by Nancy Peterson, 06/22/2020, Northport, MI
For me, life in the time of corona has been an incredible gift of time. While I cannot be with loved ones face to face, I am carving out time to Zoom and FaceTime. I am talking more on the phone, reaching out to those who are near but inaccessible, and also those who live at a distance. I am writing cards and letters. I am reading more, writing more, tending to my house and property, cooking, baking, and gardening. I am taking long walks with my dogs – infused with a new appreciation for the companionship and love they provide.
For months I was seeing very few people, so my ‘circle’ was small. My boyfriend and I relished our time together, both of us appreciative for the company of the other, and for our new groove. Mornings we meditated, did yoga, had breakfast together. Many days we played pickleball at the outdoor courts in Northport, sometimes just the two of us, other days with a couple of locals who were following recommended protocols. We were outdoors, socially distant, and we sanitized our hands and the balls.
Then he and I would return to our respective homes, filling our days, leisurely, with painting and writing for him, writing and projects for me. Our days were full, but this was the most relaxed I’d been in 30 years. My pre-corona life was a blur of activity, trying to cram in as much as possible on any given day. Suddenly, there was nowhere I needed to be, nothing that had to happen now. I still had plenty to keep me busy but reveled in the open-ended time in which to do so.
The only other person with whom I had close contact is a friend who I took to the emergency room back in March. She fell and thought she’d broken both her wrists. That was right when restaurants were closed and people were asked to shelter in place. Given our car ride together, we figured we were now part of each other’s circle. We saw each other every day, for long walks on the beach or in the woods, often for pickleball, both grateful for the other.
I am a seasonal worker, and the restaurant at which I work is always closed for March and April. I filed for unemployment back in February, planning to collect for just two months. I had three seasonal jobs lined up which were to start in May; now it is clear that only of those will come to fruition. All of the iconic summer events in my county – and beyond – have been canceled, so who knows what sort of a tourist season we will have. The stimulus check and unemployment took financial fretting off my plate for a few months.
My little village of Northport seemed like more of a ghost town than ever this spring. Every trip into my village was a reminder of just how much had changed. Turning onto Waukazoo Street and seeing not one car or person, it seemed as though The Rapture had happened and only I was left behind. In early May our few restaurants started offering limited curbside service as summer residents began trickling back into town, many earlier than they would have otherwise.
I am back at work at one of the restaurants. The staff are wearing masks and sanitizing early and often. Customers are required to wear masks for service, although it’s somewhat of a mixed bag: people obviously can’t wear masks while eating or drinking, and I have no choice but to interact with them anyway. And, a fair number of people, based on overheard conversations, just rolled into town from Arizona, or Florida, or downstate, or wherever. Still, life goes on, and I find peace in this knowing that I’m being as careful as I can without holing up like a hermit.
What I hope to hold on to when the dust settles at some point is Leisure. I am reminded of the importance of this in the closing lines from W.H. Davies’ poem of that title: ‘A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.’ And, in the words of Leo Tolstoy: ‘In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.’ Davies and Tolstoy: I’m on it.