This spring is one for the ages. There are so many things I want to remember but life moves too fast.
As someone who usually works from home, I often seen the same people every day. There is an older man who goes on a daily run. He stops to catch his breath in the middle of the street outside my house. Sometimes he waves at the neighbor’s cat before he takes off again.
There is an elderly Japanese woman who has always walked every day with her daughter. One day the daughter stopped accompanying her… I wonder why. I haven’t seen the old woman in a long while and I hope she is okay.
Birds I see: Chickadees. Starlings. Bushtits. Scrub jays. Hawks. Mourning doves. Robins. Hummingbirds. Peregrine falcons. And of course, crows. The crow versus squirrel fights have escalated to epic heights. My money is on the crows.
More people are running these days — perhaps because the gyms are closed, or maybe out of boredom. I am proud of those I see who are trying a new lifestyle. One woman especially, I don’t know her but she is working hard and getting stronger. We all need a little more strength these days.
The park is closed, but there are always a few things going on there. There is a guy we call The Wizard. He goes to the basketball court every day, sometimes playing one-on-one basketball against his inner demons for hours. People sleep, sometimes in tents out of necessity, sometimes on multi-colored Pendelton blankets to soak in the luxurious afternoon warmth. Neighborhood kids can’t wait to meet their pals again and they walk laps around the park block, hoping to catch sight of a friend. The loss of communal spaces has certainly left a hole in our neighborhood.
There are two things we can count on every day: the incessant drone of leaf blowers as bored homeowners find ANY activity to keep busy. The other constant is the mail carrier delivering notes and packages.
This spring has been good to the plants. I talk to my neighbor across our fence, he also predominantly works from home. Our conversations turn to our fruit trees, especially the cherry tree that overhangs his back yard. We talk about how much fruit set this year as opposed to last. The apples and pears are also coming along nicely. He has two stands of Cascade hops that he trains to make a screen on his front porch. The vines have already reached the roof of his pergola, giving him a break from the afternoon sun. It seems like spring came early this year. We laugh about how we could start our own Farmer’s Almanac.
My chickens are an interesting neighborhood focal point. People stop to check them out, maybe chat them up a bit. They are very social and love the attention. People are getting stir crazy and have taken to wandering by the chicken run as the evenings grow longer. I hope they keep it up, even after all of this.
The saddest things I see are the loneliness, the fear, the heartbreak that people wear like cloaks while wandering through town. It hurts to walk around our neighbors instead of stopping to chat. People are having a tough time and the loss of emotional connection makes it all seem so much worse. Family members die alone. Lovers split up under the pressure. The lonely become lonelier. There was a woman we used to see at the neighborhood pub. She always went by herself, pushing her two terriers in a doggie stroller. She would order a beer and sit on the patio to people watch. Where is she? Is her loneliness a heavy burden?
And the FEAR. The ANXIOUS LOOKS. Who will get us sick? Are WE getting someone else sick, unknowingly? It is always in our minds. We get angry at those who aren’t taking it seriously. We worry at every new symptom. We stress out over our seasonal allergies, our kids’ coughs. The worry keeps us up at night.
My brother in Boston said that the city is a ghost town. The only vehicles on the streets are ambulances and Amazon vans.
My uncle in England is ill. I worry for him.
My sister-in-law in Puyallup works at an assisted care facility. We worry for her.
Through it all, people find love and have families. It is weird how life goes on, even during the deep pause.
Back to my street. In the last few months, I have seen families riding bikes together. Little children kick off their training wheels, to the delight and squeals of their proud parents. The twenty-something skateboarders make intricate videos, rolling on mostly deserted streets. Last week, I watched parents rollerskating with their teenagers. Teens having fun with their parents! These are strange days indeed.