What's Tony Thinking

Summertime and the Living Is . . . Complicated


Here’s a summer solstice riddle. Yesterday morning, on one of the longest days of the year and with totally clear blue skies in Seattle, I went for a run in Discovery Park and it was dark, far darker than it had been at the time of spring equinox in March. Why?

Because the Park’s deciduous trees, chiefly Red Alder and Big Leaf Maple, were now completely leafed out, darkening the woodland trails with shadow and shade.

It’s summer and, apologies to George Gershwin, the living is not easy . . . it’s complicated. A new spike in COVID diagnoses and deaths has reminded us that the virus hasn’t gone away. We, of famously short attention spans, have been brought up, well, short.

We were ready for summer, for relaxing most everything. At least I was. Alas, relaxing our COVID precautions, is not in the cards, at least for now, at least for this summer.

Trump trooped to Tulsa to deplore testing for the infection. Which is truly incredible. Like saying the problem with drinking contaminated water is knowing that it’s contaminated. If we don’t know it’s poison then it’s fine for us to drink. Aargh . . . testing is not the problem. The virus is the problem. And unlike other Trump antagonists, it isn’t much cowed by the Presidential bad-mouthing or twitter attacks. It is, in fact, completely indifferent to Trump’s theatrics and faux outrage. It is a stubborn fact that will not be willed away by intoning “fake news.”

And it is indifferent to our desires for normal summer activities and plans. Leaving us with a summer that is . . . complicated. Our family is doing a dance that might be called, variation on Hamlet, “to go or not to go.” Going, that is, to the ancestral lands in Northeastern Oregon.

My observation is . . . (I repeat myself), it is complicated. Some are assured by social distancing and masks and are setting out for hikes, camping, backpacking and the usual activities of the season. And still others, no so sure. Not so comfortable.

Who’s right? That’s probably the wrong question. This is more of a “to thine own self be true” moment. With this exception: those who blow off all precautions in the name of liberty are confusing liberty with license. Your liberty does not allow you to jeopardize other’s health.

Beyond that, you gotta do what you gotta do. And you don’t get to second-guess someone else — not unless they are putting you or your family in jeopardy.

But here’s one  bright summertime note, a personal one.

One of my paintings, of Kokanee Salmon spawning in the Wallowa River has been selected for the “Wild Landscapes” exhibition to be held at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon in late July and early August. The work’s title is “Upstream.” While my painting and drawing have appeared in several other exhibits, this is the first time one of mine has been selected for a juried show.

I’m just hoping that people will be able to enter the exhibit and see it as well as the other 41 pieces in the exhibit.

And I’m hoping that all of us, you and me, can dig deep and go another mile or two in the face of a pandemic that we really wish were over, but isn’t and is likely to be with us for quite some time yet. Keep on keeping on.


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