The pandemic shines new light on what really matters

An approaching storm at Lakeside, OH. Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

My wife and I could hardly wait for our Ohio vacation to arrive. It wasn’t so much the destination as it was the people we would see.

After 50 years of marriage, relationships are everything to us. With all of the interruptions caused by the pandemic restrictions and safety measures, the sheer desire to see friends and family members drew us back to our home state.

Sure, we wanted to visit our old rural Ohio stomping grounds. Before that, though, would come a much anticipated week at our beloved Lakeside, Ohio. It’s the Buckeye State’s most beautiful mile.

We have…


A dreamy mid-summer scene in Ohio’s Amish country. Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

How do you mid-summer dream? It’s something we all do but may not recognize it as such. I’m not necessarily channeling Shakespeare’s classic comedy either.

Mid-July is the time of year when we find ourselves drowsing. We can thank the month’s long days of heat and humidity for that. I’m not complaining, mind you.

Summer’s lush and contrasting colors are at their peak before August’s dog days wither and fade them. There is no better time than the present to commune with the out-of-doors. It is summer, after all.

It’s a dreamy time of year. Nature gives us plenty of…


Sodus Point Lighthouse, Sodus Point, NY. Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

My wife and I had waited two years for these hugs. When we finally embraced our son and his wife, all seemed right with the world again.

We knew we were not alone. Necessary health restrictions continue to keep millions of global people apart.

So, we felt fortunate to travel from central Virginia to upstate New York finally. The scenery was magnificent. The traffic not so much.

The road to Rochester, New York, was a long and winding one. With the heatwave, it was a hot one, too.

Though the city is due north of our home in the Shenandoah…


It’s July already!

Summertime in Ohio’s Amish country. Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

Why does summertime always seem to go so fast, especially for us retired folks?

Once Memorial Day passes and school dismisses, it’s on to summertime fun. With the warmer, more pleasant, consistent weather and longer daylight hours, we fill our days with the most enjoyable activities we can.

That’s easy for school children and retirees like me to do. We have all the time we need to enjoy each moment of each day if we so choose. However, most people who still work have to squeeze in as much outdoor time as possible.

Home improvement projects, gardening, lawnmowing, fishing, hiking…


Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

I had waited a long time to take a picture like this. However, I got so wrapped up at the moment that I left my camera at home. So my smartphone camera had to suffice.

There we all were — 40 gray-headed old souls who finally, after more than a year of pandemic restrictions, gathered together to eat, laugh and share. I had to capture the moment.

The group was our faith formation or Sunday school class. We had only met a couple of times via Zoom since March 2020. …


My father giving a presentation to retirement home residents a few months before he died. Photo by author.

I don’t need a designated day to remind me of my late father. I see him in many of my machinations and manners. I walk, talk, and too often behave much as he did. I’m still working on that.

Understand me, though, that I loved my father unconditionally. It just took me too long to realize that I spent too much of my adolescent and young adult life trying to earn his affection when affection wasn’t his thing. I finally realized that Dad was already sharing his love in how he lived his life.

Dad had many interests. In his…


I thought retirement was going to be peaceful and calm. I was dreaming.

Take two recent consecutive days, for instance. My wife and I could have gotten ulcers from our on-again, off-again schedules. But, instead, we merely went with the flow as we have learned to do.

This particular Tuesday was packed. We skipped our morning Zoom yoga session in favor of hosting my wife’s first cousin and his wife for breakfast before they headed back to Ohio. Of course, my hospitable spouse did her usual over-the-top hosting.

We looked forward to this long-awaited in-person visit, their first in two…


We have all been waiting to exhale, especially this year, once June arrived. We had that same perspective a year ago, but we were wrong.

Last year the estimation was that summer’s warmth would lessen the spread of the coronavirus. Just the opposite happened. People gathered, and the virus spread.

This June appears to be different. The fact that nearly two-thirds of American adults have received at least one vaccination makes it so. That has resulted in the waning of the virus here in the U.S. However, other countries continue to struggle as new variants emerge, spread, sicken, and kill.


A Virginia resident prepares his Memorial Day decorations.

Memorial Day is for remembering. As a septuagenarian, the bulk of my life is behind me. Memories fill my daily life, but especially so on this solemn weekend.

In the years between ages 21 and 51, I started my career as a public school educator. I met and married my energetic and valiant wife. Our daughter and son were born. I simultaneously served 27 years as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.

I consider those the best years of my life. That is true, not because of anything I did, but because of the people I met and interacted…


The bulletin board in the coffee shop caught my attention. I moved closer to read its contents.

I quickly discovered that this billboard that you often see in mom-and-pop establishments was no ordinary advertising venue. The notes posted on it were all different but had a common theme.

Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

This public service space was a pay-it-forward board. Pay-it-forward is when a person pays for something for someone else, usually anonymously. Paying it forward can be contagious. Doing so often leads to others returning the favor for future customers.

The examples pinned to the café corkboard were self-explanatory.

“For a parent,” read…

Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, photographer, lover of nature. I write about what I encounter along life's wild and wonderful way. I blog at https://brucestambaugh.com/.

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