Monday, March 30, 2020

we are the lucky ones, riding out the crisis out at the end of a mountain road, with national forest on two sides of us, and enough sunshine and fresh air to kill any virus even if it arrives on an amazon package. the main hazard for us is being so isolated from the social world that we lose all sense of where we are.

by social world i mean the people of the valley and the small town where our kids go to school - in an area of only a few thousand, and a county that hasn't seen a single case, though it stretches from el paso all the way up into these mountains - people are really different from the rest of the country. we read the news - we overread it in fact, being in isolation, and finding it so tempting - and the news, geared toward us, tells us that the virus is overtaking certain hospitals and threatening everyone everywhere.

our ups driver, though, who was our only visitor over the course of maybe three days, feels like the whole thing is overblown. how can you feel it's overblown if it's overtaking whole hospitals, whole cities? well, it's too politicized. like the kennedy center, for example, he says. they make a bill to help people with their rent, and they fund the kennedy center.

his comment was something i could chew on the rest of the day, after i removed a big old stump, and raked leaves, and removed a few more little stumps. i spent the day out in the sun, moving brush to brush piles, and doing my "old man and the stump" routine. of course, i checked the news obsessively, especially for anything about john prine.

john prine, as far as i can tell, recovered. and so will boris johnson, and probably trump and pence themselves, and any number of other people who got it. it's only random old people, and some other random people, who get it and go under. but even this happens unexpectedly, you never know, you can't count on anything.

someone said you can't get it in this county, because they only test for it in the nearby counties. when you go a county over, you become that county's statistic. but someone else said, no that's not right, we can test for it here too. what do i know? i haven't gone to get tested. maybe our fears are overblown about emergency rooms being over their capacity. with all these bars closed, and cars not on the road, emergency rooms are empty. people are in runs of good health.

and this leaves us to wonder: is the whole thing a hoax? or not really all that bad? and these people aren't really dying, or, if they are, just as many would be dying anyway? we are isolated out here - having not talked to many people about what we know, except online, on zoom, we don't have much to go by. and it makes me wonder sometimes if our grip is somewhat tenuous.

we are gearing up for another trip to town. this one will be maybe wednesday. we'll try to get everything we need in one fell swoop - to town and back. it's forty miles to the big (20,000) town with the WalMart, but we'll hit our little mountain community, if we have to, as well. don't know if we'll wear masks; maybe everyone should. there are principles involved here. if something makes you safer, you should by all means go the safer route. in that regard i've been assuming that the virus was here in our county, and has been, and people are passing through regularly, and surely it's been spreading like wildfire. assume everyone's infected; assume you're infected; keep six feet; be grateful to those on the front lines. all those are easy for us. the virus has turned the world upside down, but we, mountain bumpkins, are going along living kind of like how we were, but with less traveling.

there is some aggravation out there that we had to go through this, that the governor shut everything down to slow the spread of the virus, that businesses had to close and people had to go home and stay home indefinitely. teachers are now on us to get us started with salvaging what's left of the spring semester, giving our kids something to think about, something to do, a chance to pass if that will even be possible. we have to rebuild the school year, just like the economy, and take what we've got and build on it. In that respect i feel guilty, as i'd rather pull stumps in the yard, on a fresh and windy day, and blow off, so to speak, all suggestion of schoolwork and suffering on the part of the kids. i could homeschool, i always thought, but i could never get my kids to do what i want them to do, and my wife undercuts me because she's left with so much bad feeling about her father making her do things as a kid. so she'll jump in there and defend them, and in the end it's a bad combination, because they can play one of us off the other. i'm better off with the stumps.

so begins the last part of the school year, and spring blossoms out in the mountains, where we wake up when we are ready, and maybe do the laundry, or clean something up. my wife cooks and bakes like crazy. life is good, with the air in the house full of cooking smells, and even the dogs are happy. they get their walks, and it seems like that helps them sleep better at night. me too - i pull stumps, and my shoulder muscles set in to the bed, and i have crazy dreams. it's coronavirus times. things are changing, and fast, and there's no telling what the news will have for us in the morning.


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