“Why are people avoiding us?” asked Buddy, my standard French poodle the other day. He speaks English, French and Bark!, but I only speak English, so he humors me.
“And why are we avoiding them?”
We were on one of our walks – not the short ones, during which we focus on his immediate needs: watering fire hydrants and the like – but a long walk, which focuses on my needs too, like getting out of the house!
During these Coronavirus times, we walk past a closed up park and into town, past still mostly shuttered shops, and then back home via neighborhoods that are usually quiet, but now are really, really quiet.
I love the peace and quiet, not getting honked at or, for that matter, almost run over by speeding commuters, and having a chance to muse.
Occasionally we will pass someone else walking a dog, or maybe a couple. There are awkward “Good Mornings!” or something appropriate, usually muffled by our masks. As protocol now requires, we veer away from each other, leaving not just the required 6 feet, but maybe double that. We humans follow directions when we have to.
Buddy stops and looks at me. “It’s got to be something about you. I’m just as handsome and cuddly as ever.”
I patiently explain the Coronavirus, and the fact that keeping distance is the only protection we have until they find a cure or a vaccine.
“Bien sur”, he says. “Is that why you yell and rant at the TV so much now?”
Did I mention I’m really tired of walking my dog?
This whole “stay at home” thing is getting boring. It’s been going so long even the boredom is getting boring.
That’s one reason all those less congested states are opening up, or trying to. When Georgia and others opened up their economies, not too many people came. At least that’s what the news said…until the other news denied it.
I don’t know what’s worse, news about the Coronavirus, which I can do nothing about, or news about our President’s latest tantrum, which I can do nothing about. This whole thing is like a bad TV movie with two villains and no hero.
What I need is a commercial break. Commercials are great breaks from bad movies.
Like the best history book I’ve been reading, These Truths, by Jill Lepore. It’s very dense and so full of cool facts you can’t just breeze through it, which is great, because it takes me away from the news.
And brings perspective. For example, you know who was a really bad President? Andrew Jackson. He warred on Native Americans ruthlessly and cruelly, because they weren’t white. He was also notoriously rude and crude.
Woodrow Wilson was also racist, very arrogant, and so disliked he couldn’t get the Congress to approve something all of Europe wanted after WWI: the League of Nations. We helped win one world war, but didn’t have the leadership to prevent another.
Anyone else connect the dots here?
Here’s a really cool fact: Before Watt invented the steam engine, before oil and coal produced that steam and started the Industrial Revolution, most people didn’t think of work and home as two separate places; they worked out of their homes. Store owners lived in the back of their stores. Farmers simply went out the front door to work in the fields. Doctors lived at home and made house calls.
A hundred plus years later, it’s starting to look like deja vu all over again. We’re working from home. Doctors are tele-doctoring. Stores are delivering. We’re zooming instead of commuting.
And it’s not been all bad. It’s actually had some positives.
In two months the earth’s carbon footprint has dropped by 17%. You can see across the English Channel on a good day again. The canals of Venice have fish again.
I stop and stare at the blue sky for a minute. In a hundred or so years, we humans have gummed up the air, poisoned the water, killed off hundreds of species, and filled the oceans with our garbage. Talk about leaving a campground worse the we found it.
I wonder if the Coronavirus is Mother Nature’s way of saying, “knock it off or I’ll knock you off”?
I start walking again.
“Bark!” says Buddy, stopping suddenly, jerking me backward as well as breaking my thoughts. He has left a small token of our walk on the sidewalk.
“Excuse moi…” I say, as I clean it up.
As we head for home, I wonder if human race will, too.