Lately it feels like I’m stuck at a cabin somewhere in the middle of the woods without a car. It’s been raining every day, my provisions consist of junk food and the beer’s gone.
It’s actually worse, of course, because the sun does shine, I have a car and I don’t drink. There’s nowhere to go so I’ve taken “distancing” walks which are like short escapes from prison. Crossing the street back and forth to avoid other walkers is weird and the walks seem forced, not spontaneous.
The daily reports of coronavirus cases and deaths are like the weather report of a bad storm destined to hit us eventually. We watch the horizon for its approach as we float in a sea of statistics, percentages, and what-ifs. We heap praise on those on the front lines facing almost certain infection. We grieve for those who have lost loved ones to the virus. And we anticipate “funeral months” when we can again gather to show respect for loved ones who have died from any cause during this pandemic.
I’ve mentioned that Catherine and I would like to know if we’ve already had the virus since we had many of its symptoms in early February. Now, it seems, everyone I talk to has had the exact same symptoms. Hmmm. We all want to know we’re over it and are immune. It’s probably wishful thinking but it gives us hope. If only we had a simple test that actually gave trustworthy results.
Thankfully, life for me is still eventful enough to occasionally take my mind off the pandemic. While most of the Red Wing Community Ed courses were canceled due to the virus, one course I was registered to attend was not. The course, “Electric Cars: The Why and How” was presented via Zoom from instructor Bill Gehn’s electric car, parked at the free charging station in a downtown parking lot. How cool is that?
Bill, an electrical engineer at the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant and a renewable energy enthusiast, described how the new driving technology works and his experiences with it. He provided us with a log of a trip he took to Arizona that showed every stop he made to recharge his car and what distances he was getting between charges – like mpg. I was impressed. Surprisingly, I learned a lot over the internet for a class that requires a substantial amount of show ‘n’ tell. I’m now just that much closer to buying an electric car.
In the mean time I’m getting some battery-powered transportation experience with the new electric bikes Catherine and I just bought at Red Wing Bicycle Co. I’ve been looking at them for awhile and we decided to add them to our bucket list. At our age we need all the help we can get on the hills in Red Wing. Now I can ride right up Hennings Avenue. Seated. I will next attempt to ride up Memorial Drive seated. A full report will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, we’re now wearing masks in stores. Most places require them. I was ashamed of myself for not wearing one when I happened upon Susan Johnson at a store recently. She practically wrote the pandemic plan for Goodhue County when we both worked there. I promised her I’d start wearing a mask.
So many things are changing that you have to think twice before doing anything. Which stores are open? Do I need a mask for drive up service? How far am I allowed to drive from my house? Will there be any meat left at the grocery store? How many stores and restaurants will survive this? What will shopping and dining out be like when this ends?
There’s a lot of unfairness in all of this. It’s hard to imagine being told to go back to work where many of your co-workers have been infected. Many low paid workers in businesses deemed essential have to choose between working in unsafe conditions or lose their jobs. They are ineligible for unemployment compensation. They face that while many higher paid workers can work safely from home.
Suppose the economy is opened back up to everyone before a vaccine is available. Who’s going to a restaurant first? What if only those who have passed a test for immunity are allowed to go back to work, eat in a restaurant or fly on a plane? This could be a new form of discrimination. When there is a vaccine, what if the government requires getting vaccinated before you are allowed to enter businesses? What if you object to getting the shot?
This is starting to sound like a letter to my mother Bea who left us seven years ago. Huh, maybe it is. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
This reminds me that we’ll be visiting Catherine’s mother through her first floor apartment window at her assisted living facility. Happy Mother’s Day, Char!
Happy Mother’s Day, Catherine! I’m sure our kids will FaceTime with you Sunday.
Then we’ll see what next week brings.