Morning Air

I was out of the house early this morning. Let’s qualify that: it was early for me, probably standard for lots of folks, and late for Lynn, who had harbored hopes of going to work at a leisurely 8 a.m. but instead got summoned summarily to fill in for an ailing colleague at 6:30.

The other day she got called in for an emergency afternoon by her boss, who had followed her into town and thus knew she was in town and perhaps available, after another colleague bolted out to meet her almost-adult son at the emergency room. He had been walking around with a large nail in his mouth, working on some home project, when he fell and drove the nail to the back of his throat.

While the hospital was prepared to airlift him out, his wound turned out to be more bloody than damaging, fortunately. His mother returned to work and announced, “This is why I have gray hair.” The lesson for the rest of you, and I’m sure four out of five doctors will agree with me, is: Don’t use your teeth as an opener device and for goodness sake keep sharp, pointy objects out of your mouth.

While the Post Office is monopolizing Lynn’s time, and work is literally stacking up at Pat’s Screen Printing — Gilly is busy creating a scale model of the Great Wall of China one box of T-shirts at a time — I spent a fair chunk of my afternoon yesterday at the doctor’s office.

Don’t be alarmed; I was not eating nails for lunch. This was that appointment where doctors hold you hostage: come in and see me, or I’ll never write another prescription for you as long as I live. And since last year’s health fair was postponed and then cancelled, and so far there’s been no announced plan for one — I’m guessing our health-provider volunteers are pretty maxed out with covid testing and vaccinations — my physician’s assistant ordered basic blood tests, including for cholesterol, which requires fasting.

Bright and early then, at least by my clock, this morning I headed for the hospital where no nails were involved save those on my fingers and toes. And no one had any particular interest in those.

Since my usual clock doesn’t particularly acknowledge an 8 a.m., and I haven’t really reconciled that we are almost midway through a year I feel is still getting underway, it was quite a pleasant surprise to step into one of Gunnison’s glorious summer mornings.

Later today, especially at Pat’s, the weather will turn beastly hot (all things are relative, remember, but in the production area it will turn into a stifling 90-plus degrees), without even the tease of yesterday’s dark cloud that bounced back promisingly from the east but with only four drops of rain to show for it, but at 8 a.m. in June it is hard to imagine a more pleasant place to be than Gunnison, Colorado.

The sun filters through this year’s slowly-greening trees; the air wafts fresh and clear at a temperate temperature that invites the use of a light jacket; and possibility abounds. It’s enough to make even a trip to the hospital lab seem like an outing.

Bear with this potential non-sequitur here: the plan at Pat’s was to continue wearing masks until all staff members are fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks past their second shot. Since Vann was, we think, the last person in the county’s database to get called to the vaccination center, and we now have not one but two 15-year-olds on staff, that meant going into mid-June while wearing masks.

Some customers walked maskless right past the sign explaining why we wanted them to still wear masks while a huge number of would-be customers balked at the sign and opted not to come in. When Vann was gone for half the day Monday, watching his wife’s idea of fun — running two miles, doing hundreds of push-ups, pull-ups and squats for a Crossfit demonstration — Kara realized everyone working was fully vaccinated and we went without masks.

The next day the governor announced vaccinated people would not be required to wear a mask anywhere in the state, and since many unvaccinated people were never wearing masks to begin with, it seemed like we were fighting a losing battle, and we took down our signs.

Vann reached his two-week mark yesterday; one 15-year-old gets his second shot this weekend and the other, the new one, hired mostly because a former Pat’s peep felt we might be a good fit for him and so far he’s been a great fit for us, gets his next week, and neither teenager spends much time near the customer area, so hopefully we’re keeping everyone reasonably safe.

So, after going three whole days without a mask, I went to the doctor’s office, where our county public health order mandates masks will still be worn (governors be damned), and this morning to the hospital, same mandate.

I have to say, it’s much easier to wear a mask sitting in the hospital waiting room at 8:30 a.m. than it is to wear one in the doctor’s office late in a hot afternoon, or at Ace Hardware, where I obliviously walked in, only to find all their staff still adhering to masks. They are not requiring it of their customers, but it still feels like it would have been the courteous thing to do.

That Ace trip, to pick up masking tape, followed right on the heels of stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office, where my poundage appears to have taken quite a pounding. It showed me seven pounds heavier than my pre-covid existence.

Now, the doctor’s office blood pressure cuff always measures my pressure at a much more impressive (lower) number than I get from the cuff I have at home, and since I was on my mom’s home scale just about a month ago and hers only had me three pounds over, I’m going to blame faulty equipment at the doctor’s office. Even if I can’t fasten my jeans at the top button.

So it probably didn’t hurt, other than physically, that I had to ride my bike uphill into a brisk wind out of the east, where it rarely comes from, to get masking tape back to the printers.

However, it would have been so much more pleasant to have ridden a bike this morning, out in the cool summer-morning air, not fighting any wind. On the few days I do get out, I always think to myself, “This is so lovely; I should do this more often.” And then I come to my senses, or lack of them, and realize that while my sense of adventure doesn’t extend to sword, or nail, swallowing, it likewise doesn’t leave me predisposed to go out on early-morning walks or bike rides.

Perhaps that makes me appreciate a morning like this morning all that much more. Enjoy your day, wherever you may be.

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