Families were asked to send their sons and husbands and fathers off to fight Nazi Germany. Soldiers who were shipped overseas were mostly young men, some still teenagers. They not only faced the possibilities of death, wounding and capture, but also exhaustion, disease, bad food and water, lack of sleep, mud, lice, rats, perpetually wet feet and more – things I can’t even imagine.
None of those men came home unchanged. Many didn’t come home at all. Some came home forever broken physically and/or mentally.
Today’s enemy, coronavirus, is terrible too. Plus, it’s invisible.
But all we’re being asked to do is to stay home.
For the most part, we’re being confined in comfort. We have electricity, heat, air conditioning, clean hot and cold running water, books, TVs, radios, cell phones, Internet service and more. We’re closeted with our own families, even our own pets. We can cook full meals, bathe, do laundry, read, surf the Internet, text, talk, email, watch movies and play games – all in comfortable, familiar surroundings.
This quarantine has unappealing side effects. I’m not denying that.
I have been walking around my suburban Detroit neighborhood every day for the last week, looking for the upside of quarantine. A few observations:
Dogs. Dogs are hands-down winners in the coronavirus lock-down. Dogs can’t believe their luck! Suddenly, their people – those to whom they are devoted and those they love unconditionally – their people have chosen to hang out with them all day long, every day. Definitely a tail-wagging situation.
Dogs get taken on walks by their people, sometimes twice a day. Walks are leisurely. No more “Hurry up and go; let’s get this over with.” No more short leashes. Dogs get to mosey around and sniff things – the damp grass, that cute Lhasa Apso who lives on the next block, the pepperoni stains in a discarded pizza box, a strange new cat in the neighborhood, that hedge close to the edge of the sidewalk that reeks of local daily news, even the tantalizing trails blazed by the nocturnal wanderings of local raccoons and opossums.
Children. Younger kids also get to hang out all day with parents who are bending over backwards to entertain them. Annoying rules have been pushed aside. There’s some schoolwork for sure, but there are also new games and new learning opportunities.
(Teenagers probably don’t think of this togetherness as a positive development. Maybe some do, but don’t want to admit it.)
Traffic. Less of it. I don’t have to look both ways when I cross a street.
Flowers. Yellow and purple crocuses and delicate white early snowdrops are pushing up in gardens. Some have migrated and are populating crunchy brown spots on lawns. Daffodils are working their way to the surface. Tree buds have begun to swell.
Friendliness. Every single person I encounter on my walks smiles and says “Good Morning,” or “Hi” or “It’s nice to be outside, isn’t it?” or something equally positive. We’re all trying hard to be optimistic while observing the six-feet-away guideline.
Trees. I’m about to plant a new tree on my front lawn where I removed a dead magnolia last fall. I’m paying attention to trees growing in other people’s front yards. I was considering another magnolia or a dogwood or something that blooms in the spring, but after yesterday’s walk, I’m leaning toward birches, especially river birches. I counted 10 river birches in a four-block stretch. I like their messy, curly, undisciplined bark.
Relationships. Most of us are getting better with relationships, I think, because of this enforced togetherness. My favorite Facebook post concerning self-quarantine is supposedly from a woman who claims she came home home last week to find a strange man reclining in her La-Z-Boy. She was shocked and surprised. “He claims he’s my husband!”
Phone calls. If you call someone, they’re sure to be home.
Candy Crush. I’m up to level 1017!