(With thanks to TL and LR for a great line.)
Curfew, Waikiki Beach.
Although we ended our quarantine in Nova Scotia yesterday, we have functionally been in quarantine since our grandchildren left Hawaii for Nova Scotia in mid-March. The self-isolation in Laie was not significantly different from quarantining in Annapolis Royal. Masks and rubber gloves, mopping with bleach, waving Mahalo to distant Laie fishermen and surfers and mouthing Thanks to Nova Scotian neighbors when they drop off groceries and books are de rigeur on both the island of Oahu and the peninsula of Nova Scotia. Adherence to the rules governing social distancing was no more casual in Laie than it is in Victoria Beach.
In truth, social distancing among surfers and fishermen in Laie and artists and fishermen in Annapolis is neither a foreign concept nor, for the most part, viewed as much of an imposition. Rural residents wherever they are not as addicted to the wealth of opportunities to meet and greet in the same way that urban audiences at concerts, major league sporting events, museum openings, and cocktail parties are.
We will miss our Saturday Farmers Market, Version 101, for sure, but it’s likely we will adapt to a new, sadly scaled back Saturday Farmers Market 201, come June 1. The latter is now billed as a Food Hub with pick up orders, a far cry from the weekly celebrations with farmers, artists, tourists and toddlers. No more socializing, music, spontaneous hugs, and hours spent exploring long rows of booths and tables for the very best produce, the most exquisite handicrafts, snacks ranging from sushi to BBQ and the most spectacular baguettes and other baked goods in the region.
Even simple rituals we’ve taken for granted are at risk. Sad 2020 graduates who purchased their prom dresses and celebratory finery back in January are forced to devise clever Zoom photo ops and mock graduation ceremonies that belie their disappointment.
They, like their parents and grandparents are coping with disappointments large and larger. Small wonder. Most of them have grown up on dystopian literature and films and are just happy an evil Donald Sutherland is not forcing them to fight to the death for the entertainment of crazed, blood thirsty audiences. Still, those lovely grown-up gowns are a rite of passage and now that rite has been set aside for on-line classes and graduation certificates received via e mail.
A friend who has known me for almost a half-century suggested that social distancing is a mandate tailor made for me. It fits like a bespoke leather glove lined in velvet. I can name a half-dozen friends for whom this might also be said. Which is not to say any of us has, in the exhausting past, shirked our duty to be a contributing volunteer and civic activist. Nor that anyone enjoying a schedule with NO daily appointments and meetings and the wonders of solitude is indifferent to the context in which we can indulge in reading, gardening, naps, painting, listening to music and letter-writing without guilt.
Doing anything without guilt pre-pandemic was pretty much a gift from God. Very few people prior to the global pandemic felt they spent enough time with their families, made enough money, exercised and volunteered as much as they should have, visited their parents often enough, practiced a second language, contributed enough money or sweat equity to their favorite nonprofit organizations, worked hard enough to advance their careers, attended the appropriate cocktail parties, ran 10Ks for charity, weeded their gardens, made fresh pasta from scratch or saved enough money to bribe top ranked universities to place their kids on varsity rowing teams.
‘…social distancing is a mandate tailor-made for me. It fits like a bespoke leather glove lined in velvet.’
NOW, many of these activities warrant a reprimand or fine which, in my view, is really good news. Absent the context, that dreadful, evil and heartbreaking context, I applaud all the people that now candidly admit spending a little TOO MUCH time with their families is a mixed blessing. Young parents now view pre school programs and organized after-school activities like a no-interest mortgage. I also admire the legions of people now happy to have an excuse to avoid the gym and cocktail parties where good sense means tossing a few belts back before responding to monologues about politics South of the Border and lectures on environmental Greenwashing.
It’s really amazing that a killer with the capacity to destroy the lives of thousands of innocent people around the globe has ANYTHING to recommend it. However, in point of fact, communities I read about, even communities in which I live, are quieter, kinder than they were prior to the pandemic (which is saying a lot), more thoughtful and deliberate, and endlessly creative about how they use their newfound gift of TIME. Some people are learning new languages (on line), others have discovered the joys of baking, exercising with TV fitness gurus to guide them, and/or are writing books they’d planned to write for at least three decades. A friend’s sister now living in the Australian outback is taking voice lessons on line with a well-known Aussie soprano. Am not sure if she’s ready for Carnegie Hall but apparently her operatic training has enhanced her breathing capacity and her posture.
As that wise man Fats Waller once observed, “One never knows. Do one?”
Well, Fats, what one does know is that today, climate warming is demolishing our defense systems, combining an unimaginable loss in biodiversity with reckless deforestation and aggressive conversion of all empty space for economic development. We have opened the Gates of Hell and apparently facilitated the spread of killer diseases. And this may be just the beginning.
Still, it’s difficult to wake up almost any place in rural Nova Scotia in the morning or bathe in the warmth of a scarlet sunset at dusk and be totally distraught and heartsick. Perhaps Maritimers will be able to keep on keepin’ on a little longer knowing they are nurtured by Nature and by neighbors whose first reaction to bad news is to kick it squarely in the okole.
“One never knows. Do One?”