl!” “Cheers! To Your Health!”

Yes, to your health. We all want that.
No asterisk. Just best wishes for a beautiful fall and a yearning to wave goodbye to  COVID Chaos.

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