Our big adventures lately have been with the COVID vaccination programs here and there in Sonoma County. After a monthlong hassle with crazy websites and bad information, we, who are well inside the age group being served, went to Santa Rosa and were turned down for not having clicked on a button that didn’t seem to be on the website in play.

Then Arline got an appointment in Cotati for substitute school teachers, but they canceled it a day ahead of time. At least we didn’t have to drive there in the rain.

I was checking websites every hour and being told there were no appointments, but I got phone calls from the same agencies whose websites I was Googling telling me appointments were available. One actually said appointments were by invitation only, as if I was trying to get into a private club.

But the Russian River Health Center came to the rescue, and we got our first shot in the nearby Guerneville School. It feels like a stirring victory, a crowning achievement, a triumph of determined will over the obstacles of a benighted world. Actually we wouldn’t have heard about the local vaccinations except for a chance conversation with someone over the phone.

Bob Jones column photo

Bob Jones

Then we learned that people had gotten vaccinated the week before at the same place. It was a well-kept secret to many of us, which seems strange for these parts, even though our River communities are famous for their rumor mills, and secrets are hard to keep around here.

In a twisted way, it’s funny that the vaccinations were so hush hush, whereas bad information about them was everywhere. Maybe there’s a basic principle here: the stuff you want to keep secret gets out, and the stuff you want to get out stays secret. It’s probably a law of nature that hasn’t been thoroughly understood and perhaps never will be.

Others of the older lot who got their first shot, that is to say our friends, are talking about being able to get together soon. Shared finger food, wine, and, yes, hugs are high on the list for these folks. “Oh what a joy that will be,” one of them said.

Strange to say, this sort of startled me. I find myself less than eager for hubbub and chit-chat and the like. After a year of quiet cloistering, I wonder if I’m ready to get back to what people call “normal.”

I’ve thought of myself as a more or less an outgoing person all my life, but it seems I’ve become accustomed to a quieter way of being whoever I am. On balance, I’ve been happy in our little cloister of two during this year of exile from normalcy. The apple trees blossomed and bore fruit. The deer came scampering through our weedy hillside lot. Those ridiculous feral turkeys receded into the woods and leave us alone for the time being. My cloister companion and I have gotten along nicely for the most part. Why would I want things to be different?      

Then there’s this: Looking out upon the spinning world, it’s pretty clear the good old U.S. of A has done a lousy job of handling this pandemic. A lot of the spread arises from poor leadership, but just as much arises from a particularly bad spate of down home American cussedness when it comes to pitching in for the good of all. Hundreds of thousands die, and still there’s a lot of masklessness among us. That one more infection is a danger to all of us seems not to register. There’s too much in the present world I don’t understand, too much that seems ridiculous or abhorrent to me. I’m not sure I want to deal with it.

Nope, I’m not anxious to get out there and test these promising vaccinations against that good old American cussedness or the threats on every side I can’t keep up with. I’m plenty happy here at home, thank you. I’ll stick close to what I know, if you don‘t mind.

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