BY THE TIME this column reaches the eyes of most readers, the Covid-19 crisis will have either started to recede or will still be advancing its savage assault. Either way, by then, a lot more pain, suffering and death will have been inflicted throughout the world and in particular across a huge swath of the American landscape.
We’re Baby Boomers. Polio threatened our childhoods. We remember nuclear attack drills in our classrooms. We remember being kept home from school at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We watched the Vietnam War on TV every night with our parents. We sweated through double-digit inflation in the late Seventies. We remember the worldwide panic that the AIDS epidemic sparked in the 1980s and 1990s. Of course, we remember 9/11. We certainly felt the pain of the Great Recession. We’ve ridden out hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.
But we have never, in our lifetimes, seen anything on this scale. No event or threat, not the real fear of nuclear annihilation, not the shock of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, not polio or AIDS, not Katrina or Ike or Harvey, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, genocidal wars or even the Kardashians have been able to do what this virus has done—bring all of the world’s economies to a screeching halt and capture the undivided attention of nearly every person on the face of the Earth.
Everything from big league sports to the most mundane of daily tasks has taken a backseat to this coronavirus, and with good reason. No one was immune to it when it struck, and so it spread like a global wildfire. Even though the majority of those infected show mild or even no symptoms, there seems to be an almost Russian Roulette nature to it—no rhyme or reason to who gets really sick or even dies, and who doesn’t, regardless of age or prior health condition. So we have to take it seriously.
“Social Distancing” will be a top contender for Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer are the new Bitcoin. Working from home is a lot more do-able than bosses ever believed. Life as we know it has changed, and some things very likely forever.
How long this crisis lasts is still unknown as we write this in early April. It is also unknown how much more our lives will change before they begin to shift back to what may become the new normal. So we all have had to find ways to cope and to deal with the day-to-day inconveniences and anxieties of whatever lock-down conditions we may be under.
Stay-in-place orders and quarantines allow for, and even encourage outdoor activity. Sunlight is a reliable ally in the battle against viruses, and getting outdoors is a proven treatment for cabin fever. Not everyone is fortunate to be holed up in a lake house or bay front cabana, or on a nice piece of huntable land. If you are, we know how you will be dealing with the isolation.
But access for everybody else has become a problem. Boat ramps, state parks and many community parks were closed as our deadline approached and it is likely that, even if they have been re-opened it will have been with major restrictions. Meanwhile, mixed signals have come from our leaders. While access was being restricted, the State government declared fishing and hunting “Essential Activities.”
This is a rapidly moving story, and paper-and-ink journalism is not the best tool for keeping up with it. Fortunately, TEXAS FISH & GAME has digital versions that can bring you the latest developments. Go to FishGame.com for news on the pandemic and its impact on the outdoors. There, you can sign up to receive our free emal newsletter which will include special editions for Covid-19 updates. If and when the State sorts out how they intend to facilitate the “essential” pursuit of fishing and hunting, we’ll be on top of it. We will also share creative ideas for helping active sportsmen deal with this forced downtime.
As you read this, most of us will have been cooped up for a month, and probably still don’t know when we can get back to enjoying the full bounty of the Texas Outdoors.
One thing to consider: Because this is such an unprecedented crisis, it has been difficult to forecast the ultimate outcome while in the midst of fighting it. Yes, we should have seen it coming and we sat on our asses while it advanced beyond our defenses. But let’s leave the finger pointing to the historians. For now, let’s focus on the one aspect of this event that defines it—its utter uniqueness in the realm of modern crises. Once the health impact has been absorbed and, hopefully, resolved, the world will have to deal with the economic aftermath of entire industries being frozen in place for months, off-the charts unemployment and supply chain disruption. But unlike the Great Depression and the World Wars, the economic wounds inflicted by this crisis hit a substantially stronger body. Who is to say that our recovery won’t be rapid and robust? That is the upside of traversing such an uncharted path. All we have to do is survive—get to the other side. And we will.
Until then, we just have to sit tight, watch our backs, and wait it out. Things like this remind us of W.T. Stapler, the old head football coach at Conroe High School. He used to push his varsity players onto the practice fields on hellishly hot September afternoons with the enticing promise, “Time is gonna pass, boys. Time is gonna pass.”
This will end. We will come out of it. Time is gonna pass.