As if life isn’t strange/weird/crazy enough right now, a big semi pulled into the Winthrop Barn parking lot the other day. Loading my bike into the pickup bed after a refreshing ride on the Chewuch Loop, I watched as car doors opened and humans slowly approached the back end of the truck. Cautiously distancing, the humans stood 10 feet apart and quietly stared. I was sure the truck doors were going to open and a flying saucer would hover out or maybe the Great Oz — something to add to the weirdness.
Curiosity getting the best of me, I approached one of the sentient beings and asked what they were all waiting for. “Food!” he said, “Online shopping from an organic farm in Oregon.” Another chimed in from her 6-foot distance, “The truck used to be a box truck and the crowd much smaller.” Another sign of the times.
I went to the grocery store with my Mazama-made mask and uncomfortably shopped, realizing that the thing most missing in this scenario: a smile. You can’t even smile behind a mask and can only hope that dancing, sparkling eyes convey the humanness that used to be an integral part of shopping at Hank’s Harvest Foods or Methow Valley Thriftway.
By now: I’ve stacked two cords of next year’s wood; painted the bedroom a lovely color called chamomile; finished my 2019 photo album; communicated with all my BFFs from North Carolina to Nevada to Idaho to Georgia to Montana and all points in between; counted 7,700 steps to and from the Mazama Store multiple times; cleaned file folders, closets, bathroom; meditated to an app; dug out a 30-year-old recipe for Basque sheepherder’s bread and was deflated when it didn’t turn out as I remembered.
Now, I’ve added watching movies with talking Pixar cars, running sprints down the lane, and mindfully coloring cats. That’s right — those coloring books that you’ve probably walked by at various stores offer a way to de-stress by coloring detailed pictures of cats or Mandelas or any number of other themes. I’ve decided to color a cat a day for 30 days.
I’ve watched my husband devour Baldacci novels while I struggle through Mark Manson’s latest book “Everything is *** (you know what), A Book About Hope.” Manson explores some existential philosophies such as Nietzsche and Kant — maybe a little too deep for these times.
On one of my walks, I thought about these weeks of social distancing and how, in the big scheme of things, so far, it’s a short time. Anne Frank was in hiding for two years. Louis Zamperini (“Unbroken”) spent 47 days on a raft, only to be rescued by the enemy and spend another 2 1/2 years in a prison camp. John McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a POW. All a tribute to the indomitable human spirit; we can do this.
When life comes back to some semblance of what we considered “normal,” we’ll be knocking down the doors to get our hair cut (it’s been said that in eight weeks 88% of blondes will disappear from the Earth!), get a hamburger and a cold draft beer, see a movie on the big screen, get a massage, and so many other things. Hang on, service providers. We miss you, too!
This week, adding insult to injury, a longtime favorite singer/songwriter of mine succumbed to this heartless virus, which isn’t even a living thing. (According to a Washington Post Health column, “It’s a packet of genetic material surrounded by a spiky protein shell and leads a zombielike existence.” It’s only gone when it decays.)
John Prine wrote prolific, sometimes profound, sometimes jolly lyrics — a song for every mood. As a sagacious 24-year-old, he wrote “Hello in There,” a ballad about growing old: “So, if you’re walking down the street sometime And spot some hollow ancient eyes, please don’t just pass ’em by and stare as if you didn’t care, say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’”
Our local radio station icon Don sent John off with an all-day tribute to his music. I put a radio in my backpack and walked to the river to sit on the bank and listen to all his songs. RIP John. “I guess I wish you all the best” (from his song “All the Best”).