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Summer marks return to normal, whatever that is

Summer marks return to normal, whatever that is

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Peek around the corner, and you can see summer in the near distance.

Despite Memorial Day hiding out on the last day of May this year, all the signs are there.

The countdown calendars are nearing or reaching single days left before school’s out for summer.

After the summer of COVID-19 last year, the prospects look good for a much more “normal” summer in 2021.

Do you want to pay too much for parking, a hot dog and a beer? Your favorite Major League baseball team will be happy to host you for one of 81 home games — in limited numbers and while wearing a mask.

Live music is returning, at least on the outdoor scene. Amphitheaters are hosting concerts, and on Friday nights in central Nebraska the Hear Grand Island series of concerts will be making a welcomed return after joining so many other events on the 2020 sidelines.

With COVID numbers dropping and the rate of vaccinated people climbing (if at a slower rate now), making some smart, safe travel plans for the summer can be part of the family schedule once again.

Welcome back, “normal.”

Of course, with the way life changes around us all the time, it’s tough to really define what is normal.

You can think you know what is coming your way and then — bam! Two more babies than you expected.

I’m not sure what sort of summer a woman from Mali will have this year, except I suspect it may include a record-number of diaper changes.

Ultrasounds showed that she was pregnant with seven children, but on Tuesday she gave birth to five girls and four boys.

Those old enough to remember will agree with me that giving birth shouldn’t fill up the “Brady Bunch” squares in one single instance.

But if you prepared for seven children, will having two more leave you shorthanded on supplies? I’m guessing that mom would average about 38 minutes of sleep each day, with seven babies or with nine.

I’m not jealous at all. I’m happy with my two daughters, happily born a couple of years apart.

Yet my normal keeps changing, too. Somehow I got talked from living in a pet-free house for a long time into a one-cat house, then into a two-cat house and now our summer will include a ... frog?

A Pacman frog has somehow joined the family. More boringly known as South American horned frogs, these amphibians earned their name due to their round shape and large mouth. Yes, they do look like Pacman if he were a frog.

Since Ms. Pacman was the lone arcade game I was ever any good at, I will give this frog a chance.

They are terrestrial amphibians and very poor swimmers, so we have that in common — minus the amphibians part.

They are low maintenance, which would be a nice change of pace from a pair of cats who can ignore you for days and then decide they need to be needy 24/7.

But I’m not sure I asked all the pertinent questions.

Lemon, the yellow Pacman frog, eats a diet of live crickets. To stay live, the crickets need food.

So I need to pay to feed the frog’s food. I’m not so sure about this deal now.

But that’s my new normal. And I’ll take a frog over nine babies — that’s a lot of diaper rash.

And I’ll really take whatever the new normal of summer is this year, as long as it’s closer to the norm of 2019 than what we went through last year.

Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent. Once a week he wanders away from the sports department to offer his take on non-sports related topics. Email him at


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