Tuesday Trippin’ April 6 & 13

Pine branch, Polk County, GA

Another “Trippin'” post that covers two weeks here, I don’t think it will become the norm. Leading up to April 6 was a whirlwind, shifting into better rides again (while dealing with those incredible spring pollen counts) and then back into sickness again. The first illness with the weight loss that I mentioned last post really kicked me. I kept thinking I was better then realizing I was not at regular strength, and before getting there, the second illness hit. First Russ got it, then me. It felt like rhinovirus (a cold), but no shortness of breath, so I didn’t seek a Dr. or a test. They just treat for symptomatic relief anyway. We each had about 3 miserable days surrounded by less miserable days on either end, timed perfectly to blow away some free that time we planned to use better.

We have tried to be careful. Last week I got a flat on the trail and chose to walk 2-plus miles back to the car. The skin on my hands is thin and fragile from washing and I just didn’t want to hurt them. Getting something contagious is maddening in the age of ‘rona if you’re among those taking that good ol’ “abundance of caution”. Repeatedly getting something contagious feels defeating. During the pandemic of the century, the last thing a person wants is evidence that they haven’t been careful enough, or that their immune system isn’t strong enough. Whatever the contagious thing that got you is, it could have been Covid-19 instead. Being high risk without healthcare makes that so scary. The morbidity rates most quoted are based on the general public, and it’s less clear what odds a high risk person has. They don’t really quote odds on people for whom a lengthy hospital stay is not possible at all. The reasons for that aren’t pretty.

Trying to see it from a cool distance, the uncontrollable nature of the spread underscores the interconnected nature of life. Our house is a microcosm of everything complicating the spread. With “essential workers” and multiple generations in our house (including young children with shared custody). Our bubble has multiple households and is oh so penetrable, with every person reliant on the choices every other person. Georgia’s executive orders preventing any Covid based changes to custody arrangements took away any semblance of self-determination to risk levels. A pandemic bubble is only as strong as the weakest link and the utter lack of control over our own fate was more than a little stressful. We really have been together/apart in so many more ways than the obvious ones, and not just with corona virus either. I’m sure countless people will write long tomes exploring their particular insights into what was, what wasn’t, and what could have been. Mine would begin with some of the many reasons this was an exceptional time to internalize “Tragedy of the Commons” in new ways and how we could achieve such a truly beautiful future if we did.

Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. It’s not such a surprise this was the worst year for illnesses I’ve had for a while, maybe forever. even with the extra precautions. I still believe the riding and the project prep has made a tremendous difference for us. On that first day that we ventured out after the stay at home order, when so many of the trails were closed I had no idea how unfit I’d become in such a short time. Back when deciding to drive almost 100 miles distance to reach open trails seemed crazy, it took me only a few miles to realize it wasn’t. I don’t really want to think about where I/we would be without the cardio, the escape and the release that has come from making it a priority to get out there and prepare for this project. I’m counting this as another time that the trail has saved me from lesser fates.

Pollen Season

The warmer temps brought pollen. As I drove up to the trail one day, I could see yellow air down the path and started fishing around to find a neck gaiter. Every time I mention the Atlanta counts to a particular family member, she suggests that hers are worse because there are more trees in her rural location. However, this article about the 3 decades of research done by Tom Ogren suggests that, as usual, we are our own worst enemies. In the US, landscapers and urban planners like to plant male trees to avoid messy fruits, but…well.. read the link, and then share it with your HOA, allergist or garden club. This is only one of the many reasons you hope your urban planners are getting their continuing education. Our Atlanta counts are high, but Islamabad is reported to be the worst in the world. Their reason is manmade too, but caused by the choice to plant paper mullberries. If you’d like to know what you should plant, natives are almost always safe. These people, or your local librarian (yes those guys are still around and way cooler than you suspect).

I have so much to say and things are looking up, but I’m going to stop and save it for next week and beyond