Our Pandemic Tent

As the Delta Variant has made its way into our everyday vocabulary, we have reassessed our willingness and ability to dine with anyone outside of our bubble, and frankly, even within our bubble. Whidbey Island lies in the Puget Sound, very much a garden community of greater Seattle, and so our rainy season begins in late September and continues with a few precious sun breaks until May. Since the possibilities of meeting with anyone inside our homes, even with windows and doors wide open, have been shrinking by the day, we made it our business this week to tent our back deck for continued social interactions. Even then, there are those among our group who just think meeting at all, even outdoors and masked with two vaccines, is too risky, and we respect their decision. Still, for others of us, having dinner al fresco under the tarp with the wind whipping through our clothes and stealing our cloth napkins is preferable to not meeting at all.

We chose a cheerful color for our tent, an orangey yellow, so that under the tarp there is a glow that mimics an afternoon sunset. We had our brilliant friend Dale Fuentes, the same brilliant friend who built our little library (haven’t I done a post on that yet? I will!) to match our house, come over and figure out how to do this. It’s a 10’x16′ tarp, both sun and waterproof, and attaching it in such a way that it won’t shred in the wind and won’t dump water on us from the rain was quite a logistical feat. Dale used his maritime expertise with sails to devise his plan. Eventually, we realized that using the large Costco umbrella as a center pole, kind of like the circus big top, would give us the angles we’d need. Then he added posts and hardware and clips, and got the tension just right.

We’ve been eating under our new tent ourselves, and are having coffee and reading the paper under it even in the rain, and enjoying the great outdoors. Heaven only knows how long this will hold up without shredding, but we can, we’ve rationalized, always buy another tarp, which is fairly inexpensive, as long as the hardware is in place. Was it worth the cost of the hardware, the time, and the effort? We believe so. After all, isolation is an existential issue for human beings that can bring on mental health and social problems if not dealt with effectively, and this gives us a way to enjoy the company of others, even another couple, without spreading Covid. Worth it!

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