by Linda Shaffer
Last summer, I’m pretty sure I wrote something about living in a world of quarantine and the effects it had on our lives. At the time I didn’t think it was all that bad. Back then we could sit out back in Fernando’s Hideaway, feel the warm sun and afternoon breeze. We had flowers to enjoy looking at and weeds to pull. Birds tweeted, bees buzzed and life was good. We listened to music and talked about the good old days. Three comfy chairs (mama bear, papa bear and Grover bear), a glass of wine or beer and a few treats. Who could ask for anything more? Ah yes, but things change.
The one constant in aging is that we understand change and all the forms in takes. Note that I did not say we had to like change but we do have to embrace it or go nuts. The one change which dictates life on the Oregon Coast is weather. By this I mean that it rains here. It rains all year long but it REALLY rains in the fall, winter and spring. Oh, and sometimes in early summer. To survive you make peace with the rain and do your very best to keep it from moving in to your house, under your house or surrounding your house. It follows that you won’t travel far if it rains a lot either. Roads are just like houses but they tend to disappear more quickly when subjected to a lot of wet stuff. With all these things in mind, you must hang on to those memories of the summer sun and settle in for a long winter. Most of the old people I know don’t do well in rain, high winds and dark days.
For many of us, the pandemic has put a stop to socializing, dining out, overnight journeys and those visits we loved so much. We are left to ourselves, waving at the neighbors, talking on the phone or communicating on social media. We dodge our way through grocery stores trying to keep a safe distance, wash our hands a lot and feel odd if we aren’t wearing a mask once we get safely outdoors. Outdoor dining is supposed to be alright but if you are old you get cold and once that happens there isn’t enough food in the world to warm you back up. I guess you could rest your icy toes in a bowl of soup but that doesn’t seem quite right.
Creativity counts when dealing with a pandemic in winter. What seems like a good solution to me is hibernation. While several animals do this in some form or another, bears seem to have the original patent. They make a lovely nest for winter, gorge themselves, yawn and settle down for a nice long nap. The incredible thing is that they never have to go on a diet because they automatically lose weight during this time. I’ve put a lot of thought into how we are doing a version of hibernation right now. We got comfy chairs in early fall, put them in place in front of the TV and started preparing for winter by eating ice cream every evening. Grover hibernates too, choosing one of his two beds or two humans for sleeping. A big difference between real hibernation and our version is that we do not lose weight. We could be poster geezers for an AARP story on what not to do in winter. Sitting in the sun on those rare 50 degree days, preparing food, eating, watching TV and going to the bathroom are the major components of our fitness program. We burn additional calories by getting out of our chairs and going to bed each night. We are bears with furniture. This is shaping up to be a pretty good winter after all. All we have to do now is throw away the scales and hope for an early spring.