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, May 24, 2020

A holiday like no other

Masked and ready
Memorial Day, usually a four-day holiday that marks the unofficial start of the summer season. Not this year. We are still under "stay home, stay safe" orders from our governor, and asked to wear face masks when in public, whether indoors or outside when we are not able to physically distance ourselves from other people. These homemade masks, given to us by a dear blogging friend who asks to remain anonymous, have quickly become our favorites. They have adjustable elastic ear loops and sturdy replaceable filters. Not to mention they are strikingly handsome. I get asked about mine whenever I wear it. ("Sorry, it's a special gift from a friend.")

I now have five different face masks, all reusable, and I keep one in the car, in case I forget to take one with me when I leave the house, and one that is light and works great for hiking. I don't actually use it on the trails unless I see someone approaching, and then I pull it up from around my neck. Everyone wears one around here, and you would stand out from the crowd if barefaced. I think these fashion accessories will be with us for quite awhile. It does make me feel safer to see everyone around me with one on. In my county, we still have people testing positive and a 10% fatality rate, mostly from those in nursing homes.

None of the usual Memorial Day celebrations are taking place around here. The Ski to Sea relay race is an annual activity that is missing. The huge crowds that congregate in Fairhaven at the end of race day are missing, too. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't think I have seen anybody around here breaking the social distancing rules, much less gathering in a large group. I see my hiking friends on Zoom, otherwise I stay on the trails either alone or with one friend. Apparently now it is okay (as of yesterday) to gather in groups up to five people not from your household, for any reason, as long as you follow the guidelines. Since we are definitely in the high risk group because of our ages, we'll continue to stay home. But maybe I'll join some neighbors for a nice little chat today to mark the holiday, socially distancing of course.

Memorial Day is distinct from Veterans Day by honoring those who gave their lives in battle. Although I've had plenty of relatives who have served, nobody in my immediate family died on the battlefield. For that I am grateful, but I am also grateful for the sacrifice of all all those who suffered and died in our numerous wars. Although my son was in the Army when he died, he died of a heart attack and not in combat. And for that I am thankful.
To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go. —Mary Oliver
I've got a book of Mary Oliver's poems, Devotions, and find solace whenever I take it from the shelf and peruse her amazing poetry, its ability to speak the words that seem to come from my own heart. I give you a link to the Kindle store, in case you might want to join me on a journey through her gentle and very relevant work. She died last year, at the age of 83. There was a time when that would have seemed to have been a full life, but as I get closer to that age myself, I find it sad that we couldn't have kept her around a bit longer. But as she says, "when the time comes to let it go, to let it go." I've got five years before I get there, hopefully. There are no guarantees, even for one more year, or one more day.

So I guess that means I'd better darn well appreciate each and every single day I have to enjoy the world. With summer just beginning in all its strange circumstances, it just doesn't matter. This day, this time in my life, will not come again, so to burrow under the covers and hide is not an option. I'm going to concentrate on all the wonderful delights that await me, once I climb out of bed and begin my day.

Perhaps this will be a little shorter than usual, because nothing seems to be flowing out of my fingers. And the day does beckon, even if my new normal is just to dress in comfy old clothes and shuffle into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee instead of heading out to the coffee shop. Our lives will return to normal eventually, but I suspect it will look quite different from the time Before.

I feel very fortunate to be old enough not to have to worry about finding a job in this scary environment, hoping they won't take away any of my social security and wishing that everybody had a guaranteed income. And I not only have food to put on the table, I also have the internet, a laptop that connects me to the world, and plenty of virtual friends to visit. When I allow myself to stop worrying about what might happen and concentrate on what wonders surround me, I've got nothing to stop me from being happy and content. Plus I've got that wonderful partner, still sleeping next to me, to share my days with. Life is precious and to be appreciated and celebrated, so that's what I'll do today.

And I truly hope that this morning finds you in similar circumstances, and that you will find a way to share your world with someone, whether near or far, furry or not, until we meet again next week. I wish you all good things, dear friends.


Tabor said...

That hardest part is not being able to control what happens to our loved ones...but that is stupid to write, because life has always been that way. I have the N95 masks that I use on the rare times I go out. I ordered elastic to makes masks and it never arrived. I finally order a few cloth masks and they will be delivered NEXT month.

Marty said...

Yes, at least every other day, or daily, my husband or I comment on how fortunate we are. Retired, healthy, safely employed kids, and no weddings, trips, or other events disrupted by all this.
I do resent,though, a little the days I'm losing. The way they drift by. At 70 I hate to see them go so unused!

