There are more than a few parallels between spring in New England and our relationship to the pandemic. It feels like it should be a straight line, getting gradually warmer, as we ease steadily out of the complete pandemic mode into something less crushing, demanding and unpredictable.
This is so even though every year in January or February we may have a few days that are 60 degrees, and up to 70 in March. When it hits 75 in April we think, Yes! It’s coming. The end of sweater weather, and into sweatier weather with sandals.
The greening of the trees always happens slower than I’d like, although it is delicious- the gradual pale green spattered among the trees, blending with some of the light pink and white blossoms brave enough to show their faces. The bold daffodils trumpet their arrival, following the short crocuses peering out and finally ending in an explosion of green.
However, last week, toward the end of my day on Telehealth my right ear was sore from hours of wearing my blue screen glasses. It was still tender at dinner and as I asked my husband to check it, it twigged what was actually creating that little sore spot. A freaking tick. “I’ll need tweezers,” he announced and I bounded off to get them to evaluate that teeny blood sucking intruder. Ugh. These adaptable creatures waste no time in seeking a meal once there is a whisper of spring.
The next day in my office I noticed a long dark floater marring my tea cup. It turned out to be an ant who had snuck in when I wasn’t watching. I discovered its brethren gathered in a mass watery grave inside my electric kettle which evidently offered easy access but a dangerous pool in the bottom. Ugh again. Ants. Another sure sign of spring. How easy to forget about these expected annoyances.
The challenges of the pandemic ease with the better weather. Even last year, with all its unknowns, the spring brought the possibilities of seeing people outside, biking, gardening, dog walking and a temporary reprieve of isolation. This year all those things are still true, and we have the vaccine increasingly protecting us, but like the spring temperatures which vacillate and yoyo from a teasing 75 (or more) to a chilly 45 (or less), so, too, are we subject to the vagaries and capriciousness of a virus which is far more dangerous than any ant, and more cameleon-like than any tick. Again, it is the cha-cha: front, back, step-in-place.
Just as we can’t let down our guard and box up our coats, so, too, we need to keep our masks around.
As a therapist, I remember that spring can be a particularly challenging time. People feel like now that the winter is past they “should” be feeling better, and if they aren’t, can wonder why not, and so feel even worse. So, too, as we begin to ease out of the pandemic, there’s reason for hope. But knowing that we’re not there yet can be particularly demoralizing.
We can take solace in the fact that no matter what we do, spring will make its way to summer, and before we know it we will be moaning about how many ninety degree days we have to endure before the temps drop to a more seasonable 70 or 80 degree comfort. We can only hope that our collective efforts at distancing and masking while we vaccinate will move us forward together toward greater freedom when the hottest temperatures arrive.