March 18, 2020
I had expected, just a few weeks ago, to be taking a flight over to Heathrow/Dublin for a three-week holiday. Meeting up with my cousin from Montreal for a week in a quiet seaside cottage in Ireland and, later, over to England to meet other cousins that we had never met.
And then COVID happened. From a devastating problem in Wuhan, China, it has spread across the world. There is still so much conflicting information about it—how deadly IS it to people with “normal” health? Is it better to get it and get it over with? Or are we condemning thousands, perhaps millions of elderly and fragile people to death if we don’t enact the kind of measures that haven’t been seen since World War 2. A time when most of us were not yet born.
I have often thought that it’s ironic that this worldwide pandemic comes at a time when those in the Western world who would remember quite clearly what it is like to live under war or pandemic conditions are mostly gone. So perhaps it is up to us, who remember our parents’ and grandparents’ stories about rationing and staying close to home, about living a much simpler life, to lead the way back to that simpler life.
I keep thinking that my life has merely been inconvenienced so far. Yes, I have had to cancel my trip but I should be able to use the airlines’ credits in September. The restrictions should be lifted by then. I have plenty of books to read, words to write. I have Internet. Although there has been a run on food staples in our town, we have stored enough to make it through for awhile.
This virus could actually change things for the better. We who are so blessed need to realize why we are blessed, without any selfish pride, just realize that we were lucky to have been given good information that we could follow. And we could be sensitive to those who live on the edge. We could help them from our own surplus if we can or give money to those organizations that have the expertise to help in a concrete way. Instead of fighting in WalMart over the last package of toilet paper, we could step back, remembering the 40 rolls we already have.
It’s quite a challenge living in our modern world but I can’t help but feel our ancestors are looking down and saying “We coped, you will too.”
May 14th 2020
What do you say about an epidemic that has changed so much of life? I look back to what I wrote in May and, oh my. At the time it seemed that the virus was like a flu. A bad flu, yes. But was it going to affect our lives? I didn’t have a clue about how much.
On March 18th I wrote about how my trip to Ireland had been cancelled and there was a shortage of toilet paper and ground beef in the stores. But we hadn’t yet been given the “stay at home” order. That changed on March 31st when the Arizona governor said that only essential businesses would be able to stay open. There was some confusion at first as to what an “essential” business was but it eventually came down to groceries, pharmacies, hardware stores and doctor’s offices of course. The big hardware stores were allowed to remain open which meant that their garden centers could remain open. Something that proved a boon for my husband and myself as we turned to desert gardening.
Neither of us is very knowledgeable about keeping plants alive in the desert. Richard loves to watch gardening shows but they are all about European or English gardens. Very different from here! Every morning after I walk the dog I go out and check the moisture in the soil with my trust meter and water those that need it.
I get up early every Tuesday morning and go “senior shopping” at the grocery store. No more Saturday shopping for me, I avoid the crowds and, since two weeks ago, I wear a mask. We’ve been advised to do so although it’s not mandatory. And today the governor has said we can go out “carefully.” They’ve said the same thing in England. Everyone is quite nervous because the virus is far from over but the economy of most countries is tanking. Governments feel, and there’s been a lot of agitation in the United States in agreement with this, that things have to reopen or we will slide into a worse economic depression than we are already in.
Given that the U.S. has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, I can’t blame other countries for not wanting American tourists. And as for traveling overseas, yes, technically I could fly over but I would have to self-isolate for two weeks.
So, while I would still like to think that I will be able to go to Ireland in September, the reality is right now, who knows? Give it another month, things will become clearer. Life is quiet, time will tell.
July 30, 2020
After an appalling rise in June here, there is some news that the virus is supposedly weakening. Masks are now mandatory almost everywhere. But there are so many conflicting stories, just as there were in May. Although there are more cases in our town, the percentages are still quite low. There are more people in the shops. Looking at the obituaries in the paper—shades of my parents!—I have only seen 1 where the death was acknowledged to have been due to COVID. Am I living in a fool’s paradise? I am aware that the virus is “out there” but, as of yet, it hasn’t impacted me personally. Will it stay like that? Still, time will tell.
(c) Valerie Ackroyd