What have you learned? About yourself, I mean, in this new reality, these days of sheltering in place and social distancing.
Our office is virtually deserted, with most people working remotely. Thanks to technology, they can do that without much difficulty. It also is safer for those of us that do come in to the office; the fewer people the better.
What have I learned so far? That silence can be deafening. That it is sometimes so quiet in my office in the building that all I hear is the clock ticking. If someone dropped a pin, I would probably hear that, too.
Most days, I have the radio on, tuned to an all-news station because that’s just the way I am and – my other choice – live sports play-by-play just isn’t available right now.
Trying to limit my trips as well; most days it is just to the office. Still trying to remember everything in one shopping trip but as usual, there is typically something I forget and then have to wait until the next trip or, if it is a necessity, go back.
I get nervous now when somebody moves up too close behind me in the checkout line at the grocery store. Is that bad? I’m thinking that they put those lines of tape on the floor for a reason; stay your six feet behind me and wait until my items have been purchased before you get yours on the conveyor belt.
I try not to go down aisles with people in them; if there’s another shopper I will either circle back to that aisle or wait until they exit. So strange.
Also, I am temporarily staying with my daughter and son-in-law, who is probably in a little bit of shock; he didn’t even have time to get the mother-in-law house built in the backyard. We have a running joke that someday, he will build me a yurt and I will live on their property. Someday came sooner than expected; luckily, they have a guest room and it isn’t a forever move. The three of us are among those people still going to work (Ally and Judd intermittently, but still out there) so it made sense for me to relocate during this time and stay with them.
The dog (who relocated with me) still needs to go for a walk so we enjoy our morning quiet time together out on the very empty-of-traffic streets. There are vehicles but our route takes us past the back side of a school that would normally be packed with busses, kids and parents walking in, the crossing guard making sure everyone arrives safely. It is eerie to see it empty.
More than once I have crossed the street there to begin our route back to the house. One day, I pushed the in-street lighting just so it had something to do, blinking for the dog and I to cross even though there were no cars approaching from either direction.
So we are walking in new territory for the dog, covering something outside the norm. Which, for her, means lots of new smells to sniff out, lots of new cats to bark at. She has adapted quite well and is very definitely seeking out those cats she knows are along the route, hiding behind this fence or trying to camouflage themselves under that hedge.
One morning, we went out to find it had rained overnight and she was like a little kid, the one that has to splash through every puddle. Then, we saw a crow in the roadway, eating at some crumb of food and of course, she barked from afar and gave her best ‘I’ll get you’ growl – the crow flew off but landed on a telephone line a few houses down the street. Thank goodness the bird’s timing was a little off – the deposit it made dropped on to the sidewalk just behind us … guess the dog really ticked the bird off but we escaped the unexpected dropping by a step.
So onward we go; moving forward, not looking back and counting the days until we can all gather and enjoy being together without six feet of separation.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.