Dating during a pandemic is weird, but not impossible! For those of you who are curious, the few dating sites I have used now offer video chat options to promote online connections. The sites also offer cautions and tips for how to make getting to know someone work safely when it’s no longer possible to meet up for drinks. I am a cautious dater and have relished the opportunity to do it my way: let’s chat a lot online until I am comfortable meeting you in person. Many people need an in-person connection and don’t value emails or texts like I do. They push for an in-person meeting right away, but now I say “Too bad for you, there’s a pandemic, please send me an email.” ha ha! I win!
Once I am comfortable, of course I want to meet in person, because there is simply no way to know what the chemistry will be without that step. It’s still possible to safely meet in person during a pandemic when you live where I do, with vast open spaces very easy to access. Recently I suggested to a man that we meet for a hike. He suggested Forest Park – at 5,156 acres (2,086 ha) and 70 miles (113 km) of trails, it’s an excellent place to keep six feet apart.
We met at a trailhead he knew. It was easy for me to find and off we went, to wander through the forest and blunder through the awkwardness of meeting a total stranger, one on one, in a sort of high stakes job application interview. “How many siblings? Parents still alive? Favourite restaurant? Do you like your job?” Thank goodness for Forest Park, which holds enough lovely distractions that it made learning about a new person fun.
There were a surprising number of people on the trail, but I have heard about this in local news. The pandemic has been pushing fitness-minded people to our many trails because the gyms are closed. Many of them step into the underbrush and turn their backs as we passed – a good solution to worrying about being too close. Some were wearing masks. I chose not to out on the trail. I am getting used to masks and not feeling so much anymore like I’m on the brink of suffocation when I wear them, but I’m not interested in wearing a mask while I’m gasping for breath due to a steep hike. Turning our backs, reducing our greetings to a calm “Hi” or no greeting at all, while pressing as far away from each other as we can get on the trail, is what I’m going with.
This time of year the wildflowers are blooming. On our next hike, we chose a trail in a different part of Forest Park. It was teeming with fields of flowers and so many bright colours! I stopped practically every 8 minutes, just to take another photo. Also, the trail was unbelievably steep and I may have used photography as a way to catch my breath.
As you can see, part of the trail was along a maintenance route for the power lines. The area beneath the power lines is kept clear of forest, so there were big fields free to whatever plant species wanted to move in. That is where I found the majority of the flowers.
It was time for new scenery and my next hike was at Trojan Park, near my town of Rainier. It’s a lovely little park that is the former site of a nuclear plant. The ponds were originally cooling ponds to serve the operation of the power plant. Now they don’t help power our homes, but they do help power our hearts, minds, and spirits.