Doctor, I think I’ve had a breakthrough.
I’ve actually taken two summer vacations of nearly a week long.
I’ve always been busy in the summer, working overseas at major events or schlepping off to the inane din of ball parks. My wife used to say, why don’t you be smart like Dave Anderson and take a whole month off and relax? (For that matter, editors and readers always asked why I couldn’t be more like Dave Anderson.)
Anyway, I thought I’d try it.
The first vacation to Cape Cod was a little scary because I kept getting reports of marauding sharks and infectious sea lions and wandering bears and skittish foxes.
The second vacation began in western Massachusetts, where I did things like swim in a lake and watch ducks and kayakers glide past, and hang out with friends in a delightful home.
Sometimes we watched the clouds and the sky and the hills. Sometimes we talked about the Yankees or politics or thwarted hoop dreams.
Then my wife and I drove to central New York to visit my kid brother and his wife who are on the faculty at Colgate and live out in the country in an 1842 stone house. While the women went to an all-day antique fair in town, my brother and I picked vegetables in his garden and watched the farmer’s cows on the other side of the fence.
But the highlight of upstate was having time for two trips to Cooperstown, for the Glimmerglass Festival – a total revelation. I had always thought of it as an outdoor summery diversion, but in fact it is an indoor auditorium used only a few months a year with a very high level of performance and staging.
We sat in the third row for an old French opera, Armide, with a strong cast including a charming ballet corps, and on Monday we came back for Lost in the Stars, the pre-Mandela South African story of a tragedy striking black and white families.
From the third row, we were especially captivated by the bass, Eric Owens, and the tenor, Sean Panikker, two Pennsylvanians on their way up. After the performance, the principals came out in street clothes and answered questions from the audience.
Afterward, the four of us went out for home-made ice cream and zucchini bread on Route 20, and talked about making this excursion to Glimmerglass an annual event.
Then my wife and I drove back toward the city under a gathering storm, seeing more sky than we ever can around New York.
I know I am not saying anything profound here, Doctor, but I think I have proven the point that I can take a week away from cities, from work, and not go nuts.
Of course, now I am back in high gear – drawn back by the Lance Armstrong saga, getting ready for a few cameo gigs at the Open tennis in the next two weeks. Deadlines. Assignments. Anxiety. The dreaded R-word is taking its own well-deserved vacation. Still, this is progress, isn’t it, Doctor?
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.
"People have said to me, ‘You’re fully vaccinated. Why are you being so careful?’” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m still in the camp of I don’t want to get Covid. I don’t want to get a breakthrough infection.”
---Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2021.