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Mack Williams: Not your usual walk in the park

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
I took a walk in the park; but it was definitely not the proverbial “walk in the park” (the “not a care in the world” kind).
Only a few other people walked at some distance from me. In the exact opposite of the norm, their distant images seemed clearly defined. But if they dared come closer than they should, those clear images became blurred.
Almost three years ago, we were all excited about seeing a comparatively benevolent corona during the solar eclipse of 2017; but this corona is different.
The park is advertised as a hot park, but not a hot spot, (the viral way in which New York City is presently described). Like WiFi, coronavirus is unseen, except with an electron microscope.
The children’s area was closed. The playground equipment was surrounded by chicken wire to keep out those who might also ignore the secondary sign: “Do not use the play items!” The park’s administrators did the best they could; but I imagine the only thing which chicken wire has ever kept out (or in) is chickens.
Instead of children enjoying the now-empty playground equipment, I imagined a Hun-like hoard of viruses on holiday, lingering for some time on the playground equipment’s surfaces. The members of the COVID-19 Club (the deadly “Little Rascals”) were climbing gymnastics bars where children had once climbed, and sliding through tubular slides through which children had once slid.
I equally imagined squeals of delight exuding from these viral entities during their imagined playground recess from weightier matters. If they do scream there with deadly delight, I’m sure it’s completely beyond my aural perception.
A lady sipped a bottle of water while sitting on a metal bench.
Although I’m sure her bottled water was free of microbial material, I imagined her sitting on a pile of germs left there by others. In my opinion, she would have done better to have either sat or laid down in spring’s clean, green grass. Perhaps viruses get lost in such grass, maybe even being inhaled into the ground below by some form of earthly breath as part of the cycle of life and death of the virus itself.
Some park workers wore neon yellow-green vests while eating lunch at a picnic table. They seemed closer together than the distance prescribed by national health professionals; but perhaps, working together, they felt like family.
As a sign of the times, whenever I saw a few people there, I thought:”What are they doing in my park?” (and I’m sure they thought the same of me.
I noticed a bicycler at some distance; and imagined her moving down the trails like a jet with a vapor trail following her. Except in her case, instead of a vapor trail, it was a revved-up-by-exercise exhaled breath trail, containing microbial gosh-knows-what. I was glad not to be nearby.
Once, my left foot slipped off of the asphalt, onto the grass; and I almost lost, but quickly recovered, my footing. I was momentarily more concerned about the distance between me and the ground instead of the distance between me and another person.
The exercise did me good, but by the time I left the park my lungs seemed half-filled with something. Remembering our good ol’ Williams family medical history, I knew it to be only pollen, pollen which never before had felt so reassuring.

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