Emma June Grosskopf Mask

Yes, that title is a play on Great Expectations: a book I never read because a) no English class I ever took required it and b) my older brother Nate describes it as, and I quote, “garbanzo beans,” which, in my family, basically means it was drivel. I digress.

I’m going to try to avoid meaningless platitudes about summer and just tell you my experience with this time of year. Summer is a time for adaptation.

What do I mean by this? Well, I’m delighted you asked. Allow me to speak plainly.

Summer is a time for back sweat. It’s a time for sunburn. It’s a time for sitting on your front porch and having a spider crawl up your thigh. It’s a time for grudgingly having to do your toenails before wearing sandals out in public. It’s a time for thigh chafing.

Usually, I figure out lots of loopholes for summertime adaptations. For example, maybe I make friends with someone with a boat so I can tag along on the water to beat the heat (OK, OK, I know “beat the heat” is dangerously close to Meaningless Platitude Territory, so I’ll scale it back). And as far as bugs and sunburn? That’s why the Good Lord created bug spray, Raid and aloe. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a necessary adaptation, especially if you're like me and bugs are always trying to get up in your business and you’re prone to have your sunburn push you to Crispy Critter Status.

Sunglasses, sunblock, fans, flyswatters, air conditioning, those lawn chairs that have a little shelter that comes with them, kind of like a built-in parasol: these are all items that us sweaty, sunburnt, mosquito-bitten folks use to adapt during the summer.

This summer’s a tricky one, though, with COVID-19.

(This is where we hear a collective groan from the readers: “Not ANOTHER column about COVID! Make. It. Stop.)

I hear you, I hear you. Just because we are mentally over having to wear masks, having festivals and fairs canceled or seeing cringe-worthy Facebook posts about how the entire virus is a conspiracy doesn’t mean that we can just forget about it, though.

On top of all of our annual summer adaptations, this year we need to figure out how to solve some new issues. What do we do about a mask tan? What’s the protocol for wearing masks on the beach? Can we find masks to match our prom dresses?

Can the virus spread while I’m on vacation? My mom always says “beer kills the germs,” so, are you telling me that Ruth is wrong? Do you have to wear a mask at the Avalon?

If I am driving 5-plus hours to a beach, what do I do if rest areas are closed? Might I have to “rest” on the side of the road? These are the sorts of things I worry about, people.

All joking aside, now that businesses are open and everyone is doing their best to follow health guidelines, I’ve noticed a lot of adapting and moving forward in spite of restrictions.

For example, Friday I rode the Potomac Eagle’s first Sunset Excursion. It felt odd, taking pictures of riders who were all wearing masks. As passengers pointed delightedly at the eagles we passed, even though half of their faces were covered, it was easy to see how excited they were. And it wasn’t so bad.

The way we are going to get through Summer 2020 (or, as I’ve heard it referred to, “Bummer 2020”) is by continuing to adapt. We’re good at that. If we focus on the positives, and how to adapt to an unsavory situation, we won’t spend as much time lamenting the loss of the summer we expected. All those Great Expectations.

See? I brought it full-circle.

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