by Carolyn Trower

So, this is what spring looks like in Missouri…temperature in the teens and a wind chill factor below zero. It makes me wonder if anything in my flower beds will even survive. After looking forlornly at some seed catalogs, I switched over to the stack of this week’s newspapers on the table.

Staying up on the news is essential to becoming, and remaining, part of a well-informed citizenry. I prefer my news in the printed version, either in a newspaper or a magazine.

I read the stories (in two different newspapers) on Trump’s visit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; the “bomb cyclone” that devastated the East Coast; recent action from the Supreme Court; and the United Methodists’ convention debate over the One Church Plan vs the Traditional Plan.

The article that really got my attention was the one about this year’s flu season, “More Severe Strain of Flu on Rise.” There has been wave after wave of “a virus” through our schools and subsequently through our community for months now. This article listed symptoms – the usual suspects, fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. I experience a varied combination of some of these symptoms on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

Then I read that my diligence in getting the flu shot is only 44% effective against this year’s bad boy – H3N2. Ever see the movie “Virus?”

The further I read the better it got. Children and senior citizens are more susceptible to the flu’s complications – pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, or organ failure. Cheerful information indeed. Kinda of sounds like damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Unless you choose to move to a monastery or a fishing cabin on a faraway shore you face some pretty grim possibilities.

By decree of movie theaters and most restaurants, I am considered a “senior citizen.” I’ve surrounded myself with teenagers since August and the rule of survival in the wild is adapt or die. My immune system has always been pretty good, and I like to think all those years of exposure to the many “bugs” floating around in the classroom has kept it strong. Still, I think I’ll pass on reading any more medical articles for the time being.

Perusing the entertainment section, I found a book review for “The Vanishing Man.” It’s a book about a missing portrait of Shakespeare. Fiction, of course, since there is only one known portrait of the Bard ever published in any of the books or articles written about him. It graces the covers of college textbooks and is often put through filters to fit a particular theme. The book is part detective story and part speculative biography. I hope to read it this summer, if we ever have a summer.

Reading, food for the mind and thought for the soul, is essential to maintaining that well-informed citizenry so necessary in keeping the wolves from our shores and our government. Also handy in widening that narrow world view that sometimes clouds our better judgement. Read, it does a body good.