We have been sheltered in place since March 11th, so at the time of this writing, we have been in our home for over 9 weeks, and it looks like there is more to come of this quarantine.
At first we were more than willing to follow the guidelines because the visuals on t.v. convinced us of the danger of this new Coronavirus, especially to those over age 65. But a few young people were also dying from this virus, so, to stay healthy, everyone took the advice to stay home….to shelter in place. For our part, we were forced to give up our much loved part time jobs which we had chosen to do in retirement to remain engaged in society and to fill a purpose.
These days, our days go by without much fanfare. One day is the same as the next unless we decide to go out for a ride for a change of scenery. We live in an urban area on a small corner lot, and we have developed our property into a small sanctuary over the past 22 years. We have created several vignettes, each one with a path leading to it. It is fun because as a person stands on any part of our property, there are glimpses of something of interest just beyond the next corner which invites one to go and investigate.
When I was planning the design of this property, and began planting, I did it in sections. My plan was done with the thought that this would be our retirement playground when we got old. The idea behind it was that if we got bored, we would always be able to go outside and find something to do and something to tend. Along the way, we were gifted with two grandchildren, so some of the planning involved thinking of what they might enjoy. The end result is a nice mix of spaces and most people who come here seem to enjoy what they see.
It isn’t professionally done, so I think that is a big part of the appeal. It comes across as something people haven’t experienced before. It is simply an extension of our imaginings, so when you see our property, you are seeing our inner eye. It is not polished, nor perfected, nor does it include high end costly materials of the type a landscape architect would use when he or she goes to work on drawing plans. Hence, in its imperfection, it is uniquely ours and we love it.
Little did I know, all those years ago, that I would have to use a pick axe and a texas toothpick to break up the caliche rock in preparation for planting. As I imagined us enjoying this space when we were retired, I had no idea that we would be enjoying it during retirement at a time of a world wide pandemic!
We are especially grateful for these outdoor “rooms” now more than ever, not only for the privacy but also for the work they provide for us to do, to keep our minds and bodies healthy. I never go outside where I do not see something that needs a minor trim of some kind. I recently repainted an arbor an apple green and really like how cheerful and inviting it looks.
So, in truth, up to this point anyway, the Pandemic has not caused our life a lot of excess stress with us staying home. We have each other for company as well as the wildlife that have made our property their home.
I went outside yesterday because I had been spending way too much time on the computer reading and watching stories about this Pandemic from endless points of view. Some of the interviews were wonderful because they were a conversation between two intelligent people talking in a calm and thoughtful manner, which was how conversations were conducted in another more civilized time and place. Unfortunately, though, I also came across many that had agendas backed by hate. There are a lot of things I am not happy about with this Pandemic and with how it is being handled, but I don’t feel angry or hate filled because of it. However, I DO feel stressed by the onslaught of angry, hate spewing commentators that make up most of the news in this day and age.
I went outdoors to find relief from this stress, and with small clippers in hand, I began to clip volunteer shoots off the trunks of a line of little Yaupon Holly trees we planted many years ago. I was deep in thought and with every snip I could feel the tension leaving my body. Soon I was completely engulfed in the enjoyment of reshaping these little trees, and at one point, as I was moving a branch in the dense growth of a tree, my attention was drawn to a tiny bird nest hidden deep inside the tree branches, complete with three very small speckled eggs resting inside. I quickly moved the outer protective branch back in place knowing that the Mama could abandon the nest if human touch or scent were left too close. Suddenly, I was brought out of my deep thought by an excited chattering above my head. Of course, it was the Mama bird scolding me for getting too close to her unborn babies.
These 8 little Yaupon Holly trees were planted in a row many years ago, and as I was snipping with my clippers, I had been lost in thought and admiration for how nicely they had grown and filled in. Responding to Mama birds chattering I respectfully moved on down the line, hoping she would see me as a neutral energy that meant no harm to her family.
As I continued from one tree to the next, hand selecting which branch needed pruning, I began to think about the importance of appreciation for where our life is at any given moment, right here and right now. Granted, my husband and I have been affected by the way things are being handled by the authorities, but honestly, we aren’t experiencing the stress and fear that so many are forced to endure. While we would prefer being able to go about our lives as we once did, we are fine with staying home if this helps us add a few more years of life on this planet. We have the resources needed to get us by for the next year if need be.
