Covid’s Upsides

It hasn’t been all bad. Covid has actually brought some cool upsides. Here’s a Baker’s Dozen:

– Jazz
– Major Walkage
– Litter
– SUP & Bottle Dumps
– Back in the Classroom
– Zoom
– New Work-Out Routine
– Mindfulness Meditation
– G-town
– Cooking
– Beard
– Harmonica
– The Bell Tolls 

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-77)

Jazz – Back in college I learned that when it comes time to study or write, my listening needs to stick with instrumentals.  Otherwise, I either obsess over the lyrics or start bellowing them aloud.  So, during the endless logged-on days of the past year, my jazz playlist has been blowing up.  Love affairs were rekindled with the likes of Chet Baker, Brubeck, Bill Evans, Deodato, Oscar Peterson, Miles, Mingus, Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Stanley Turrentine. New obsessions have taken hold with Hank Mobley, Horaces Parlan and Silver, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Webb, and San Gabriel 7.

Major Walkage – Since 1985, I have played full court hoops 3+ times a week. Not only did Covid force me into withdrawal, I acquired an abdominal strain that limited my running. So, I got into walking.  Thanks to Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, and The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT), there are scores of beautiful hiking trails within 15 miles of the Hyde campus.  (Heck, two awesome ones are accessible right off High Street!)  True Confession: Prior to Covid, I am embarrassed to admit that I had hiked a grand total of… drum roll… one of them!  In the past year, I’ve done maybe 20, several of them multiple times.

Thorne Head Preserve, Bath

Sometimes my better half has joined me.

Thorne Head Trail (Bath)

For a while, I got into walking railroad tracks. Why? Maybe because you’re not supposed to?

Bridge Over the River Nequasset – (Woolwich, ME)

Bridges are especially exciting.

Bridge Over the River New Meadows (W. Bath, ME)

But, most of all, you notice more on two feet than you do when your arms are gripping a steering wheel. That is, provided you keep your eyes open.

“So, you’re the little lady that started this great big war?” – Abraham Lincoln

Litter – Walking the roadsides unexpectedly opened my eyes to various litter themes. Exhibit A:

Litter We Would Not Have Seen Prior to March of 2020

It also showed me that Midcoast Mainers have a thing about Fireball.  Exhibit B:

Litter We Saw Prior to March, 2020, Have Seen Since, and Will, in All Likelihood, Continue to See Post-Covid

SUP & Bottle Dumps – Speaking of litter, on one of my SUP adventures on the Kennebec last summer, I chanced upon a bountiful low-tide-only bottle dump in a location that shall remain nameless. (Antique bottle hounds guard their secrets like fishermen.) Had some great finds!

One Man’s Trash… The River Kennebec (Georgetown, ME)

Saw this tugboat for sale in Richmond.

Tug For Sale – Richmond, ME

And on those special occasions when the SUP gods line up both tide and wind in your favor, you can fly! (Just be sure you’ve got a ride back.)

Back in the Classroom – Shortly after we learned that Spring Break 2020 was going to be more permanent than we had expected, my boss (with whom I also sleep), informed me that I was going to be taking over a music class.  I asked, “Do you realize that you now have a music teacher who cannot read music?” She replied, “You’ll think of something.” Then she added, “Oh, I forgot to mention, your students will be Zooming in from three different continents?”  Me: “What is this Zoom thing of which you speak?”

First off, I seized the opportunity to safeguard the music t-shirt collection I had amassed that Laura has been trying to throw out for years. Each class, I wore a different t-shirt, offering extra credit for written observations explaining the significance of the bands or musicians pictured on the front of each one.

Then it was time to teach.  As a main focus, we Zoomed in alumni professional musicians spanning three decades of graduating classes: 1988 to 2018.  Former music teacher Matt Newberg joined us for a session as did 9-time Grammy nominee (and 2-time Hyde alum parent) John Hiatt. While the kids wondered who John Hiatt was, some of their parents jumped on to that session.  In all, we had a blast.  Thanks alums!

Alum Musicians – Classes of ’88 thru ’18  Clockwise from the John Hiatt poster: Matt Newberg, Bailey Kent ’18, Zach Hurd ’99, Georgia Hurd ’03, Mark Radcliffe (former faculty), Adam Stern ’04, Liah Alonzo ’97, and Chris Chickering ’88 in the center

Zoom – Pre-Covid I needed serious hand-holding. Now I’m better at Zoom than I want to be.

New Work-Out Routine – The problem with hiking is that the heart rate doesn’t get up as high as I’d like.  So, I got into this 3-part walk-run routine that utilizes my lucky number (18).

  • Mile #1 = 3 runs: Walk a 10th (of a mile), run a 10th, walk a 10th, run 2-10ths, walk a 10th, run 4-10ths;
  • Do 12 sprints – anywhere from 100-200 yards each. Sometimes I do it on an athletic field, sometimes it’s just alternate telephone poles along the road.
  • Repeat Mile #1 sequence.

So, when all is… er… walked and run, there are 18 stretches of running.  I found that it got my heartbeat up while not straining my abdomen. I also have never had this long of a stretch without an overuse running injury.  I doubt I’ll go back to the old way of non-stop running. Would never have tried, let alone developed, this approach without Covid.

Mindfulness Meditation – A decade or so ago, I got all into mindfulness meditation after attending an Omega Institute (NY) retreat. I read all the books and practiced daily for a couple of years.  Then I fell off the path.  Given that Covid came with more alone time than any of us could have imagined, I decided to make a new start thru Headspace.  The results: better mood & more serenity. (I highly recommend Headspace. If you are a total beginner, they’ll walk you thru the intro with a free 10-day course demanding a mere five minutes per day. Then the full package can support anyone at any level.)

G-town – In 1989, Laura and I purchased a small getaway spot 12 miles from the Hyde campus in Georgetown. Given life & work at Hyde, we haven’t spent nearly as much time there as we had intended.  However, I’d wager that I have spent more time there in the past year than I have in the previous 30. Our setting on the eastern shore of the Kennebec ensures amazing sunsets.

Sunset w/Neighbors (Georgetown, ME)

And speaking of walking, one need not stray far to chance upon any number of iconic scenes worthy of a Maine postcard.

Red House & 3 Boats (Georgetown, ME)

And as these surfers know, Reid at sunset never disappoints.

Reid State Park Sunset

Cooking – Pre-Covid, I either ate in the Hyde Student Union or generously supported local establishments with my take-out dollars.  Been cooking up a storm for the past year.  Love it!

Beard – Grew a beard. Just like back in college. Except this one turned out a lot whiter than I had envisioned. Shaved it off.

Harmonica – Not only does all that alone time offer up endless practice opportunities, there’s nobody around to tell you to shut it off.

Rock & Roll Christmas

But most of all, “There were bells on a hill, but I never heard them ringing until there was you.”

LDG Rings the 1971 Bell at 2020 Commencement

Onward, Malcolm Gauld