We move to a Pasadena in California towards the end of last year. Our objective is to establish ourselves in this new place after decades of living in Massachusetts. That includes getting to know people, participating in local events, and enjoying what this lovely town has to offer. There is plenty in each category. Pasadena offers a well-run Senior Center, several health clubs, a very good library system, free lectures at Caltech, performances by Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, several gardens and parks with lots of green spaces, many non-profits where we can offer our services and make new friends, and the San Gabriel Mountains where we can hike to heart’s content. There is also an active restaurant scene with places to eat and drink. We quickly start making friends and get involved with all types of activities. We hike on nearby trails.
Then Covid hits us. Almost everything is closed. No Senior Center, no symphony, no lectures to attend, no restaurants to go to. Worse, we can’t even develop the budding social relationships with our new friends. We are concerned that these friendships may get snuffed out under the load of Covid restrictions.
However, we are grateful that we haven’t contracted that dreadful disease unlike so many others, even some who we know. As we are retired, we don’t have to be concerned about paychecks, or getting exposed to people we do not know.
We are also grateful that after an initial period, we can begin our hiking. We can meet at least some of our friends as long as we maintain social distances. Also, our children become a part of our pod and so we can spend a lot of time with them.
Then one of the worst heatwaves hit us. The temperature goes soaring into 115-degree range. Hiking on exposed trails (that includes most of the trails around us) is impossible. Even our neighborhood walking is possible only during early morning or late evening.
However, we are grateful that we have covered patios where we can sit and relax. Have a drink. Also, we do not have to work outdoors, unlike our gardener, señor Guadalupe, who comes every Wednesday and cuts grass even in those horrid temperatures. We meanwhile relax in our airconditioned house.
Then comes the season of forest fires. One of the worst in California’s history. One major fire in the Los Angeles area is right in our backyard…in San Gabriel Mountains, where we go hiking. Tens of thousands of acres are already gone with no end in sight. The smoke from the fire has made our air quality quite poor and even dangerous. Now our daily walks have come to a stop. We can’t even sit outside for a drink or relax.
However, we are grateful that our house is not under an imminent threat of catching fire (although we are ready to evacuate if the order to do so comes down). Also, neither of us has an underlying condition that would make the situation worse. We have hobbies and learning activities that keep us busy and can be performed indoors. We have lots of friends and family members who we can talk to and do FaceTime with. There are Zoom calls to participate in.
Most of all, we are grateful that we have each other, unlike single folks in our neighborhood who admit that they are going stir crazy.
The fires will be extinguished. The heat wave will pass (it almost has), and Covid will eventually be managed. We will be grateful for having passed this test with relatively minor discomfort