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View from Hickory Heights: Our lost summer

Although the coronavirus has canceled the Warren County Fair for this year, it does not stop me from thinking about it.

I served on the board of directors for 19 years — all of that doing the publicity and advertising. It is very much a part of my summer.

Last summer my husband and I spent the week at the fair for the first time together. He had told his daughter that he did not know how he would be able to find something to do for the whole week. He ended up doing just fine. That was the first time he had spent a week at the fair. The first time he’d ever camped there.

We had my dog with us, but his dog was boarded at the vets. He is a barker. My dog has been to the fair for all six years of his life. He is used to the routine.

We made sure we saw the shows, after all maybe one of the stars would become famous and we did not want to miss seeing him. Well, Riley Greene has had some hits this year so we were not disappointed. The other group was well known. People traveled from all over to see them. A friend of Don’s sat right in front of us along with his family.

My grandchildren have taken cows to the fair for years. This year Carly will miss the fair. She is on her way to Texas A&M to enroll in veterinary school there. She is not the only one missing the fair this year. COVID-19 has made all of us miss it.

It seems like this is the summer that wasn’t. There is absolutely nothing happening this summer. For the first time nearby Chautauqua Institution canceled it season. Up until this year I had been spending a week there taking in lectures and church services. Pat and I decided last fall not to make reservations for this year. How fortunate that we had not made a deposit for a room!

The only thing we have managed is family picnics — even those missing part of the family.

It is just Don and I and our dogs. The dogs certainly are doing their best to keep us fit. We are up and down often letting them in and out. It seems they do not keep the same schedule so we are going to the door quite often.

Don golfs two days a week. He is on the senior league at Blueberry and Cable Hollow. Often at Cable he plays eighteen holes so he gets plenty of exercise doing that.

We have trimmed the shrubs and cut down some bushes. Couple that with mowing the lawn and we keep busy.

I have done a lot of cooking so we have had balanced meals. We have eaten well. I have tried a number of new recipes and have dug out some that I have not made in quite a while. I have found new recipes on the Internet – some for main course and some desserts. Don especially likes the sweet treats that I make.

I found a new way to cook chicken that I really like. All you do is cook the chicken in a crock pot along with lemon zest, the juice of a lemon, garlic and onion powder, some chicken broth, and salt and pepper. It stays so moist. I have cooked chicken legs, thighs, and breasts this way and we have enjoyed it. The flavor is very good. One day I did not have a lemon so I used an orange instead. It was just as good. It cooks for five to six hours on low and does not heat up the kitchen.

Who could have predicted what 2020 would bring? In mid-March everything came to a screeching halt. Churches closed. Schools shut down. Restaurants closed. Hair salons and exercise businesses were shut down. Only essential businesses were allowed to stay open.

My question for the governor is: Why was it that the big box stores were safe to go into when all of the little businesses were not? Personally, I would have felt more at home going to the little mom and pop stores where they know your names and what you purchase on a weekly basis. There would only be a couple customers at a time. The other thing I want to know is why we are all governed by the same regulations that the big cities had. Out in the rural areas things are different than in the big cities. Spacing alone makes a difference and the statistics bear this out.

Our area has only counted about a dozen cases of the virus and some of those are probable. Some of the small businesses are not going to recover. They shuttered their doors never to open again. That is a tragedy. Living thriving businesses were put out of business purposely.

I know life is not fair. I have found that out several times in several ways. This whole shutdown is not fair to anyone. People say it has saved lives, but has it really? Were we not all in jeopardy when we went to the big box stores? Unless you have been having your supplies delivered you have been exposing yourself. Even the mail exposes us. Do you leave your groceries and packages outdoors for 24 hours to be sure they are germ free?

The big box stores have definitely benefitted. They have been rolling in the money while all of the little guys have struggled. Once again, my thinking gets me in trouble.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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