“Goodness gracious me, the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!! Henny Penny
And, here we are, the Ides of March. In researching stories about why this day is such bad luck, besides what happened to Julius Caesar, The Smithsonian Magazine lists ten reasons, including: A New Global health Scare, 2003. After accumulating reports of a mysterious respiratory disease afflicting patients and healthcare workers in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada, the World Health Organization issues a heightened global health alert. The disease will soon become famous under the acronym SARS (for Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
When we drove home from town on Friday night, the dreaded northeast wind had begun to blow in the arctic front. Already, the “local traffic only” sign was flashing on our highway, and as we drove down our road, we were blocked by an enormous 100-year old Douglas Fir which had fallen. We parked the car, and used the flashlights on our phones to climb over it, and ran down the road to our house. The roar of the wind and the moaning of the trees as they rubbed against each other was absolutely terrifying. In the morning, when we went up to survey the damage, another tree had crashed just behind our car, and at least four more nearby–it felt appropriate to have been afraid. After Don had chain-sawed the trees blocking the car, I went for supplies at the local grocery store and overheard tales of people still without power. Is that why so many were buying big jugs of water? Probably, just Covid-19 hoarding, since there is still no toilet paper. I filled my cart with some essentials–the dried beans and rice were all gone–so I just loaded up with Fremont beer, a household favorite.
It feels appropriate to be afraid on this Ides of March. In my immediate family, Joy and her husband and two teen-agers are in Finland, with a State Department level 3 travel advisory in place, not certain if they will be told to leave. And, Anna is in bed with a fever at the moment. Their oldest child, my grandson, Fletcher, finds that his University in Washington has shut down the campus until the end of April, and they are told to go home. Except that his home was sold when the rest of the family moved to Finland for six months. My Bay Area daughters have come to the rescue, and he is inflight this morning to self-quarantine in Valerie’s backyard casita. They are all trying to figure out how to do this 14-day quarantine recommendation, and when they feel it’s safe, the current plan is for Don and I to drive out there and bring him back to Montana for the month of April. It is humbling for me to feel this much anxiety, when we are a family with great privilege to weather the storm.
The snowstorm didn’t materialize with the arrival of the arctic front, but single digit temperatures are a shock to the system in mid-March. In four days, it will be the official start of Spring, and spring cleaning should be quite productive this year as we socially distance ourselves from one another and have time at home. It feels like time itself has slowed down with all this sheltering in place. I’ve appreciated just sitting in a comfy chair, with a cup of tea, and talking on the phone with friends and family from afar. Such conversations have nearly disappeared in the age of texting. I was reading the other day about the lost art of “strolling” where you met neighbors after dinner for a leisurely walk together, and how it was possible to carry on a conversation whilst six feet apart. We need to be there for one another right now, as we struggle with our fears, and do our bit as the Brits like to say.
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
—The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne