I must apologise for last month’s grumpy column. It came very close to feeling hopeless, though I did finish with the hope that things were going to get better. Well, they have. Things have definitely gotten better and I can feel the difference, the relief.
It’s not quite as relieving as when Trump lost the election, back in November. That felt like half a mountain had lifted from my shoulders. This is more subtle. Like when you are winded and suddenly start remembering how to breathe again.
There are four reasons for this:
1) First there is the landscape: Spring is everywhere. Every day brings some new beautiful thing to surprise me. Primroses, bluebells, tiny little calves, foxes, lambs frolicking – you get my drift. Every year I am astonished at how in tune with the landscape I am after living on the same little piece of this planet for the past 28 years. Whatever doldrums I emerge from after the dead winter, the greening of the landscape is the tonic that I need to shake off the doom and gloom.
2) The Weather: To be accurate, I should really say the temperature and the light. I am Mediterranean by blood and by birth. I spent the first five years of my life in Spain. My body was not conditioned for anything below 10C. It just shuts down. It’s the same with the light. The Norwegians may well relish the dark months, but my body figures that it’s time to build up body fat and sleep. In winter I feel a great sense of community with hibernating bears.
3) All of County Cork: Yes all of it! After three months of being stuck in a five-mile radius of winter fields, I can go anywhere in County Cork. Like many of you, my first outing was to the coast. I filled up the tank and took the coast road, visiting all my favourite coves and beaches. At most of them I was alone. When I did bump into others they were people that I know. The joy of chatting to them was like the sea air that I found myself gulping like a greedy child. A few days later I ventured out to Inchydoney. What a shock! People. Lots of people. Again, the joy of chatting to people, friends and strangers alike, was as intoxicating as the magnificent view. Having a crepe and a coffee in the blazing sunshine, under a bright blue sky, felt like going on a luxury holiday.
4) Vaccination registration: Friday, April 23, registration for my age group opened and I am ‘delira’. I was a little disappointed to get a rather vague “you will be contacted in the next few weeks”, instead of a firm date, but sure look… Sometime in the hopefully not-too-distant future I will get my jab and it feels like the first step towards finally being let out of this lockdown limbo. I’ll spare ye my own health issues (here’s a clue: I smoked for all of my adult life). Suffice it to say that getting Covid-19 would not be pleasant, and could be very serious.
I know that the whole vaccination thing is fraught and emotional. The issue has become so polarised that I have found myself prefacing any conversation about vaccinations with the disclaimer, “I don’t know how you feel about vaccinations, but I’m looking forward to getting one.” If you disagree with me on getting the vaccine, there’s something I want you to know. I don’t think you are stupid. I respect your personal choice. Please, let’s not make this an issue to lose friends and family over.
Personally, I don’t get what the big deal is. I travelled a lot as a child. Vaccinations, passports, visas and vaccination certificates were an integral part of travelling. My mother had us drink lots of water, take an aspirin, and wave our vaccinated arm around to dampen the side effects. There were countries you couldn’t get into without vaccinations. There were countries you could get into, but couldn’t go home from without vaccinations. There still are. Before I volunteered to work in Nea Kavala Refugee camp in Greece, I had to get a rake of shots. Most were mandatory, but it was also suggested that I get a flu jab. I had never had one, and didn’t want it. MY GP however insisted, saying that the chance of getting cholera was pretty low, but that influenza was rife in refugee camps. I got the jab. It was grand. I didn’t get sick and have had one every year since.
Vaccinations are important. How you feel about them is important. But what is more important is how we feel about each other. After all the summer is on its way for everyone.