There are lots of ways to do business in a pandemic, not the least of which is holding a news meeting in the pouring rain.

My colleagues and I had not seen each other since mid-March, when we all started working from home.

Though some of us speak on the phone every day, email and text, we decided it was time to meet in person.

We figured the best way to stay safe was to meet outside, so I offered up my backyard.

Sometimes the best place to meet is in the backyard where it’s well ventilated and spacious, but sometimes you have to bring an umbrella and speak loud above the rainfall. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

When we made the plans earlier this week, it was sunny, breezy and warm, just the kind of weather one hopes to have on the day of an outdoor confab.

We agreed on Thursday, as that was a time we could get together. Our schedules are wide-ranging, so to land a time when we all could do it was fortunate.

The weather forecast was iffy for an 11:30 a.m. meeting.

When Thursday arrived and a light mist was falling, I texted Greg, my editor, and asked if we should change it to Friday.

That wouldn’t work for everyone, he said. He promised he had extra umbrellas to bring, just in case.

So, I arranged lawn and deck chairs at least 6 feet apart on the lawn with a table in the center, on which I placed a pot of flowers to make the venue more cheerful, as well as a couple rolls of paper towels to wipe up chairs if it rained. Had I forgotten anything? Of course, a bottle of hand sanitizer. I skipped into the house to get one.

Taylor arrived first, armed with an umbrella, followed immediately by Rich, Mike, Molly and Greg, who brought a box of doughnuts, straight out of a Bangor bakery oven.

We greeted each other warmly and said it was good to finally see each others’ smiling faces.

It seemed a cozy gathering until the rain came.

As soon as we sat down and Greg started on his first topic of several — primary races, elections and town meetings  — the falling mist turned to a steady rain.

Hunkered down under our umbrellas — and some of us had larger, more sturdy ones than others — we began to giggle. Taylor, wearing a mask, clearly saw the irony in the situation and let out a full-blown laugh.

As Greg’s list of discussion items turned to graduations and local municipal issues, we were in a downpour.

In any other circumstance, we would have called it good and headed for cover, but not today.

We had business to take care of and what was the alternative?

This pandemic business may pose challenges, but this was nothing we couldn’t handle.

It could have been worse — a thunderstorm, hail, wind or cold. At least the temperature cooperated, at a balmy 66 degrees.

We were so glad to see each other that a little rainstorm wasn’t going to stop us.

After more than an hour of talk and questions, we wound things up, promised to meet again on Zoom or in person and went our separate ways.

In retrospect, holding a news meeting in the pouring rain wasn’t so bad.

We walked away soaked, bedraggled and carrying soggy reporters’ notebooks, but the session was productive and actually enjoyable.

We got to hear a chorus of birds, feel the cool rain on our knees and breathe the fresh air — a far cry from a cramped and crowded conference room.

There are more ways than one to get around a pandemic and we don’t plan to stop any time soon.

So, eat your heart out, coronavirus. We’ve got this covered.

 

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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