Looking back over this last year, from the realization that a new virus was starting to spread rapidly through months of social distancing, brings so many emotions to the forefront. March was the true beginning of local social distancing here in West Virginia. Our YMCA put 6-foot guidelines in place along with checking everyone entering for fever, and our Senior Center closed. These were the two places locally where our Master Trainer, Mark Coffindaffer, and our Instructor, Carol Brown, were teaching our tai chi classes.
With the advent of warmer weather, several class members began meeting at local parks. Soon word of mouth spread and there was a coming together of class members from the YMCA and the Senior Center for tai chi three mornings a week. It has proved to be a wonderful way to meet in a safer, outdoor environment and to broaden our circle of tai chi friends. Clarksburg City Parks kept electricity in one of the pavilions for us to connect a speaker for Mark to use so we old folks were able to hear instructions as we practiced. When it got too warm, we had a huge, old oak tree with a big enough shaded area for around fifteen of us to safely social distance when practicing. When it was cooler the basketball court soaked up the heat from the sun to warm our old bones. We even added a 42 Sword class before our other classes.
When cold weather returned, we moved indoors to a gym in one of the local churches until rising Covid-19 levels again forced us outdoors. We are back at the park in reduced numbers of between five to ten people. It certainly feels very odd to practice tai chi in gloves, but we persevere and are determined to continue through the winter whenever the temperatures are above 32° F. Dressing in layers with warmer shoes, gloves, hats, or ear warmers, and coats is becoming the norm.
Coping with Covid-19 restrictions is certainly teaching us many lessons. One of the most important has been the value of being with our friends and families. To continue being able to practice our tai chi with class members not only provides us with instruction to improve our tai chi but with a type of socialization that can only safely occur in person. We speak often of the energy of tai chi, but there is also great energy in the feelings you have seen in the smiling eyes of your classmates. We appreciate Mark and Carol so much for making this possible.
We would like to send greetings from West Virginia to our fellow tai chi practitioners and hope all of you have found ways to continue learning and practicing as we have.