Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Equinox is Cancelled

I want to express some thoughts about the corona virus pandemic. Perhaps readers would care to add something in the comments? On the other hand, if you would rather think about other things, I'll post some rock piles later.

I am lucky to be 67, getting social security, and owning my own house on Cape Cod. I am retired and already living in a bit of isolation, so staying at home is already what I am doing. On the other hand, worrying constantly if my nose drips, or I cough, or my lips get a bit dry... these make me expect to die - because my lungs are not in good shape. My wife was still working in Cambridge until last Tuesday, when I convinced her to stop going to work. But for the next two weeks, she is self-quarantined up in Concord. After 14 days, we are hoping she can come stay with me. So being alone is "lucky" but a bit unpleasant. We are all in a daze.

I have been taking some precautions. I figured to stock up on food sooner than later, because each time I go to the supermarket it becomes more likely I'll encounter virus particles. That means the shopping cart, the food on the shelves, the payment receipt - all are ways to get infected. So I carry an alcohol soaked sponge in a plastic bag, and wipe everything I touch, as well as my hands. But I am not allowed to touch my face until I get home and wash. Hard to remember!

Also I have been keeping up-wind and more than 6 feet from other people. I do not want to inhale air that someone else just exhaled. But I am desperate to have some human contact. So along with phoning family and friends constantly during the day, I also am taking walks and chatting with people on the street - keeping my distance. My son George says it is not hard to be 95% safe but getting to 99.99% would be nearly impossible. So I am taking precautions but not every possible one.

At the moment people are being friendly and supportive: a large puddle blocking my lane of the road and the oncoming driver blinks his headlights to tell me: go ahead and use his lane. Or waving at strangers as you drive bye. But the other day a guy was joking about being holed up in his house with a gun. I guess that kind of "Mad Max" future is a possibility. It may depend on shortages, if they occur - when people have to start breaking into other houses in order to eat. I suppose that is simply melodramatic. I hope so!

There are a couple of bright spots. One is that with the slow contemplative time passage, I end up doing some chores that seemed to always get postponed. Also thinking harder about some things. Recall: Isaac Newton's theory of gravity developed when he was sent to the country to avoid the plagues of the time. If I was younger I might be spending this time thinking about some interesting technical problem but, old as I am, I am reduced to trying to improve my drawing skills. I have been going out every afternoon to draw pictures of boats, water, and trees.

And this is bringing me closer to my far-flung children. We talk every day on the phone - something we didn't do before. It is a unique chance to get to know them as adults in a way that I would not have otherwise. We are all pretty healthy and will probably survive.

People around here are all taking precautions. The gas station attendant is wearing gloves and asks if I want to sign the slip using my own pen. In a lot of places they are being stupid. I hear Manhattanites are heading for the Hamptons and resuming a summer pattern of partying and restaurants. I heard they are licking a communal wall in Iran. I am sure you all know about the spring break partying of college youths down in Florida. We used to call that a "tax on the stupid". But stupid or not we are all likely to get sick eventually. For me, the goal is to postpone being sick until as late as possible - when the system has adjusted and knows how to handle it. In the meanwhile,  let's try to be comfortable and not too lonely. I am re-watching "Lord of the Rings" and trying to eat more vegetables.

In general, forest fires are good for the forest. Just no so good for the individual old trees. Good luck and best wishes.


Tim MacSweeney said...

Stay safe, my friend.
I'm trying to do the same.
May be we'll emerge into a better world when this is all over...

Chris Pittman said...

Good luck to you Peter. I am glad to hear you are being careful.

Things have still been business as usual for me through today. All non-essential businesses are closed- but nearly every business seems to be essential, somehow. I am taking the rest of the week off and am just going to stay at home. I've got a reasonable supply of food stocked up in case of a real quarantine. Maybe I will finally get some finds from the winter posted on here, soon.

Walking in the woods and fields is still safe, anyway. I've got some spots in mind that might be good to visit when few people are out and about.