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What will the summer of 2020 hold?

Monday was Memorial Day and within hearing distance of my front porch, children were laughing and shouting at one another. It was a joyful sound, one of those beautiful sounds of summer. No one knew that there was a pandemic, nor that social distancing and masks were the new norm. Someone forgot to tell the children.
Summer is on its way, and it will be different from summers past — no Covered Bridge Festival, no music in the park on Saturday evenings, no Little League baseball, limited activities at our two state parks, very few if any Vacation Bible Schools, probably no homecomings, etc.
Under the pall of a pandemic, what will summer 2020 in Elizabethton look and feel like? A summer of sacrifice? Most certainly. A strange, surreal summer? Obviously. The COVID-19 crisis will test our resolve to embrace the community’s new summer aesthetic.
As the days grow longer and hotter, Americans will begin craving the rites of summer — afternoons at the pool or boating at the lake, evenings spent listening to music and eating outdoors. Those customs can’t look the same in a period of social distancing, but that doesn’t mean they should be abandoned.
Seems like every day we learn of another mainstay felled by the coronavirus. Who knows when or how the Boys of Summer will return? Assuming baseball returns, we probably will have to roar with joy at a base hit or home run from the confines of our living room. The Elizabethton Twins are planning to return, but probably without fans. What kind of season will that be — a baseball game with no fans?
For the most part, restaurants have re-opened. But, it is vastly different. Waiters with face masks, no buffets, and paper menus. Movie theaters have re-opened, but, they, too, have their restrictions. One alternative: the Americana experience of a drive-in movie. Park your cars and enjoy. Who needs megaplex recliners when you’ve got comfy bucket seats? Lately, drive-ins have been used for community gatherings, like church services and school graduations, why not a good movie on a summer evening?
There are myriad other ways to enjoy summer in Elizabethton and Carter County. This community is blessed with great parks, rivers, hiking trails, and other outdoor attractions. Take a walk, a run, a bike ride — at the proper distance. Families can still grill outside, and kids can still chalk out a game of hopscotch. Thumbing through a new book under the shade of a big oak or willow tree is still a wonderfully simple thing.
Some Americans have turned to board games or baking sourdough. But what about something a bit more active — like birdwatching? Bird enthusiasts have long touted their passion as a solitary way to enjoy the outdoors.
Or how about an afternoon or evening of fishing at the river? Social distancing will not be a problem. But, it could be a good way to learn a new pastime, and with some luck, catch dinner.
We’re being tested, yes, that’s true. The resilience we have shown so far will be needed, as will creativity — perhaps more so with the temptation to congregate that summer brings. This summer doesn’t have to be merely about survival. With the right mindset and a bit of tolerance, there’s a lot that we can salvage from this summer. Maybe even savor.
And perhaps a lesson we can take with us…is play and laugh like the children.