A few moments this week burned brightly and beautifully through the haze of our plague year.
Last Saturday, I drove my wife and mother-in-law through a mostly empty Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, past the horse barn and the grandstands, to an area that was brimming with life.
Volunteers wearing fluffy stocking caps and gloves against the chill were pointing us to the Dairy and Beef Pavillion, where my loved ones were finally able to get a vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The volunteers were wearing smiles so big that we could see them even underneath their masks, with the genuine joy showing in the crinkles of their eyes.
As the workers in reflective green “Lewis County” vests guided us through orange cones between the swine and cattle barns, I thought to myself of other times that Americans have organized themselves locally to respond to a national or global crisis.
“This is our World War II moment,” I thought to myself, marveling at how we as Americans have mobilized on every level to research, produce and distribute these vaccines.
Years from now, we’ll look back with pride on this time and how so many of us came together to support each other, to beat back death and disease through our united effort in a confusing time.
Sometimes I get distracted and dismayed by the people who claim this is somehow just a big conspiracy, but last Saturday that nonsense faded away. All I could do was bask in gratitude for the local volunteers, the national organizational effort and the international teams of scientists who created the vaccines that can keep my loved ones safe against this virus.
As we waited for our vaccine, my friend Edna Fund came over. She was one of the dozens of volunteers helping the drive-through vaccine clinic run smoothly.
“It goes so quickly, doesn't it?” she said.
There were nurses and providers from a variety of health care facilities, like Providence and Northwest Pediatrics. A call went out to all providers asking for help, and they responded.
The shot itself was quick and easy. (Find out more about the virus and vaccine from Lewis County Public Health at phsscovid19.lewiscountywa.gov.)
“I’ll need upper arms for you guys,” the nurse says. A quick poke and we were guided out to the parking lot beside the goat building. We waited there for 15 minutes to ensure there was no reaction. A paramedic ambulance waited in the corner of the lot in case he was needed, but it looked like he’d had a quiet day.
I marveled at the last time I had been in this parking lot. It was for the Beast Feast, the annual celebration of hunting and manly camaraderie. That seems like a long time ago, but those sorts of packed activities will be coming back eventually, thanks to the widespread vaccination clinics that will soon have the shots available for everyone who wants one.
I can’t wait.
When it comes to burning brightly, you couldn’t beat the view Thursday evening as the setting Chehalis sun set the horizon alight, setting over the new baseball fields at Recreation Park. The colors over Newaukum Hill were stunning, but ever better was to see the fields filled with children again.
My youngest son was among 100-some boys trying out for Little League baseball on a chilly but otherwise perfect evening.
Coaches evaluated their skills in hitting, fielding, running and catching as parents and younger siblings looked on.
It was an all-American scene that reminded us of the good life that we’re rapidly reapproaching.
We’re almost fully there, folks. Keep the masks on and keep your eyes on the immunization clinic.
Life is great in our hometown, and it’s coming back soon.
Brian Mittge is looking forward to getting his vaccine and getting back to the business of the busyness of the good life. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.