I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Six weeks of isolation

Trillium in the forest
I love these beautiful fragile flowers. I've never seen a forest of them, but I know they exist, or at least they did at one time. They are fragile and ephemeral, only blooming once in early spring. Over the years, I've been fortunate to see them deep into summer months as we hike in the High Country, where the snow is slow to leave and spring comes in July. When a trillium flower ages, it turns purple, and I've seen many over the years. Not this year, though, as the entire Mt. Baker Wilderness Area will be closed through September.

It's been six weeks now since Washington State entered our period of self-isolation in mid-March. Friday is the first day in May. I believe it will be in effect until the end of the first week of the month, and may be extended if necessary. What a strange world we live in today, with millions of businesses closed down in most countries, few people leaving home to go to work, and in the US alone, 26 million people have filed for unemployment. Friday will be another day when millions will be unable to pay their mortgage or rent, with no end to this disaster in sight. I am thankful for Social Security for us old folks, but it barely covers the rent. I expect to see at least a 25% drop in my annuities, delivered monthly into my bank account. But we do have enough to get by without going into debt, which is more than most people can say. Hopefully we will get through this period with our country intact. A very scary time indeed.

Other than being unable to attend the local YMCA, which was part of my daily life before all this, and my wonderful Saturday walks with the ladies and my usual Thursday hikes with the Senior Trailblazers, most of the beautiful springtime outdoors in the Pacific Northwest is available to me. I am healthy enough to walk and hike alone, or with another trusted friend who will social distance with me. That trillium picture was taken last week when I went for a walk in the woods with my friend Melanie. But I miss my routine and yearn for its return.

However. Looking on the bright side, SG and I have learned to accommodate each other's constant presence without our marriage falling apart. In fact, we are happier together than I would have believed possible. While I am missing my morning routine in town, he is missing his solitary mornings but has adjusted quite well, considering. Both of us, we are pretty sure, have had the Covid-19 illness and recovered. After seeing that 20% of all New Yorkers have tested positive for antibodies, this tells me that there are lots of people like us who are survivors of the illness. We were able to use telemedicine to communicate with our doctors and be reassured that we made the right choice not to attempt to get tested. Unless you are very sick, you don't need to.

Another bright side is the clean air that some places have not experienced in years. I saw a picture showing the difference, and it reminded me that we truly need to move away from the world we have been living in. Perhaps this time in the history of the world will be where we moved from one historical period to another, with it being born around us. Technology has made a huge difference in our ability to stay connected with one another during this time. I've used video conferencing to take yoga classes, and I talk and visit with family and friends through different software programs. That has been a real asset in helping to keep my sanity through this period. And I've taken advantage of the many ways I can bring entertainment into my living room: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and now Apple TV. (I subscribed just last week to that one.)

And while there may be shortages of some items in my grocery store, for the most part it is well stocked and I can visit with social distancing in place. Our Farmers' Market opened last week in a limited version, with only a few people being allowed in at a time, but it's sure nice to see those familiar vendors. We are not able to pick over the produce, but as we point at what we want, the items are weighed and bagged without any physical contact with the vendor. And now almost everyone is wearing a face mask and maintaining proper distance from others. Soon (hopefully), this will all be a memory and we will return to a semblance of normal life. But I suspect it will be a new normal, not the same way as the one we had before. I like to think it will be a better normal.

We had a couple of days with gentle rain, enough to clear the air of pollen and giving the garden a good drink. It's been cool, but I have enjoyed the clouds and sun alternating throughout the days, and again I can give thanks for the environment we are surrounded with. So much greenery, so many lush flowers blooming everywhere. It's hard to be too gloomy when the weather is so fine. And I have adapted, finally, to a less vigorous daily routine, no longer caring that much about my step count (although I do still care), and enjoying my ability to put on my hiking shoes and step out the door into a wonderful world.

Sunday. I keep reminding myself that it's Sunday, which is why I'm writing this post right now. For a few minutes, I debated about going to the Farmers' Market, but then I realized that was yesterday. Some people love schedules and routine (I'm one of them) but I am also learning that I can adapt, even in my old age. I feel hopeful about the future.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present. —Bill Keane
And now it's beginning to look like the time is coming to wrap this up. Next week we will be in the month of May, with March and April 2020 behind us. Who knows what the world will look like in a few more months? I'm hopeful, because why not?  I've managed to leave my gloom behind me for the moment, and I'm looking forward to having at least a little less isolation in the future. My dear partner lies sleeping, still, next to me, and I'll be heading into the kitchen to make some coffee in my French press. Perhaps I'll sit on the front porch and enjoy it as the sun warms me on the outside, while the coffee does the same on the inside. Dear friends, I am eternally grateful for you, for the virtual family we have created, and the wonderful community of like-minded souls that visit this spot every Sunday morning. Until we meet again next week, be safe and be well. I wish you all good things.


