Here’s my new normal. (I know. A laughable term.) Since March, when the world as we know it came to a screeching halt in the midst of what was a lively winter, I did what everyone else did and went home. I’ve been here since the evening of March 13.
Home, for me, is a refuge. Little did I know it would become a comfortable cage. But here we are. I enjoy an insular world of a full pantry, decent Wi-fi, a heapstack of vinyl, a couple of demanding cats and a fella with whom I’m still deliriously in love with even as we lean hard on three decades together. I’m ridiculously lucky. Add to that I am still working, healthy and here, in this community. Hashtag blessed.
Early on in this nonsense I was possessed by a vision of Jabba the Hut and got on a scale where the reading caused me to immediately clutch my pearls. No bueno. I figured that since my life routine no longer included commuting to an office where I sat for hours on end, and being tempted by the irresistible wiles of the baker half of The Butcher and The Baker, I could tackle my personal health in a far more proactive manner than I’d been doing — which was actually not at all. My pandemic life now includes tracking what I eat and moving my slothful ass every day. The results have been gratifying, to say the least. I detect a slight hollow to my cheeks and my clothes seem roomier. And that attention to self-care has, most likely, contributed to my ability to cope with Covid confinement and the inevitable upwelling of angst I do battle with daily. I walk and walk and walk in search of my center. It can be an elusive target.
But what I do find, nearly every morning (the best time to get out, before the crowds) are marvels of nature. I paused to watch a pair of woodpeckers work a tree trunk yesterday, and today I listened to the soft plap-plap-plap of a family of geese crossing the bike path. I admire the blooming water lilies and had a stare down with a deer. I broke the gaze and went a different route in deference to her peace. Eventually I am forced to return to my home where the Dearly Beloved is engaged in the morning tea ritual, preparing to pedal into town where he works in an otherwise empty office.
Though largely confined to my keyboard, there is greater freedom of movement. Run a load of laundry, push a vacuum around, water the plants — all healthy and necessary ways to not only increase my step count, but to hopefully avoid death by desk. That’s a real thing. I can’t think of a more undignified way to go. I will seethe from my grave if someone says, “She died doing what she loves.” No. She did not love pulling wire. She loved writing and where she wrote best was while walking. Remember that.
One thing the pandemic cannot touch is the way a seed and soil and sun and water give rise to all manner of glorious things. In what may have been an intuitive, perhaps prescient decision, this year I germinated mostly flower seeds, eschewing past, ambitious attempts at growing my own food (or at least a handful of miniature carrots and two leaves of spinach). I stuck with just Swiss chard, (the deer loved it), basil and arugula for the table. A friend’s struggling rosemary plant is now thriving and aromatic, and showy, profusely blooming purple and white-flecked petunias make my entryway welcoming and sweet-smelling. My clematis vines also proved delicious for the ungulates that roam the ‘hood, but before they got munched, their purple flowers nodded from countless stems. My joy in gardening is boundless. I lean on nasturtium, cosmos, violas to cure my blues and relieve my eyes from the almighty screen.
And can I get a hell yeah for peaches and sweet corn and zucchini and peppers? The pop-up stand within walking distance from my kitchen is the recipient of my hard-earned cash, handed over with no regrets. Nothing says summer like picking corn outta my teeth. Coronavirus, you can’t touch that.
My other summer delight, though, and one that has definitely been touched by covid, is baseball. I didn’t know how much I missed it until we finally settled in for a game last week. The 60-game season will be one in which every single play matters. Every hit, every strike, every bobbled grounder. With a backdrop of canned crowd noise and cardboard cutouts filling seats, it’s truly surreal. But the Rockies’ white-hot start bodes well for this asterisked season. I vow never to miss a game.
In this unforgettable summer, I careen between calm acceptance and abject dread. On the fingers of one hand I can count the number of people outside my address with whom I’ve socialized. I am adept at Zoom and the last live concert I saw was moe. on March 10 at the Sheridan Opera House. The cerulean sky overheard is no longer laced with con trails, and I miss my family more than I have the power to convey.
These are strange days, indeed. At least I’m home.