Yesterday I was taking a walk on the lake. It was a cloudy, misty day and there weren’t many of us out there. I was trying to cram a power walk in before a meeting so I was speeding along the lake. I passed a woman who was moseying, seemingly without a care in the world in the middle of the day on a rainy Wednesday.

As I passed the woman I instinctively turned to see who it was. She was wearing a mask and a hoodie. She looked a little bit like she was gearing up to rob a bank. But I knew her. “Hi!” I said, surprised to see her in the middle of a workday.

“Hi,” she said, from behind her mask.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“I have COVID,” she said. “It’s not bad,” she explained, “the vaccine really works! I’m tired but I just needed to get outside and get some fresh air.”

When she first told me she had COVID, I instinctively stepped away from her. But then, registering that she had a mask and we were outside, I righted my reaction and stepped forward again.

We talked a little bit, normal chit-chat, not really about COVID. We didn’t talk about where she got it or who she might have exposed. We didn’t spend a lot of time on her symptoms. We talked mostly about her dog who’d recently died; about which neighborhood vet we liked the best.

We’ve turned a corner. There was a time when we all wore masks outside. We stepped away from each other all the time, assuming that COVID was everywhere. We talked about it constantly.

We’ve entered the era of COVID calm. The virus is out there. Some people get it. And, for the most part, those who are vaccinated seem to weather the virus well. But we’re not collectively freaking out anymore.

Ahhhh. Such a relief. Last week I went to a concert at a huge venue — thousands of people. Most were wearing masks, but many were not. They were drinking beer or eating snacks or just not wearing their masks.