It’s been an interesting week. New terms have been added to everyday life…social distancing, elbow bump and flattening the curve. All Floridians and much of the United States and world have been forced into seclusion with little or no social outlet. At this writing Broward County, where I now live, has a non-essential shut down order in place for businesses and the beaches are closed. That one hit me hard.
Five years ago I was attacked by another invisible foe, cancer. I went from being the most healthy person to the most unhealthy in a matter of days. I nearly died in the hospital, not once, but twice and then lost my business and livelihood. After a year of chemo I qualified for a stem cell transplant and that slowly but surely brought me back from the brink. I was forced to practice ‘social distancing’ before it was a thing, because I was left with a severely suppressed immune system. No hugs, no handshakes and obsessively washing my hands. Four years later I’m doing pretty well with certain limitations.
I’m a veteran hand washer. Yep, I learned the importance of it when my cancer journey began. It’s such a simple step that most people just don’t do. I also avoided handshakes and hugs. That’s pretty hard to do in a world filled with handshakers and huggers. I bet that’s going to change after this pandemic comes to an end.
And it will end, hopefully sooner rather than later.
I’m beginning to dream about what I’m going to do when this mess is over. It’s very similar to the way I dreamed of rejoining the real world after my stem cell replacement. The recovery process is very dangerous and as one of my doctors pointed out, you must be very careful and do just what we tell you to do. There will be no gardening.
What? Are you serious? I love gardening almost as much as fishing and at the time it was all I really had left to do. My doctor put it like this, “If you get so much as a pin prick in a finger from a thorn you’ll most likely lose your finger to infection. But it won’t stop there,” he said. “You’ll then mostly likely lose your hand, then your arm, then a lung and then you’ll die.” Gardening was out. I became the boy in the bubble.
The dreams were a big part of my getting through the next year of isolation and this is what I want to pass along to all those that are hiding out or in quarantine. Dream small. Yes, that’s right, small. I found that the little things were what I missed the most. This pandemic has made me long for walking on the now closed beaches. I’d love to wet a line and fish my favorite park creeks and ponds. I miss stopping for a bite to eat at beachside restaurants and finding toilet paper at the grocery store.
For the time being do your best to keep a positive attitude. I’ve started avoiding television except to watch movies. I’ve narrowed that down to classics and anything that isn’t end-of-world themed. I’m also reading more. There are still a ton of mystery novels I need to catch up on.
For the fishing folks…sort out those tackle boxes that have been needing attention for far too long. Self-service your rods and reels with a little T.L.C. Tie flies and make plans to hit those favorite spots once this nonsense ends. Now is the perfect time to get ready for summer fishing.
Take care and hang in there. Stop hoarding toilet paper and remember, wash your hands.
Captain Rob Modys is a lifetime Florida outdoorsman and retired spin & fly fishing guide. He is past president and board chairman of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and serves on the board of the Florida Guides Association.
The Footprints in the Sand column will be on hiatus until the Sand Paper Print Edition returns.