Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

Four singers showed up on my front lawn Sunday afternoon and sang their hearts out for an hour or so — and it wasn't even my birthday.

It didn't really surprise me when other people started setting up their camp chairs to enjoy the show. This was live music on a professional scale, after all.

About the only thing better, at least for me, would have been a live, full-scale play on the front lawn. Or maybe a Major League Baseball game, but it would be pretty hard what with the sycamore tree in the middle of the infield.

Back to the live music. This celebration on my front lawn was one of the Camerata Singers' Front Porch Concerts, where a few members of the more than 70-person choir offer a repertoire mixing classic and popular music, typically with an audience of 100 or so. Camerata, denied its regular performance schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic — like every other live entertainment group in the country — came up with the traveling concert as a way to stay busy and in front of the public with in-person performances.

Despite a further shutdown in the winter, the concept appears to have worked. As artistic director James K. Bass said Sunday, there's something about being physically present when art is being made that is lost once the performance has shrunk down to fit on that computer screen.

Thank God that we appear to be on our way out of the pandemic and the need for these contortions to share live art. It's still baby steps, but a hope seems justified that there will be singers, orchestras, actors on stages sometime this fall.

I can't wait.

A price must be paid, though. Everyone except the singers were wearing masks at my house Sunday. That was the case even though most were fully vaccinated.

It appears the pandemic powers that be are about ready to say we don't really have to wear masks when outside — at least unless you're sitting in the middle of a rowdy crowd of sports fans. By the time you read this, they might have already issued this pronouncement.

Still, those medical experts continue to say we should continue wearing masks when around other people, at least inside buildings. Monday, I heard one of Los Angeles County's top docs say mask-wearing should become normal even after the coronavirus pandemic.

She pointed out that there was essentially no flu season this year, and colds have become rare — all because people are wearing masks.

Well, I'm happy I haven't had the flu or a cold this year. But I'm far from certain that I want to wear a mask for the rest of my life, even just part of the time.

Here's just one issue about that: I had a hard time Sunday recognizing any of my friends behind their masks. We figured it out eventually, but there was more than one awkward moment.

I'm willing to take this whole thing slowly, and to ask others to do the same. But saying masks are going to be part of the new normal for the foreseeable future is a real buzz-kill for me.

I guess we just take it as it comes and adjust. Not many options, are there?


Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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