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The Corona Diaries: Time to Be Alive

By Bill Caton

A gentle rain fell on this cool, late-spring day and two geese moved in the creek that glides through Homewood Park. Up the creek, and then back down. Silent. Only a slow wake marking their time with the water.

Ann and I had the time to eat a picnic lunch in our car and watch the geese and the creek and listen to the rain because the Novel Coronavirus quieted the clamor of our important daily lives.

We are fortunate to be able to work from the safety of home, so our experience of the last few months has not been as difficult as it could have been. We miss being together with our families and hugging grandchildren. We miss being with our friends at church and teaching Sunday School for five-year-olds. We miss visiting with the good people at all the small local places – Devinci’s, Diplomat Deli, Ranch House, Golden Rule, Savages and Demetri’s. This disruption has been jarring.

It started for us in early March when we watched from the car as our son and daughter-in-law picked out dresses and shoes from Jack n Jill and Sykes that the children would not be able to wear to church on Easter. Evelyn, with the wisdom only a three-year-old can possess, said to her one-year-old sister, Mallory: “Granny and Poppy are trapped in the car.” So different than when we bought another granddaughter, Caroline, her first Easter dress there 10 years ago.

Days slipped away and we often found ourselves confused and angry. It was like breaking any habit, I suppose. But we started building small things into our lives. We began streaming excellent Bible studies and services from Trinity United Methodist Church. We can no longer go inside Devinci’s on Wednesday nights so they drop a pizza in our trunk that we carry home to eat. The same with our other haunts where we have come to know the proprietors. This separation is difficult, but these kindnesses provide their own depth of community.

Bread, cookies, coffee cake from Savage’s. Meat from Mr. P’s. Barbecue from Golden Rule. We even have a new friend who does most of our Shipt-shopping for us. She found some excellent Easter candy and of course we shared some of our marshmallow eggs with her. We were unable to get disinfectant wipes for several weeks, so she gave us some of hers.

We visit with Evelyn and Mallory from the car and leave them treats hidden around the yard. We ache to hold them, but we have fun. Every Sunday night we have a Zoom meeting with children and grandchildren from Auburn to Philadelphia.

Ann and I play cards and talk. It occurred to us that in our nearly 40 years of marriage we have never spent this much time together. And so this virus and its deadly consequences has given us something we could not have imagined in our earlier busy lives – space within our time.

I have started planting and taking care of flowers and herbs on our deck and sunroom. It no longer seems like work. I tear mint leaves and drop them in to brew with the tea bags. Potatoes get fresh chives.

We are separate from friends and family, but closer in many ways than before. We “visit” like my grandparents did on Sundays. Just spending time. We leave cookies on porches to let folks know we are thinking about them. We even drag up chairs to sit in friends’ yards to talk from a distance and the time seems precious.

There is beauty in pace. Not leisure, but space to expand into the spring air, into the world where we actually live, the world outside our minds. There is danger in this world, but there is sun, birdsong and breeze. There is time to turn off the TV, open the doors and listen. Time to walk outside and gaze at the trees, the bees and the blooming flowers. Time to stand in the itchy grass in the heat and humidity of our South. Time to be alive in this living world.

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