Charles Owens mug

Charles Owens

Although we are a good two weeks removed from Groundhog Day, the repetition of our daily grind would seemingly suggest that we are repeating the same day in the life of a pandemic during our so-called “dark winter.”

It’s still winter. It’s still cold (and snowing) outside. And more snow and ice is apparently on the way before the week’s end. One good thing is that the days are now getting just a little bit longer with each passing hour. Still, we won’t spring forward this year until March 14, according to the calendar sitting on my desk.

That means President Joe Biden’s “dark winter” will linger on a little bit longer this year.

I guess that is par for the course with how things have been going lately.

The now almost year-long pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, both physically and mentally.

Virus restrictions, and mask mandates, are still the order of the day, although local virus numbers continue to decrease. Active coronavirus cases in hard-hit Mercer County were down to a new low of 389 on Tuesday. That’s good considering that we had as many as 1,700 active virus cases in Mercer back in January.

I think just about everyone out there is hopeful that this will all be over with later this year.

Of course, it’s basically a race against time to get enough people vaccinated before all of those new virus variants out there gain widespread traction. The so-called United Kingdom mutation is now in nearly two dozen states, and health officials are warning it could become the dominant virus strain by March.

So far, no new virus variants have been reported in the deep south coalfield counties. Let’s hope it stays that way.

If so, maybe things will actually get back to normal this spring. Yes, I can see it now. Fairs and festivals and packed stadiums at Bowen Field and Hunnicutt stadium. Maybe even hugs and handshakes by June. And shopping without masks by July?

Hey, it’s OK to dream, isn’t it?

But for now, it’s another cold February morning. Both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day are now in the rear-view mirror, and winter is approaching its final stretch. Still, another potential storm is looming over the region. A winter storm watch for snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain is now in effect for our entire two-state region.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all of the snow. I’m ready for tulips, chirping birds and abundant sunshine.

In year’s past, the cold winter months would at least be a time for quality television. Not anymore, of course. Television is still a wasteland of repeats and reality shows with nothing new that is really worthy of watching. Oh, and just about any new show that you can find on television is more about preaching politics than entertaining.

Movie theaters are still, more or less, closed. Although I did see some cars parked outside of the local theater this past weekend. Apparently they are playing movies again.

Maybe there will be a high-profile movie to see on the big screen later this year.

But for now, it’s still February. It is still cold outside. And I’m still writing about COVID. 

Oh, and it is likely that I will be shoveling snow once again later this week.

I’ve already lost track of how many mornings I’ve spent shoveling snow so far this winter.

At one point, I was starting to think that someone important lived near me. Because for a while — at least for a few weeks back in December and January — the snow plow driver actually made an appearance each morning along our secondary road. But like all good things that didn’t last for long.

Now another potential winter storm is looming. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Better days are ahead, I keep telling myself. And spring, too.

That’s got to count for something — as long as Biden doesn’t start calling it the “dark spring.”

— Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at Follow him @BDTOwens

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