still sheltering

After a couple of months sheltering in place, and despite a rising coronavirus death toll, states are beginning to open again. Folks are lining up to get into their local barber, salon and drive-in. I heard that the ice cream stand up the road a spell was packed last weekend. I'm beginning to see groups of kids riding bikes together. Glorious weather is drawing neighbors outdoors. And while I miss our friends terribly, and long to gather with them, I'm still skittish.

Some folks are comfortable hanging outside in small clusters, their chairs spaced at what is thought a safe distance. Others are bringing childcare workers back into the fold. Many have continued to visit their extended family members—parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, in-laws. Some families have been "quarantining together" with other families all along—albeit not under one roof—citing their trust in one another despite evidence that wider circles exponentially increase the risk of getting the virus and spreading it to others.

Sunday, when I visited my friend outside for the first time since autumn, I kept my distance. He sat on one end of his ample porch, I on the other. When he sneezed, I pulled the collar of my jacket over my nose, envisioning the droplets hitching a ride on the wind. For months he's been receiving visitors on a daily basis, some of them frontline healthcare workers, others employed in various essential businesses potentially exposing them, and him, to the virus. So visiting him makes me a tad nervous.

As I watch the news unfold, I wonder how many of the brazen gun-toters protesting government shutdowns know that perhaps as many as half of infected people experience no symptoms while actively shedding the virus. Have they heard that small droplets can hang out in the air eight minutes, perhaps longer? Do they understand that wearing a mask is meant to protect others? When I explain to people why I am keeping such a distance, I wonder if they think I'm too zealous. Do they get how vulnerable Calvin is, or what a clusterfuck we'd be in if Michael or I were to get seriously ill? I mean, who would take care of Calvin if we were laid up, or worse? These questions lead my thoughts to little Charlotte Figi, a girl a lot like Calvin who died last month from complications of what was undoubtably Covid-19.

I feel there is so much we still don't know about this thing. We don't have a vaccine. We don't have a decent treatment. Immunity may be elusive; five sailors who fully recovered from it have recently become reinfected. And so, even though I'm eager to visit friends and host gatherings of our lovelies, for now I'll keep sheltering in. I'll continue to spend my days taking lots of short walks around the neighborhood and long car rides near the water with Calvin. I'll keep spending my mornings savoring time to myself in the woods walking Smellie and in the garden soaking up the beauty of flowers, hummingbirds and bumblebees, and dreaming. I'll keep looking forward to evenings with my husband who, thankfully and for a multitude of reasons, is the best person with whom I could ever find myself in quarantine.

Simpson's Point

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