Community Reflections #1

Community Reflections #1

Contributor: John Dye


April 4, 2020: Early Saturday morning are special to me. It’s the time I join a group of friends for our weekly runs. We laugh at each other’s bad jokes, talk about our lives and our families and are governed by one rule: What’s said on the road stays on the road. The post-run gatherings over coffee may be the best part, including the weekly bickering over whose turn it is to buy.  Everyone (including me) is healthy and happy, but I’d never forgive myself if I would come down with Covid-19 and unknowingly pass it to any of my friends and their families before realizing I was ill. For now, my runs are solo affairs, but it’s not the same.

Tonight was special as Deb and I sat in on a virtual piano concert by one of our neighbors via Facebook Live. He was great and it was a fun diversion. We, and others judging by the live comments, were pleased he shared his talent.

April 2, 2020: My wife and I returned to the Mohawk Valley from Wisconsin nearly three years ago for one overriding reason – family. We wanted to be closer to my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, and it’s ironic that the social distancing we know is absolutely necessary now seems eerily similar to the nearly 900-mile separations we endured with Deb and I in the Green Bay area and the “kids” in New Hartford.

For just the third time in the past three weeks we gathered – at safe distance – this time in our driveway as the girls rode their bikes in the neighborhood and the four adults talked in the driveway about working from home and establishing a daily homework schedule for the girls while at the same time keeping everyone healthy and actively physically.

No good-bye hugs. No family dinners. No hanging out with Meme and Papa. FaceTime and Messaging have been great, but it tugs at the heart to see them just a few feet away for an all-too-brief gathering and not be able to hold them.

April 1, 2020: Who would have imagined that the simple act of grocery shopping would require such advance planning and caution. We followed all the advice about using disinfecting wipes on the cart and shopping for our needs for two weeks to avoid unnecessary trips. Store staff were working frantically, and with good cheer, to stock the shelves, although there were no packages of toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, paper towels or Lysol spray on the shelves. There were shared smiles with fellow customers as they stood six feet apart from each other. The whole experience was a bit surreal, but at the same time encouraging as the human spirit seemed undaunted in this most simple of shared tasks.

It took as long to unpack and follow all the advice about “cleaning” our groceries as it did to go to the store.  Our garage and kitchen countertops became their own grocery M.A.S.H. units and we scrubbed, sprayed and removed outer wrappings and boxes.

March 31, 2020: What I’m reading: Just finished Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book,” and recommend it highly. Great research and writing style. Working on Doris Kerns Goodwin’s “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” which offers great insights for today’s leaders. On deck for a nice change of pace: Rereading Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man.”

April 11, 2020: Governor Cuomo has directed that flags on state buildings be flown at half-staff in remembrance of those lost to Covid-19, but I have seen some flags flying at full staff in our limited trips around the area. Local governments and businesses may not be required to follow the governor’s directive, but I still wonder why some flags are not lowered.

April 13, 2020: Just how late into the year should you continue to fill your backyard bird feeders? Some argue to take the feeders down by mid-spring in order not to make birds overdependent. Others dispute the argument. I know this: A great variety of birds make their way to our feeders throughout the winter into the spring. They provide great entertainment and we keep guidebooks close by to identify them. For now — for us — the feeding will continue in this shelter-in-place world in which we now live.

April 14, 2020: I wonder how many people tune in to watch the daily televised coronavirus briefings from Governor Cuomo, President Trump and County Executive Picente? Combined, they can stretch into hours. They can inspire, infuriate or sadden, all at the same time. Are parents allowing their children to watch? Does TV somehow distort the reality that more than 27,000 American have died because of Covid-19?

April 15, 2020: With each day the realization grows that the life of our community and the lives of its residents have been unalterably changed. There will be no return to a “pre-coronavirus” normal, but a new normal the direction of which has yet to be determined. I saw this yesterday during our bi-weekly trip to the supermarket. There is more than enough food on the shelves, but variety and selection are limited. More important was the interaction between shoppers and staff. Good will and courtesy continue to abound, and the staff remained hard at work, but the look in many eyes conveyed caution and uncertainty. I am confident we will rise to the challenge of rebuilding, knowing that it will require extraordinary effort and cooperation.