Rian said...

"There are no guarantees, even for one more year, or one more day." How true. And it's always been this way... just hitting home harder now. Enjoy today! And maybe try to spread a little joy to someone else in some small way.

Linda Reeder said...

As I sit here this morning, hurting from what used to be light garden work and a short walk, but now a major effort, it's hard not to feel low and gloomy. It's still cloudy. I guess I need to have the sun break through. And then I again realize how fortunate I am, what beauty surrounds me, and that I must seek joy if I am to find it. I will work on that. I don't want to waste my precious days either.
Thanks for another thoughtful start to a Sunday morning. Be well.

gigi-hawaii said...

I share my life with David, who is a terrific husband. It really helps to be married.

Arkansas Patti said...

This is a rather tough time to be old in that we are automatically put into the high risk group but it is also a time to be glad we are old in that we do have a steady income and don't have to worry about food or shelter. I can't imagine the stresses those with families to care for are going through.
Thanks for the kick in the jeans to get me moving today. You are right--no time to curl up under the covers.

Anvilcloud said...

Great thoughts about life and living in the present.

We are not doing well masking here, and I don't know why. Sue and I will have to be exceedingly careful.

Marie Smith said...

So far in this pandemic, our family has been inconvenienced and and lonely at times but otherwise we are doing well. My husband and I continued our daily walks, our income was unaffected and our daughter continued to work as well. We have all stayed healthy, even the three kids. We followed the guidelines set out for us and continue to do so. Masks are not common here since social distancing is not a problem. We have them though ready when needed.

We are grateful for the guidance from our provincial medical director, our premier and the prime minister of Canada who has led us well through these tough times.

Living in the moment is more important than ever. It is all we are guaranteed so we may as well get the most out of it while we can.

Elephant's Child said...

Love your masks. Blogger buddies are very special indeed. Can you pass on my appreciation to your anonymous friend.
We are not required to wear masks here but are required to keep our distance. Softening isolation requirements have seen the social distance rules flouted. I do hope that we don't pay an expensive price.
Love the poem.
Stay well, stay safe.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Nice masks! Far Guy has one with Hawaiian Hula girls! We can only do what we can do everyday. I am getting paranoid around some people...the lady that loaded bird seed into the car had no mask on....I stepped back. Some people just don't "get" it. My opinion that it will be a rocky road now. A high school classmate of Far Guys...her husband got it at the VA in Fargo...and he is not doing well...and she probably won't either...she was crossing her fingers that she doesn't get it.
Scary scary stuff.
Stay safe! Hope you get a hike in this week!

Red said...

You seem to be in a much tighter lock down than we are. Probably half the people who went in the store this morning wore masks. Who knows when we'll see the end of this virus? Til then, one step at a time.

Linda Myers said...

We are living quietly most times. I ride my bike with a friend in the morning and the evening every day - with social distancing - and that is saving my sanity. I am learning that the less I say at home, the better my husband and I get along. He is a man of few words, and I am becoming so!

Rita said...

Sadly here in ND our governor had to kind of beg people not to give people who have masks on a hard time...he got teary eyed saying they might have a child who's got cancer or something like that. Some stores like Costco require them and some do not. People in the building here used to be wearing them but then the governor opened things up pretty much this month and now I don't see very many. I wear mine and will continue to do so...and would even if somebody gave me a hard time. I enjoy my life and don't want to press my luck--LOL! ;)

Galen Pearl said...

I passed a farmer's market yesterday. About half the people had masks on. I'm so saddened by people fighting with each other, and stunned that people would actually be killed or attacked over the issue of wearing masks. We are a strange people.

Sounds like you are finding ways to stay active and stay connected. Like you, I'm blessed to be retired and secure with a roof over my head and food on the table. And good friends to be in contact with.

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Azka Kamil said...

nice article :)

Glenda Beall said...

Hi DJan,
Like you I am for wearing masks. I went out today to the grocery store and the post office. My sister and I wore masks and in our town all employees in the grocery store wore them. But just across the line in Georgia, hardly anyone seems to be wearing them. That grocery store had no one wearing a mask and neither were they in the post office. One man in our store made fun of an employee who wore a mask. I am in that high risk group and it angers me to see those who just ignore the safety rules that could save my life. But, as you say, we have today and can do all we can to make it good. I have had to accept that I cannot control anyone's life but my own, so I will do my best to stay safe at home. So glad your area is cooperating so well. Our macho mountain folks, mostly men, will not wear masks, evidently. I don't see them anyway.