It’s Friday night, and the air certainly feels like early fall.  “Seems like we should be at a football game,” I say to my husband. 

But instead of the high school bleachers, we are seated around a campfire, just over an hour north of our home field.  Instead of yelling loudly, we are conversely quietly, catching up with two friends, their son and his girlfriend.   

There is no high school tackle football this year in Vermont; it’s flag and its seven on seven, too.  Some towns have opted out entirely.  Others have insisted that no spectators be allowed.  In all situations, no more than 150 people can come to watch.  Family groups can sit together, but friends will be at least six feet apart.  Cheering will be muted, through masks.  We probably won’t attend any games this year anyway.

For right now, we watch the fire as it jumps and sparks; we doge the smoke as it wisps one way and then another. 

After a short half an hour or so, the cool of the night settles in more deeply.  We opt to return to the warmth of our camper. 

I can’t help but to think that if it were a football game, we’d still be outside.  Instead, I’m quite OK with snuggling under a blanket, watching a movie for a while. 

It’s an odd sort of silver lining, but I’m becoming used to this sort of substitution by this point.