Mad for road — the beginning of the new beginning

And so here it is, a wonderful glimpse of the appetising uplands to which we looked forlornly for so long since we put up the shutters in mid-March.

Around the country, the sports pitches are once again filled with the sweat-scented sounds of exertion, the beans in the coffee machines of cafes are awakened from their slumber as people seek a little bit of the old normal to ease themselves into the new normal.

Next Monday sees another boost to our collective morale as the re-opening of the hospitality industry takes away some of the feeling of restriction. Up to now, when it was possible to escape for five kilometres, it was to a land barren and deprived of places to hang out.

For weeks and weeks at the beginning, this words in this column said to hang on, stay in and now a vast horizon looms ahead of us, but it will only remain ours as long as we behave ourselves and act responsibly under the new guidelines.

To say it has been a strange year is an understatement, but in our minds it feels much later in the year than it actually is. I suppose because we had written so much of it off so early, we were transposing ourselves to late summer and autumn, when in actual fact, we are still just at the point where the primary schools will be closing for their summer holidays.

Today and tomorrow, the school bells will ring out around the city and county at lunchtime to signify another chapter ending in the lives of our schoolchildren who have endured so much this year.

At lunchtime, the soft thud of schoolbags hitting the back press in the utility room will sound out and our children will have a summer to look forward to. And they still can.

The opening up of the pitches and sportsgrounds and playgrounds (albeit with the need for social distancing and enhanced hygiene ) has meant that the utter bleakness that they faced back in March has now ended.

Now, they are able to embrace a semblance of a summer holiday without Zoom classes and enforced separation from their friends.

How wonderful it has been too to see so many children cycling around. It brought back memories of my own teens when we’d spend summers cycling to the lake or around town.

If only a fifth of the children who have taken to cycling keep it up, it will have been a wonderful benefit. If our local representatives have a fifth of the intuition we credit them with, they too will ensure that cycling and walking is made safer for all.

And so to ourselves. What have we learned from the lockdown period? How soon are we going to allow ourselves to regress into that which we were before. Are we going to keep up the exercise, to appreciate more the benefit of family time, albeit in a less restricted setting?

The summer of 2020 is a time when so many of us will have learned so much about ourselves, our families, our friends, our work and our place in society. How beneficial it would be if we were to take this information and to put it to good use so that nature’s pause has not been to waste.

There are so many of us who have lost our jobs, our businesses and all which that entails. Remember to try to support each other in the months ahead. If you hear of a possible start somewhere, let your friend or neighbour know. Keep your business in your community too, so that more people will be able to work closer to their homes, enabling them to have a better work/life balance.

The grimness of late autumn and winter will be alleviated somewhat by the late staging of the football, hurling and camogie championships; cultural events which were postponed will be held under new conditions, school and colleges will introduce a new sort of learning. The rites of passage of second and third level altered beyond recognition.

But these are small prices to pay. Well done to everyone for getting us this far. Our behaviour, our personal responsibility will dictate how the months ahead will unfold.

Use your ability to decide wisely.


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