I hope you are safe, healthy and mentally upbeat.
I write a beer column, but beer is a meandering, peripheral topic this week. Of course beer is an important part of my life, but it’s more of a supporting character today. My weekly sensory tastings down at the brewery are the majority of the beer-drinking right now along with driveway beers — or also known as 6-foot beers with close friends.
This week, I’m thinking hopeful thoughts as many parts of our Minnesota society are slowly and cautiously opening back up. I’m a fan of being careful and thoughtful as we soldier on. I often tell friends that if I did not have the anxiety of financial ruin with my small business, I’m actually really happy being quarantined with my family. When are we ever again going to spend time like this with our loved ones? I really cherish it, but not all agree with the love of togetherness at our house.
I have a senior in high school and a senior in college living at home and distance learning via their computers. Very weird. They’re both champing at the bit. I feel bad for the kids. It’s tough to lose these wonderful experiences like graduation, prom and senior skip day, and numerous rites of passages at college, but again, we have to; there’s no choice.
As well as loving being with family, I love cabins and puppies. This past Saturday being part of Memorial Day weekend, we headed to a friend’s cabin.
My other creature (literally) comfort is puppies; everyone loves them despite the massive amount of work they require. We got one, but only because my daughter and I tirelessly hounded (again, literally) our less-enthusiastic family (son and wife) until they got on board with #pandemicpup. He’s a good pup and has brought immeasurable joy (mostly!), which is great for mental health, not to mention a good increase in exercise during our daily walks.
Last weekend, we were invited by great friends to go to their cabin, and we were encouraged to bring the young puppy. It was great to get out for a drive and enjoy some cabin time with plenty of space for social distancing. We enjoyed some good local beers (beer reference). We watched our puppy learn to swim and retrieve by launching himself off the dock into the lake about 100 times. He was out for the rest of the night. We grilled and ate freshly caught fish. We played cards (lots of hand sanitizer) as well. It was all the fun and time-honored Minnesota Memorial Day weekend stuff.
As we discussed the state of the quarantine, I mentioned the happiness of being with loved ones. My wonderful host agreed, but blurted: “But my husband talks so much!” My wife agreed and added: “I just want some time alone in the house.” We husbands looked at each other in utter disbelief — or at least pretended to.
I do realize that living in a small house with four full-size people and a dog makes it really hard to find some solitary recharge time for many of us. But I also worry about folks who are alone. I’m going to remember to reach out to friends and family who may just need some of my “over-communication” as my dear wife calls it. According to her, as I go about my work around the house and talk about it (apparently incessantly) and watch shows like "The Last Dance" and try to get everybody to weigh in, all of them would like me to just stop taking. I do tend to think out loud. I’m trying to ease up, trying to remember that some folks want quiet time, walks, introspection. Yes, I’m being asked to shut up, and as a pandemic miracle, I’m working hard on it. I give myself a C+ at this point.
To my great friends who invited me out to their cabin, I owe thanks for a relaxing day in the woods and good perspective. And to my wife and kids, too. I’m a lucky, happy pandemic husband and dad. But their perspective opens my eyes to the spectrum of all people living in this pandemic. I do believe better days will arrive soon. I hope my kids can return to campus and my wife can get some time at home with peace and solitude. But until then, they’re stuck with me. And we all love each other, so that’s good. Grateful.
Please email me with questions, comments, your own quarantine stories .
Stay positive, Dave
Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Contact him at email@example.com.