THE MARSHALL PLAN: A welcome return of baseball

Culpeper Times columnist Marshall Conner

Sometimes the best realizations flash before our eyes in little moments that break through the general malaise that we all have suffered through for a year. Let us be real, this year felt like an unfolding dystopian novel developed into a film directed by David Lynch—it continues to be that twisted.

Everyone is irritated, tilted, butt-hurt and eager to breakout of this world-wide rut.

Last Sunday afternoon, I decided to take my young daughter fishing. You know that wholesome fatherly activity that evokes mental images of Andy Griffith and Opie walking to the pond with a couple cane poles. The trouble with that mental picture is that my daughter and I have a twisted sense of humor.

The place she likes to fish is oddly public for a secret spot-yet we always manage to catch fish there. Our spot is essentially a deep hole carved into a turn in a creek. It also happens to be next to a wooden bridge where countless joggers, dog walkers and romance-minded teenagers pass by in an endless conga line into a county park. Do not worry Culpeper friends… this park is in Stafford County.

The previously mentioned conga line provides nearly as much entertainment as the fish we catch.

Most walkers stop to share their insights, wit, and conspiracy theories in the vicinity of my back cast.

Kids scream, dogs bark, couples toss pebbles to commemorate their love, dads crack corny jokes and oddballs say weird things about aliens, politics, and other riveting subjects. Despite this chatter we still love this spot. It is humanity on parade. People watching is a sport for us.

“Hey dad, look at those herring chasing each other in circles,” my young daughter says. I use this as a teaching moment. “They are like teenagers on prom night or college students on spring break, they only care about dancing with each other,” I remark.

With each passing comment we smile because we realize that talking to people outside our home and work is a positive development. We all want to be social again…right? We are thankful that the vaccines appear to be working and the COVID cases seem to be falling. Soon it will be time to address the looming litany of other problems and it is a big nasty list. It resembles the six-paragraph text your wife sends when you are nearly finished grocery shopping.

Oddly, I thought about Andy Griffith and Mayberry again. I pondered how COVID-19 came into our lovely towns like Ernest T. Bass, that devilish mountain man with a penchant for rock throwing. He was chaos. His insane actions and laughter did not make sense and it freaked people out. Bass was COVID—personified.

Have you noticed that people are chattier than a college girl after three shots recently? We need to be kind and sympathetic as we all emerge like cicadas. Those beady reddened eyes, our fingers sore from criticizing each other on social media all require a more positive transformation.

Here is a nugget of fisherman wisdom: It is important to round up when estimating a fish’s weight. Round downwards when you estimate your own weight—it just works better this way.

Let us awaken in the warm sun and sing together in unison after this long winter.

Let the herring schools and cicadas show us how to party.

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