My usual route with Jack takes me past a neighborhood daycare center and preschool. This morning I fell in behind a mom about to drop off two young daughters. Mom was holding the hand of one girl who was, I am guessing, three years old. The other daughter, about a year younger than her sister, trailed behind by herself. As they approached fresh ice on the sidewalk, the mom slowed her pace, but did not turn around to alert the second daughter of the hazard. It turns out a warning was not needed. The little girl did not bother to take her hands out of her coat pockets, but as she approached the ice, she changed her gait from a clumsy toddler stride to a more controlled sliding of her feet. I have canned goods in my pantry older than that little girl, but she already knew how to handle icy sidewalks. At the very least, she understood winter better than elected officials in Texas. 

We have survived the polar vortex. Fresh ice on the sidewalks only comes with melted snow. Nighttime temperatures still dip below freezing, but the afternoons reach into the 40s. Last week I received my first coronavirus shot, and in two days I will drive to O’Hare to pick up my wife after six months in Asia. Toss in some sane politics on the national level, and how can I not feel like we’ve turned a page? 

Last fall I voted early at City Hall and was impressed at how smoothly the polls were set up. This past Wednesday I felt the same way about the huge room where the coronavirus shots were being administered. There were staff members at every juncture explaining what to do and where to go. There were rovers watching for confused people. There were volunteers ready with wheelchairs for people who needed them. The nurse who gave me my shot was as cheerful as could be, and she made sure I had my second appointment before I left her small cubicle. The only downside was the realization that I must be as old as the rest of the codgers who were standing in line for their inoculations. For all the bellyaching about problems with distributing the vaccine, my experience was effortless. First, I received an email from my healthcare provider stating that I was now eligible for my shot and that doses were available. Second, I made an appointment for 10:50 on a Wednesday morning, arrived ten minutes early, and was back at my car by 11am. 

After writing that my experience with the vaccine went well, I checked to see whether La Crosse was distributing its allotment equitably. La Crosse County scores “Very Low” in all five categories of concern (historical undervaccination, socioeconomic barriers, low health care resources, poor health care access, and irregular medical care). Low is good; high is bad. Anyone interested in their county’s score can go to

If this positive trend continues, I’ll be on my bicycle by the end of the week and in my canoe by the end of the month. 

Steven Simpson