Not too much sun today on Sunday, on our isolated rural slope looking out on the woods from my project room window. Rumor has it, a major storm is coming.
As I write, YouTube is broadcasting the Easter service from Washington National Cathedral in DC. Not having been a regular churchgoer for the past 40 years, I only learned last week that churches are remote-sharing their services. So, it occurred to me to see if the Episcopal Cathedral might be doing that and of course it was! How bizarre to see the entire empty church on Easter Sunday with 46,000+ people worshiping remotely. Watching the empty cathedral with its handful of clerics, listening to familiar Easter organ music, I felt empty of jubilation. I enjoyed celebrating Easter as a child and young adult, but the prayers and Biblical readings of the season no longer spark joy in my response. I felt the sadness in my online view of the vast cathedral in which throngs of participants usually cluster but cannot now because of the malignant microbe.
Since TV news is not a feature of our lifestyle, we get our covid-19 information online, from the major news sources that have a track record of integrity and honesty in reporting reality. Or at least, reality as understood to the best of the journalists’ abilities. Our son works as an engineer on the USNS Mercy, docked in LA for the time being. Our daughter is also in California, working from home as a therapist. Her clients are often homeless with no access to the electronic capabilities that most of us take for granted, but everyone seems to have a phone of some sort, so they can communicate with therapists and service providers. My brother is hunkering alone in his apartment in lower Manhattan, interacting socially but remotely with everyone he knows. What a great service, Zoom. He is the strictest observer of physical distancing that I’ve heard about. He will survive.
The news is dire, but here on our slope, spring is early, and we watch the transformation of the forest with red buds, dogwood, and other trees whose names and blossoms I continue to forget. The forest floor is popping up those tiny ephemeral flowers that require me to step carefully. The first bear of the season, looking scrawny and small, wandered by our critter cam up the slope above our house late one night this week. This year, we are not traveling, so we can witness the entire uninterrupted transformation of spring on this mountain.
In our rural county, there are still only a handful of positive covid-19 cases. Just this past week, the post office hung a clear plastic shower curtain in front of the desk, and only one person at a time is allowed into the inner room where the desk is located. Everyone is supposed to wear masks when out in public – the grocery store, the liquor store, Dollar General, the hardware store, the post office. Not everyone is doing so. I began sewing masks for us, using quilting fabric that’s been piling up in my stash for decades.
For four weeks now, we have stayed home except for grocery runs, post office, and the title company where we refinanced our mortgage two days after our last plane flight on March 11. Thankfully, we have had no symptoms of illness since our early March week in Montana. Virginia has many covid cases, but they are clustered in the northern part of the state near Washington DC, in Richmond, and on the coast in Virginia Beach. Here in our rural county, where we have so few cases, we wonder what the future holds, and how long we’ll be restricted to home.
It’s a surreal existence, tethered to our devices, walking about in the forest where no other people converge, exercising at home, meditating, cooking, and occasionally venturing out but stretching out those excursions from weekly to seldom. It’s only the grocery store or the post office. We are waiting, wondering, checking in with family and friends, Zooming every two weeks with our immediate relatives spread out across the country and on that ship. I’m tired of reading the news. We are so fortunate to be retired in a rural area with things to do in a house big enough for both of us but cozy enough for comfort.
Meanwhile, spring advances up the mountainside. Rain falls. And the stream comes to life, roaring.