Columns

Codger’s column: Silly season

Codger has called this time of year the “silly season” to convey the final frantic efforts to make more money or whoopee before Labor Day allows the dogs back on the beach.

Cur II has been counting off the no-dog days, but Codger wonders if the silliness will actually stop this year. He thinks something in the cosmic cycle may have snapped, loosing unpredictable changes. Will the Island’s tourists, second homeowners, all-year rounders, COVID refugees, locals, workers, real estate agents, slip back into a semblance of their pre-plague lives?

That would mean something like “normal,” if only Codger could remember what that was.

Two years ago, Codger was cranking up for hip replacement surgery, his second private infrastructure rearrangement of 2019, and he was reading a terrifying book, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” by David Wallace-Wells, about the coming point of no-return in the climate change crisis.

Right now, Codger is cranking up for a third personal road repair and reading a terrifying United Nations report that global warming will be a constant for the next 30 years and only immediate and drastic action — by all countries — can stop the temperature rise by 2050.

Codger wonders if that drastic action would include the disappearance of those big fat gas-guzzling boats bobbing beyond the massage tables of Sunset Beach, and Shelter Islanders turning off their air conditioners, quitting the eating of meat and starting taking cold showers? No one can hear Codger through his deviant Delta double mask. 

Then again, two years ago, during a family vacation on the Oregon Coast, Crone spotted one lonely sea star clinging to the rocks of a beloved cove. It was an omen that troubled her until three weeks ago when, finally back to Oregon, she spotted dozens of sea stars in overlapping splendor clinging to the rocks. There was hope!

There’s always hope. Those who deny hope want people to give up, to guzzle gas, ditch their masks, vote for Zeldin, concede to the powers-that-want-to-be. Dumping Cuomo was a good sign, but the best one lately that buoyed Codger was Lisa Shaw’s rousing musical, “Hill of Beans.”

All those Islanders coming together to create something fresh and joyous was inspirational. Thanks to the Senior Citizens Foundation, 22 Golden Oldies got free tickets and were transported to the Historical Society on the wonderful new bus. Good work!

In celebration, Codger has not had meat or a drink since, although both would have been comforting while waiting for Hurricane Henri.

With Henri on their minds, Codger, Crone and Cur II were able to push the COVID surge, fentanyl-laced cocaine deaths and the Afghanistan cataclysm to the back of their minds. On Saturday morning, as Henri became an official hurricane with a direct hit on the Island possible, there was a scramble for ice, evaporated milk, batteries, cash, and whatever appeared on the hurricane to-do lists. Many of the other IGA shoppers were maskless, buying beer, chips and chopped chuck for Judgment Day parties.

As he and Crone moved plants and outdoor furniture out of the storm’s way, Codger was thinking about how much of one’s life is spent in dread, waiting for a life-changing disaster, from a diagnosis to an ill wind.

Forty-odd years ago, he and his family were evacuated from a Wellfleet, Mass. rental cabin to a church basement, just ahead of a monstrous storm. Codger remembers a worrisome night. How could he protect his wife and kids from the end of the world? Those kids, Cat and Crunch, on last Saturday’s weekly family Zoom, remembered a wonderful night, best of the vacation, they said, staying up playing with other young refugees as the predicted hurricane skittered off to sea.

Codger almost felt sorry for Henri as it “weakened,” was “downgraded” and finally lost its sense of direction. Poor Henri was only human, after all.

But he will be followed by other powerful currents eager to make landfall and wreak havoc, some natural, some personal, some political. There’s always the danger after an Henri peters out to discount the next one, forgo the precautions, check out the symptoms, skip the vote.

The so-called “bad batch” of cocaine in Greenport was not a one-off. Street drugs have been killing people all Codger’s life. Maybe it’s time to decriminalize, tax and medically regulate all drugs, beyond marijuana. And do a better job than the government has in letting the Sackler family manage opioids.

Was Vietnam really too long ago not to figure out how Afghanistan had to end up? Surely the first couple of waves of COVID weren’t too long ago to figure out that the wearing of masks at least in the IGA and the post office are the least we can do to keep the next ill wind offshore.