Six Weeks In
By my calculation we are six weeks into whatever you call this — shelter in place, quarantine, COVID shutdown. For us March 14 marked the day/ weekend when life as we had known it ended and we entered the current reality. Some observations:
First, if someone had said to me, six weeks ago, “Okay, you’ll need to basically be at home for the next six weeks, getting out only for walks/ runs, etc. in the neighborhood, no social gatherings, no going to church, no shopping except for essentials, no restaurants or theater etc. And by the way, no time with grandkids or family (except on-line) what would I have thought? “You’re crazy!” or “I’m not sure I can do that.” Well, here we are. We’ve done it. Or more to the point, we are doing it, as there is no end in sight.
That said, and second, the natives appear to be getting restless. As I write, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Seattle the traffic on Seaview Avenue, the street along the waters of Shilshole Bay where we live, is crazy. People are out. People are driving. People are driving fast. Never mind that there is no place to go, as Golden Gardens Park, at the end of Seaview Avenue, is closed. “Let me out,” seems to be the watchword, at least today.
The novelty has worn off. We’re news/ information saturated. People are getting antsy. Not only that, it appears to me, from our third floor observational perch, that folks are relaxing the social distancing guidelines. As if to say, “Okay, we’ve been good long enough.” We do have a nice spot, perch, from which to watch the world go by, and so probably feel less need to get in a car and go. And the passing scene is full of entertainments, like the gal who was creating mega-bubbles yesterday evening to the delight of on-lookers and passers-by (but to the confusion of dogs). (Photo credit Linda Robinson).
Third, while having noted the apparent restlessness, the general degree of cooperation has been darn high. Good spirits, reaching out in care (to the extent possible), humor and making adjustments have been in evidence everywhere. While the President and his minions continue to play this for whatever political advantage they can extract, setting people against one another at each and every opportunity, the population at large has pulled together. I have the sense that most people are actually ignoring the President and his so-called “briefings.”
My fourth observation is Seattle or Northwest specific, although it can be translated to other locales. We have an early spring here. It’s a blessing, especially now, especially this year. And it’s been spectacular in blossoms and beauty. But paradoxical. We’re shut-down, worried about and experiencing a pandemic. Meanwhile, nature is glorious. One set of blooming trees has followed another. First, plum, then cherry and now apple trees (at right). Dogwoods (the State Flower of Virginia) and lilacs are gorgeous just now. Crocuses and daffodils gave way to quince, camellias and tulips. Have I, have we, noticed the glories of spring more than ever this year, our souls hungry and attentive, our lives otherwise slowed? I don’t know whether, as the poet said, “April is the cruelest month of the year,” but this year it may be the most ironic.
Fifth, we’re ready for a change, a new chapter, a shift. Will we get it? Are we in for yet more, and longer, hunkering down? Or a gradual “re-opening” and “return to normal”? My guess is that we will want and try for a “return to normal,” but discover that there’s no going back. Even if the infection rates decline, we won’t flip a switch and go back to where we were and who we were before this all began. We may try. Probably we will try. But we have been changed. Just how, we don’t yet fully comprehend.
It hasn’t been easy. You have done well. Keep the faith.