Living in Society

Bittersweet March

First time crossing the bridge in 2021.

A year ago yesterday the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. It has been a weird year.

March is full of anniversaries: March 7, the governor activated the state emergency operations center for COVID-19; March 8, the state hygienic laboratory reported the first three Iowa cases of COVID-19; March 9, the governor signed the first Proclamation of Disaster Emergency Regarding COVID-19; March 24 was the first Iowa death attributed to COVID-19; and March 29, the president extended the federal stay-at-home order until April 30. That’s in addition to the historic anniversaries like the beginning of spring, our daughter’s birthday, and recurring tasks of the month to begin planting for the garden, return to farm work, and sweep sand from the road in front of our house to use next winter.

The good news is our families and the families of friends well-survived the pandemic, thus far. Now that production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has ramped up, there is a chance for every adult in the U.S. to be vaccinated by the end of May. That would make Memorial Day something worth celebrating.

How has my life changed during the last 12 months? There are some obvious ways. I left work I had been doing for others. My last day at the home, farm and auto supply store was April 2, 2020, then I did not return to the orchard in autumn or to the farm in late winter this year. I haven’t eaten at a restaurant — either dine-in or take out — since my friend Dan and I had lunch at Los Agaves restaurant on March 13, 2020 — no bars or coffee shops either. I started checking the air pressure on the auto tires because we went weeks without using one or the other. I moved all the neighborhood meetings to telephone conference calls and participated in any other groups to which I belong via video conference ( I am not a fan of Skype and Zoom meetings). I perfected a recipe for home made pizza and read 66 books. I began riding my bicycle. One of the few things that didn’t change was work in the garden, although it benefited by my being at home more.

There were less obvious changes:

  • Using up the pantry and freezer.
  • Reduction in food variety.
  • Wearing holes in my socks.
  • Laundry once a month.
  • Taking naps.

In beginning my autobiography, I wrote a lot of words. The value of the project has been considering where I came from and who I have become, with an eye toward the future. It is a fit undertaking for quarantined times.

The emotion I feel after a year of restricted activities is of longing. I’d like to get back to in-person society and social events. We are heading that direction with the Biden-Harris administration. It can’t come soon enough.

I don’t know if a celebration is in order. These anniversaries are more like the terrorist bombing of Sept. 11, 2001. We don’t like them but feel obligated to mention them. And so, it goes, in Big Grove Township.