We went to the Catfish Festival on Saturday. As I pushed little sister’s stroller, with Mama and the Boy walking behind us, I looked around and laughed to myself. Maybe it wasn’t so much a laugh as it was a sigh. This time last year I wouldn’t have been caught dead there. All those people. There wouldn’t have been enough hand sanitizer or face masks in the world.

We saw some family we hadn’t seen in a while. My cousin was showing his vintage car in the car show.  There were hugs. Did I even hug anyone outside my household past March of last year? I did, but it made me uneasy. On Saturday, it gave me a warm feeling.

The boy jumped in the bouncy house with several other kids. I held little sister and we watched through the mesh as he jumped and flipped and flopped and fell. He smiled smiles that were purely and simply total sunshine and happiness. This time last year such a sight would have given me severe anxiety. At least I would have taken Clorox wipes to the whole thing before I would have let him set foot in it.  And I probably would have made him wear a hazmat suit.

I tried to get the boy to take a pony ride. It might sound selfish, but I really wanted a picture of him on a pony. I told him I didn’t know how he was going to be a farmer if he wouldn’t ride a horse. “I’m just going to drive a tractor,” he said. He had a point I guess. Little sister can’t talk much and wasn’t in much of a position to protest me sitting her up on a little horsey.

She sat on it for a second but wanted off before he started walking. I didn’t get a picture, but the memory of her standing outside of the little corral, swaying back and forth with delight on her face as she watched the ponies walk round and round, well that’s as good as any picture.

Last May I would have been much to uptight to have let my kids around ponies being that pets can catch COVID and all.

From what I can remember, we made the most last year of what we had. Parts of it seemed to last a lifetime and now it seems like it was a lifetime away. I don’t know if there will ever be such a long span of time when we don’t go to public events or family gatherings.

There are times when I am very anti-social and don’t enjoy those things anyway, but Saturday reminded me that its really nice to have that sort of thing at least once in a while.

I don’t think that COVID is over, but it feels like it’s almost over and I want it to be over.  Of course, I have fears of a resurgence. I have fears of something worse. Maybe that’s just my naturally terrible anxiety talking. I don’t know whether or not this is just the eye of the storm we’re in.

Maybe there’s a wall of turbulence ahead, just like the one we just got through. Right now though it sure is nice to see my kids live the life they were deprived of last year.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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