The coronavirus is a great concern to many of us. Because I have ALS, the virus could be deadly for me, so my wife Linda and I have tried to stay safe by staying in the house the last few weeks.

Sadly, I’ve had to cancel all my visitors. I really enjoy those visits, but right now they’re just too dangerous. We also haven’t been able to get out to events, although many have been canceled. Fortunately, our church has set up through Zoom a way for all of us to stay in touch.

Very sad for me was the cancellation of our Saturday morning community breakfasts in Mount Vernon. The first Saturday that the breakfast was canceled was going to be Pie Day. Darn it!

Lots of friends and family members have offered to help us, including delivering anything we need. Fortunately, we haven’t really needed any help yet.

Every day has been the same. I start the morning enjoying my coffee, breakfast and newspaper while watching the birds in our yard and at our feeders. Then I move to my office, where I respond to messages and write my columns.

After lunch I usually read magazines and books. Fortunately, I have lots of books and I am working my way back through my favorites. About five years ago I purchased a new bookshelf and Linda told me that would be my last bookshelf. But I have lots of shelves full of books in the living room and my office. And I was particularly excited recently to receive Paul Doiron’s new novel, “One Last Lie,” to review.

I am especially worried about our outdoor industry, including guides and sporting camps. I’m afraid a lot of nonresidents will not travel to Maine to hunt and fish during this crisis, and that will be devastating to our guides. And if this pandemic continues through the summer and fall, it will be a real disaster for our entire outdoor industry.

I wrote a book about Maine sporting camps for Down East Books, and as I researched it, I learned a lot about sporting camps. If they are open only seasonally, serving anglers and hunters, many are struggling. If they’re open all year long, they’re doing better.

I use Claybrook Mountain Lodge east of Kingfield as an example. When the Drummonds opened their lodge, deer hunting was their most profitable business. Today it is their least profitable, and cross-country skiing is their most profitable. But because of the virus, I’m afraid a lot of camps will go broke.

I’ve also been thinking about all the wonderful inns and restaurants that Linda and I wrote about for the seven years we wrote weekly travel columns for this newspaper. Many of them have had to close and that is devastating for them. I’m afraid many will never reopen.

There will be more devastation if tourists don’t come to Maine this summer, especially along our coast. And I feel especially bad for all those student athletes whose spring seasons were canceled.

I’m also thinking about the small family winery in Greve, Italy, which rents two apartments to tourists. Linda and I loved our many visits there, and have sent more than 70 people from Maine to stay there. They’re closed now, and I hope Alessandro and his family are safe and doing OK.

I also worry about the wonderful sporting camps and lodges in Quebec, where I enjoyed amazing fishing. At each camp and lodge, most of their customers were from the United States. Now that the border has closed, I doubt these places will even open.

One thing I can encourage you to do is to get outside and enjoy our beautiful Maine environment. Our 3- and 5-year-old granddaughters live in Massachusetts. After their schools closed their mom started sending us photos of the girls walking on the trail in the woods in back of their house. That was wonderful! I grew up in the woods, but sadly, today, lots of kids never go into the woods.

I was particularly pleased when our commissioner of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, Judy Camuso, opened fishing early in our brooks and streams and suspended the requirement that you purchase a fishing license. I hope many of you are taking advantage of that to enjoy some quiet time along one of our beautiful brooks or streams. And I hope you caught some fish!

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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