The sun was shining, dogs were strutting their stuff, fish — well, a few — were being caught, and for many seizing a seemingly perfect Wednesday along the Vallejo waterfront, all the world’s problems were as invisible as the coronavirus itself.
It was a day to reflect, as a handful of locals pondered the question: “What are you thankful for?”
“I am thankful for my health, my family, my friends … and, most importantly, that I am safe and have a job. I can support my family. I know a lot of people who can’t do that right now,” said Russell Soriano.
A former Vallejoan, Soriano packed his fishing gear and his 7-year-old son, driving down from Fairfield, to cast their fate — and bait — to the wind.
“I’ve been coming out to this pier since I was a teenager. It’s safe and I can bring our chairs, sit down and relax,” Soriano said.
On this day — and during this challenging time — it mattered not that father and son came up empty.
“It doesn’t matter to me” if they catch anything, Soriano said. “It does to him, but not to me.”
Now more than ever, said Soriano, it is a time to be thankful.
“A lot of people don’t have jobs and a lot of people don’t get to support their families like they used to,” Soriano said.
The ultimate prize of fishing at the waterfront?
“Spending time with my son,” Soriano said.
Not far away, Steve “O.G.” was fixing his line. His gratitude extended far beyond snagging two stripers.
“I’m thankful for staying alive, that’s it,” Steve said. “Being on this Earth, as corrupted as the world is. A person has to appreciate just being here, being thankful to be here.”
“I’m grateful for this waterfront,” said Brooklyn native Annette Cardin, a 25-year Vallejoan. “I’m thankful for Costco and I’m thankful for nice people and thankful that we’re not in the terrible situations we see in Vallejo — people on the street and hungry. I’m thankful we can help when we can and we’re not in that position.”
“I am thankful I get to walk my dog and I’m still healthy,” said Robert Francisco, accompanied by Waffle, his half-Chihuahua, half-mutt.
Summi Rizvi, who bought a house in Vallejo just as the pandemic hit, took some time Wednesday for a waterfront walk with his toddler niece and Dray, his Staffordshire Terrier Pit Bull.
“I’m thankful for my two companions here, my family who is safe and healthy right now and the really nice weather today,” Rizvi said. “The future looks bright — things looking a little less crazy these days with the weather and the politics.”
Twila Cabral, an 8-year Vallejoan, said she was thankful for “life in general, and the beautiful weather. I’m thankful for everything. I’m going to stay home tomorrow and watch the quarantine. This is the first time in a long time I’ve been to the waterfront. I’m hoping to get back into the habit.”
Brenda Davis, doing some power walking, said she was “thankful to be here, thankful for my life, my health, and my strength. Thankful for my salvation. I thank Him for my friends. I even thank Him for my enemies. He’s given me all these — health and strength, family and friends, and just peace of mind.”
Several locals responded via email later Wednesday.
“First, I’m grateful for God’s blessings to be alive,” said veterans advocate Nestor Aliga. “As an immigrant, I’m thankful for the opportunities in America, the challenges that made me more resilient, and the amazing community support to survive, strive, and thrive because the best is yet to come.”
“I’m so thankful for all the blessings in my life, not the least of which are my wonderful wife and beautiful family. Surviving COVID-19 was cool, too,” said Pastor Scott Peterson of The Hill.
Another pastor, Al Marks at First Baptist Church, said he was thankful “that I made it to another birthday — 69 last weekend. And that my wife, Ellen, and I made it to 47 years and she hasn’t killed me yet.”
Marks added that he is also grateful for what’s become the “positive side of COVID — my personal finances are better because of less going out to eat and traveling, and the church finances are better than ever.”
As for comparing this year with any other, “if you leave out the threat of pandemic, wildfires, and weird weather, 2020 has been a very good year,” Marks said.