Since the beginning of March I’ve watched the shadow of Corona Virus spreading across the globe. It’s like watching a storm build, tentatively finger its way across meadows, arroyos, and hills, darkening the sky, then the earth below, and finally surging like a Tsunami across the landscape.
On March 23rd, the Mayor of Boise announced social distancing restrictions that meant all restaurants had to close dining rooms, and groups of more than 10 were prohibited. Two days later, after the first community transmission was made public, the Governor of Idaho announced a state-wide stay-at-home policy to last at least 21 days: dining rooms throughout the state closed, groups of no more than two household members, six feet between strangers. Today is day three of the order. Stupidly, officials and most of the press are referring to social distancing, which is a misnomer. With all the social media available to us, there is no need to socially isolate ourselves. Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace each other from a distance. Virtual hugs are as physical as we can get for a while. We are practicing, physical distancing.
I cherish the peace and quiet—the result of less traffic, no parties, no drunks stumbling home after the bars close. It seems even the dogs are quieter; maybe they relish having their humans close? As human anxiety grows, animal anxiety diminishes. From my perch by the window, my view has shifted, from the now-and-then snow-covered mountains in the distance, to blossoming and leafing of trees that obliterate the long focus, but offer solace and the renewal of spring. Solitary walkers stroll by, often in the company of a dog or three. Occasionally a couple strolls by or a parent with a child, everyone eager to get out off the couch, out of the house, and into the fresh spring air for a bit of much needed exercise.
Families are learning how to be families—sometimes for the first time in their lives. Parents struggle to entertain and tutor their children while also working from home and trying to cooperate with spouses whom they don’t normally spend so much time with. Some predict a baby-boom nine months from now. I suspect there may also be an uptick in divorces. I hope I’m proven wrong. Perhaps couples are learning to forage for food and to cook that food at home, together, savoring the results of their work while recognizing how much cheaper and healthier it is to eat home-cooked rather than dine-out.
Gyms are closed. A young neighbor makes strategic use of the curb as a solid platform for jump squats and other fitness maneuvers. I’ve been contacted by and have contacted a range of people via various messaging platforms. By checking in with each other, we strengthen ties, whether across town or across the ocean.
Grocery stores have taken on an apocalyptic atmosphere: shelves are barren of paper and cleaning supplies; shoppers proceed cautiously, timing their journey down each aisle to avoid proximity to other shoppers; anxiety furrows brows in checkout lines that are augmented by six-foot gaps; eye contact is rare; dawdlers earn disgruntled stares.
We have just crossed over into the twilight zone.
Video credit: Greg Pepper