At the same time, I DO think about those who live with the grief and fear of having their livelihoods yanked away from them. Many of the people who criticize the activists for protesting the shutdown of America are likely doing this because they, themselves, (and their loved ones) are able to continue working from home. Many of those making these decisions are still employed and continuing to collect their paychecks. They may be stressed about being forced to stay at home, but they do not have the stress of loss of income, nor the threat of losing their life savings that went into a business. They don’t have to fear what happens if they cannot make their mortgage or rent payments. They don’t have to wonder how they will feed their families without an income.
We all see this life changing Pandemic from our own perspective which is influenced by where we sit financially in the type of dwelling we live in, what our age is, and how much savings we have. Perspective is actually created by the reality in which we live.
We should ALL be very interested in NOT losing or giving up our rights as described under the bill of rights. A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens. If you are not clear about what these are, it may be a very good idea to look them up. We should want to be very careful about protecting our civil liberties, because once gone, they are unlikely to come back.
I believe that because so many of us in America have been so comfortable for so long, replete with plentiful blessings, we have forgot (or maybe never really understood) why we have it so good. Our country has thrived because of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Very few countries outside the U.S, have a life as good as what we have come to take for granted.
In a conversation the other day I told a friend that I felt sympathetic to a 77 year old Barber I had just read about in the news. The Barber said that he stayed home for 2 months as a courtesy to what the scientists felt was necessary for the good of all. When a third month was added to shelter in place, he picked up his barber supplies and opened his shop because if he stayed closed one more month, he may not have a shop to go back to and he had bills to pay. I told my friend that I could appreciate his concern and understood his need and right to make a living.
My friend said, “Well, people also have a right to not go to his shop.” I immediately agreed with her because this also is true. We all have our individual rights in our free society.
For our part, we will continue to follow all the recommendations because ‘we can‘. It is our contribution to society. At the same time, we recognize that our decision to follow the rules is not the same decision that others will have to make because others have so much more at stake.. These are hard times for everyone, but the outcome for each person will be different. On the rare occasion we leave our house, we wear our masks and our wrap glasses because we know there are likely to be others out there who won’t wear them.
I feel that how this shutdown affects the unemployed and those who have had their businesses shut down WILL have a ripple effect throughout our whole economy with the exception of the very wealthy. They can afford to ride it out. If the stock market crashes, they will have the money to buy low. But the middle class and those living below that level will feel the bite of what is ahead!
I do not profess to know what is best for everyone. Not even close! But, I do feel that in a free society people should be allowed to make their own decisions. I do not think there has ever been a time in our history where healthy people were required to stay home. In the past it was the sick who stayed in doors. Think of the days of tuberculosis! It would all make far more sense to me if the high risk categories of people were to remain in isolation snd protected from those who could infect them. The sick could go to designated places to get better. Everyone else could just go about their business as they see fit. Our economy is dying as fast as the victims of covid and we need to be cognizant of how this will ultimately affect everyone. Inflation has already started if you look at the food prices in stores. Eggs were at $6.19 at one of our stores the other day. Similar increase in cost of goods may end up being the most detrimental result to covid19 coming to our country.
Through my window, I just now saw a bird splashing around in our bird bath. I think I shall go outside and see whats going on out there! I miss my family so much! I miss our friends! I miss our church! I miss my old life! If I make it through this Pandemic alive, I will have a much deeper appreciation for all the things I used to take for granted…lunch with friends, a hug from family, working at a job that made me feel productive, attending church and sitting amongst our church family every Sunday! If there is anything I would pray for, it is that as a society, we will become more love filled than hate filled.
Social media has unleashed in some people a nasty way of communication because they can hide behind their keyboards as they spew their hate filled rhetoric. Why not sit down and negotiate for the betterment of all? I want to go back to kinder times. I want to go to the mythical Mayberry of our youth where life was slow and justice prevailed and lessons were taught in quiet, kind, and thoughtful ways.
I can see now in my minds eye how you might be saying to me, “dream on dear girl…the world is not like that anymore”. I say in return that the good things in life are the result of putting action to dreams! “If you can dream it, you can do it!” So, lets just do it, whatever good ‘it’ may be to you. As they say, we need to BE the change we wish to see in the world. It all begins with me….and you. Baby steps, baby steps…let the white hats of the world gain power in what is good and what is right, for we would all be so much better off.
Now…off to the great outdoors!