Sunday, February 25, 2024

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Ah, Sweet Social Distancing

Managing Editor Emeritus Al Campbell

By Al Campbell

There’s a new term that quickly matured since this awful COVID-19 nightmare invaded everyone’s world, it’s social distancing. It has a nice ring to it. It’s politically correct; doesn’t offend anyone (since we can’t have that anymore); it’s not brash, just ordinary, plain vanilla social distancing. I like it.
Being ignorant of what social distancing was for 70 years, I long enjoyed it without knowing its proper name. Maybe that’s why I love bicycle riding. Riding is social distancing at its finest. Get out on the road, or bike path, and zip along without regard to the ills of this old world. Please, if you’re walking and hear a bike bell or horn, move over, something is coming from behind.
I look up at the sky, feel the fresh wind in my face, breathe deeply and just, well, social distance everything.
Walkers who want to social distance themselves from the world have plenty of places to tread in Cape May County.
There are miles of beaches, (free this time of year everywhere). For those who don’t want to get their feet sandy, yet who want to breathe in fresh salt air to kill the vile contagion of the world, there are boardwalks or promenades aplenty. Put on a sweater and coat, wear a windproof hat or cap and social distance to the heart’s content.
For explorer types who prefer state parks to do their social distancing, New Jersey’s state parks and forests are “OPEN,” proclaimed the Division of Parks and Forestry in a March 17 release. The document stated the parks will be open to the public for hiking and other passive recreation.
For those new to the area, there is Belleplain State Forest in the county’s northwest section, Cape May Point State Park at the state’s southern tip, and the Corson’s Inlet State Park for those closer to Ocean City and Strathmere.
Clean and fresh as the air might be, “to protect public health and safety due to the spread of COVID-19, the State Park Service has closed all park facilities (restrooms, offices, nature centers, historic buildings), canceled all events, and canceled all upcoming camping reservations through Thursday, April 30.” 
So, if nature calls, as nature does at times when one is hiking or biking, it might be best to do some “extreme” social distancing and take care of business out of sight. Watch for skunks, other pesky critters and poison ivy.
The Cape May County Park system offers ample places to do some social distancing.
In the Park North, in Marmora, there is no better place to distance oneself from the world, since it doesn’t experience the masses that County Park central does in Swainton. Solitude reigns supreme there, and, if you are capable and musically gifted, it would be an excellent place to compose a new symphony. Perhaps, it could be entitled “The Social Distancing Symphony in D Major.”
With the musical talent in South Jersey, I’m sure it could be wonderfully performed by the Bay Atlantic Symphony.
Enjoy this virtual bit of social distancing right now: think of the deep mellow sounds of the cello as the work commences, welcoming the visitor into County Park North. Then flutes take the twitter of birds. The oboes make more sounds of waterfowl, and the violins bring in the fresh breeze from the north. Ah, social distancing at its finest, all while sitting by the pond there, watching clouds float overhead.
Can this be the same world that has lost its mind? That’s gone mad with fright over a weird-shaped virus that somehow hatched in China and spread around the globe as if by the wind?
Yes, it certainly is, but then there is this thing called social distancing, and it’s supposed to shield us frail humans from that killer among us.
While we await a young composer who’ll put the musical notes to paper for that new symphony, maybe we ought to just sing Gene Autry’s “Don’t Fence Me In.”
Oh, how sweet are these verses:
“Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in.”
Like most cowboys and cowgirls, Autry knew about social distancing before it became fashionable.
Now, get on outta here. Do some social distancing.

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