Linda Reeder said...

I'm glad that you are feeling more positive this Sunday morning. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and another garden drink is forecast for tomorrow. The flowers are happy too.

gigi-hawaii said...

Nice commentary on this special time in the world. I am glad we are all giving Mother Nature a break from man made pollution.

Marie Smith said...

Government here will be lifting some of the measures next month. We had 26 cases, all due to travel. All but two are recovered. No hospitalizations. The island is closed to non residents though and probably will be into the future. Not all of Canada is at the same stage as we are.

We miss our hikes and picnics, hugs of the grandkids and time with our daughter. It will be good to have some of our lives back

Take care, Jan.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Glad you got to hike with Melanie! You sound more positive this week! Hope you have a good week! :)

Rian said...

The fact that all this is happening when for most of us nature is at it's best seems almost... (I don't know the right word to use here) maybe prophetic? To me it seems that nature is taking back her own. We weren't listening before. Maybe we'll listen now?

We do need to focus on learning from all this. How the world handles this crises will determine our/everyone's future. Is the world's future in good hands? Don't know the answer to this.

So glad you are in a better place these days, DJan. I think you've come over to the bright side... which is always there, but sometimes hard to find during difficult times. But your love of nature will bring you through. However, I must admit that I miss your hiking pictures almost as much as you must miss your hiking...

Elephant's Child said...

Like you I hope we move into a better, kinder (to the world and each other) new normal.
cyber hugs to you. Today and every day.

Gigi said...

The more I keep hearing about the cleaner air, etc. the more I keep thinking - is this a re-set? I'm hopeful that in the new normal we remember what we've learned during this time.

Like you and Smart Guy - The Husband and I are adapting. But, unlike your situation, The Husband is considered "essential" and is at work most days - which gives us both a little break.

Hold on to your positive attitude DJan - we will get through this!

Arkansas Patti said...

You and SG seem to have adjusted rather well to the new normal.I thought the lack of exercise would really get to you but glad you have found ways to work around it and not chafe.
I saw your (I think it was your) Farmer's Market on CBS Sunday morning. It was interesting how the vendors have adjusted and can keep everyone safe. We humans are pretty resourceful.

The Furry Gnome said...

We certainly have some beautiful forests full of Trilliums here!

Red said...

We are adaptable and can function well in different situations. You're a good example. I think those who function well in regular life will continue to function well. I think life will be much the same when this is over. However, I hope we learned some things. Here we have to radically change the way we look after seniors.

Anvilcloud said...

What a positive post.You seem to be doing very well.

By the way, the trillium is our provincial flower although I am sure that our variety is a little different than yours.

We watched a Lewis and a Murdoch today. Maybe it was two Murdochs. We are just on season 9, so they should last for a long time. I do prefer Lewis, but there aren’t as many episodes. We are the penultimate season already, but we started on season 5 or 6 having caught the first few seasons previously.

Rita said...

Sounds like you have adapted mostly to the new routines. Life altered so quickly.
Have you been out planting in your garden? Are you and Melanie planning another hike?

Galen Pearl said...

When I was at the cabin last weekend, the trillium was in full bloom, all fresh and white. I was a bit surprised by the suddenness of it since two weeks before I saw no evidence of the leaves or blooms. Such a sweet spring surprise every year. The area around my cabin and the short slope down to the creek is popping with white. It makes me happy every year. After that, I look forward to the wild rhododendron (all pink) blooming throughout the forest.

I love your weekly reflections. By the way, your comment about the french press coffee reminded me of a qigong exercise I made up that I call "qi french press." If you are interested, email me and I'll try to describe it to you. Very simple.

justme_alive said...

Hmm I hadn’t heard that the Mount Baker wilderness area would be closed through September, that’s news to me.

Linda Myers said...

As we begin week 8 of the lockdown in Tucson, it's 100 degrees outside but the A/C is doing well indoors. I have been bored for the first time in the last couple of days because I was able to get outside and ride my bike every day before that. Now it needs to be done early in the morning, when I am not usually awake. Guess I need to change that habit, at least for now.

I have learned that we can get along with much, much less. I needed to learn that.

Friko said...

What a lovely bright post on the lovely bright day you are having. It’s all we can do, live from day to day, with hope and determination to survive.
Will things be different when this is all over? I do so wish it but I am not too sure that govts. (yours incl.) are willing to forego production, money making, ‘progress’, etc. They don’t even care how many of us are dying.

You and SG, stay safe and stay sane.