Letter from the Vineyard 30 June 2021 As if almost normal…

Sailboats on the water

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It is a quiet Vineyard morning, broken only by the soft cooing of birds outside my window, the rustling of tree leaves in the gentle wind.  The weather is golden, promising sun and warmth; beaches will be swarmed.

It’s the end of June [how did it get to be the end of June 2021?], next weekend is the 4th of July; the island is already bursting with people, whose pent-up energy to be out and about fills the streets with palpable energy.  The bookstore is thronged.

It’s a Wednesday, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I am officially “off” though rarely completely so.  In the wild thrash that is this Vineyard summer of 2021, books need to be ordered every day and I am the book buyer of record.  

The other day I was up by 6:30, papers spread all around me, ordering books, happy as a clam.  It is good at my age to have intellectual demands made of me.

Like most Main Street businesses, Edgartown Books is busier than ever as the country comes sweeping out of its Covid lockdown, people more than ready to feel free once again, travel again, be in a bookstore again.  The yearning for physical books to hold, read, love is tangible as folks wander, looking for the right read for this new time.  “People We Meet on Vacation,” by Emily Henry, is the paperback beach read of choice.  Though weightier tomes like Walter Issacson’s “The Code Breaker,” are doing better than I would have thought.

It is a summer, understandably, when people just want to breathe, feel normal, act normally, live without hiding behind a mask, to celebrate victory over a pandemic that has held us in its thrall for sixteen months, grateful for vaccines setting us free.

Sometimes, standing on the generous porch at the bookstore, I watch the crowds go by, laughing, jostling, embracing, enjoying, licking ice cream cones, or spooning cups of it, almost all mask less.  But every tenth person or so is still hidden behind one, reminding us it is not all normal out there.

While we party, the Delta variant is wreaking havoc on the unvaccinated; even some who have been vaccinated, though the current crop of vaccines, a medical and scientific miracle in the speed with which they came to be in our arms, seem to be effective in preventing us from getting too sick or dying.

Down in the south, where vaccination resistance has been highest, the Delta variant is causing fresh anguish.  Republicans have shown the most resistance to vaccination. The former president, who has been vaccinated since January, has ignored appeals to encourage his followers to get “the jab,” as Brits call it.

This morning I read that traffic to news sites of all flavors of political persuasion has dropped precipitously since Mr. Trump left office, with the greatest drop amongst right leaning sites.  People of a liberal persuasion seem universally relieved to not hear the Trump drumbeat at every turn; I suspect some of conservative leanings feel the same, if not so vocal about it.

Let us remember, he is not gone.  Recently he journeyed to Ohio, met by thousands of breathless followers, who believe he is still president, many believing in Q-Anon; we’re really run by an elite group of pedophiles, and Trump really won in 2020.  While mind boggling, it is the truth for many Americans and that solid, stolid belief poses a challenge and a threat to the fabric of our country.

Obama has called it, “hooey,” but it is hooey a significant minority of Americans believe.

God save us.

In the meantime, my second cup of coffee is nearly gone, Big Band Jazz is playing.  I’m off to enjoy this brilliant Vineyard day, away from the bookstore [a bit].  With book buying to be done, I think I’ll find a spot with leafy shade, close enough Wi-Fi will work, do my ordering while sipping a glass of something cool.

“Martha’s Vineyard – Massachusetts” by David Berkowitz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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