As we wade deeper into the silence of isolation and the uncertainty of the rabbit hole we have collectively fallen into, there is some solace in hearing how people locally, across the country — and even in hard-hit Italy — are faring.
Here in Mazama, where the Mazama Store is the hub of activity, longtime employee Annie says from the other side of the walk-up window, “We are doing the best we can.”
With concern for employees and customers, owners Missy and Rick LeDuc were quick to respond to this unprecedented time with a walk-up window where customers can pick up groceries, food and sundries they have ordered by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (996-2855), or at the window (menus of what is available are posted on a bulletin board by the window). While I sat outside the store after a Lost River bike ride the other day, a steady stream of customers rolled up to the window. The most frequent purchase I observed: six-packs of beer!
“It is actually working really well,” Missy said. Employees are continually sanitizing surfaces, washing their hands and wearing gloves when touching food. She hopes that customers will support local artists and food vendors, too, as their products are available for the asking through the portal.
A bright spot: The store will soon have veggie and flower plant starts from Okanogan! Keep checking Instagram and Facebook for updates.
Betsy Cassell-Thomas, owner of Intertwined Designs in Mazama, has responded to the current reality by closing her studio to customers, sanitizing after deliveries, adjusting her return/exchange policy, and offering free shipping until further notice.
She shared a story of the times: “I have a local Mazama customer that has a shirt to pick up. I asked her if she wanted me to mail it or leave it in a bag at the front of the studio. She responded, ‘how about I pick it up while I’m doing the Highway 20/Goat Creek Road bike loop?’”
While some of the younger pleasure-seeking generations revel on beaches in Florida, believing — as youth is wont to do — in their immortality, others nationwide are heeding the social distancing required to stop this deadly virus from inexorably marching slipshod over the entire country. Innovative and tech savvy, a group of tight friends in Seattle gather together for digital happy hours using Google Hangouts.
In San Francisco, a wine salesman who has found himself sequestered at home without orders from his shuttered restaurant customer base, has filled time watching VHS tapes of old college basketball games, preparing time-intensive, ingredient rich meals, and calling old friends. He learned from his college roommate, whose wife is from China, that her parents live one hour from Wuhan and, at the time of the phone call, had been confined to their apartment for 10 weeks.
A young mother and her spouse from New York City packed up their apartment and infant and moved to the husband’s hometown of Homer, Alaska. She wrote: “Woke up in south central Alaska at once terrified by and in love with life. I woke up mournful for New York but proud of my difficult decision to consciously extract my son from its current chaos and to instead surround him, during his first year of existence, with the cozy aroma of wood fires kindled by his Papa, the calm of not-yet-trodden snow and the refuge of trees assembled like elders.”
A few years ago, a bicycle shop in Alba, Italy, arranged for a local resident to guide my husband and me around the Piedmont area on road bikes. He spoke only a little English, but we got on famously and climbed the hills of the spectacular Northern Italy wine region with him at our lead. “Allé, allé,” he would say in French. Let’s go. Let’s go. I communicated with him recently to see how he was doing with the devastating demise of his country.
Translated from Italian: Things are pretty worrisome. Can’t leave home without good reason. It could get worse and the military could impede anyone from leaving home. We hope this pandemic ends. The bicycle is stopped. A huge hug to you.
Our diverse community is hurting in many ways — jobs lost, businesses struggling, angst mounting. Virtual hugs all around.