(May 6) Coastal Alabamians celebrated May Day this year by mingling maskless by the thousands at the Arts and Crafts Festival in Fairhope, the charming Mobile Bay town sometimes considered to be the Carmel of the South.

In only mildly humid 80-degree sunshine, it was abundantly clear that some parts of America are simply done worrying about COVID-19. We’ll see soon enough if the coronavirus is ready to be done with Alabamians.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey lifted most coronavirus-related restrictions, including government-enforced mask mandates, on April 9. Still, it took an event like the arts festival to realize just how fully the populace has abandoned pandemic panic. With people congregating in semi-close quarters throughout six square blocks of streets generously adorned with brightly flowered hanging baskets and sidewalk plantings, perhaps only 1 in every 100 attendees wore face coverings.

Who could bother with such appurtenances when there were hot-food trucks from which to sample, fresh-squeezed lemonade aplenty, and ice cream available at every corner? And with a refreshing breeze blowing off the bay, how could a nasty virus possibly invade areas so full of human-created beauty?

Witness the craftsman from Georgia selling artfully made hand-whisk brooms — lovely handles of various woods, turned and polished for a nice grip. Or the local Fairhope artist with pretty, impressionistic-style landscapes — my wife said they “evoke the dream vision that Fairhope sometimes seems to be.” And there was a young lady selling beautiful copper “paintings”: green and aqua patina on copper plate, giving a sense of being underwater or on a moonscape. In all, 100 artists were on display, along with plenty more from which to choose in surrounding permanent shops and parlors. To borrow from the title of a mini-hit movie filmed in Fairhope, one could certainly see a whole lot of “tiny, perfect things.”…

[The full column is at this link.]


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