Life Changes During a Spring Pandemic

Over the past winter, the strangest event that I have lived began: the Coronavirus Pandemic. It started quietly, with news slowly filtering in from other countries. Details were so sparse that I, and most people that I knew, just assumed that, like the seasonal flu, the coronavirus outbreak would dissipate once people began going outside more in the spring. At the end of February, life was going on as normal.

Let’s celebrate at this overcapacity table by eating food out of these communal dishes!

As we transitioned to spring, the Covid-19 warnings began ramping up.

TWENTY WHOLE SECONDS?!?!

The day I spend 20 seconds washing my hands is the day craft stores employ bouncers to limit access like they are some kind of exclusive club.

Oh.

The concept of “social distancing” began to catch on, for sane people anyway, finally ratifying the philosophy of interpersonal relations that I had lived my entire life by. COVID-19’s contagious nature led schools, offices, and even playgrounds shut down.

I am pretty sure, however, that the years upon years of accumulated germs on this equipment would beat Covid in a fight.

By late March there were only a handful of confirmed cases of Covid in our area, but it was already impacting people’s sanity. COVID19, a virus that targets respiratory function, led to a run on…

…toilet paper.

And soon the supply of meats at the grocery store was taking on a North Korea vibe.

“In the long ago, we would eat the flesh of chickens and cows. And when we digested that flesh, we would clean the waste with fluffy paper. So say we all”

Because Laura is on an immunosuppressant and would be more severely impacted by the virus than most people our age, for a long stretch we stopped going inside grocery stores, mostly ordering our food for pick-up. This system was actually amazingly well-organized and effective, but there were frequently odd things that our “shopper” could not find. As a result of shopper error, for a month our family believed that there was a national shortage of rice noodles.

There was not a shortage of rice noodles.

Services that were good before the pandemic often became a little shaky, and services that were a little shaky before the pandemic became virtually non-existent. On April 17, I called Verizon to update our internet service because our old package was becoming obsolete, and their service window lived up to everyone’s expectations of telecommunications companies in America.

Wow, they fit it the same calendar year.

Clearly, we had entered some sort of post-apocalyptic world where I had to rely on a mere dozen backup rolls of toilet paper like some kind of cave man and where marauding bands of hoverboarders and unicyclers roamed the streets of Woodlake.

It’s the resourceful people, people who can find unicycles during a pandemic, who survive.

We were just going to have to rough it with normal high speed internet rather than super high speed internet. Thankfully, we still had Netflix to ease the pain caused by this sacrifice.

Et tu, Netflix?

Now that we were saving time since no longer had to take McKenna to after-school activities or, for that matter, drive a car anywhere, we found that we had a lot more time on our hands. To ensure that the downtime did not cause the kind of stress that might inspire someone to join a Woodlake unicycle gang, we found some family appropriate boardgames.

At least one pandemic was effectively contained in the United States this April.

In addition to having a good deal of leisure time, we also knew that we wouldn’t be traveling as much over the summer. Laura filled this void by unintentionally participating in a nationwide pandemic fad: pandemic pet adoption.

A far superior fad to pandemic child-conception.

We were able to adopt Finley, a Golden-Doodle because my sister-in-law, Katy, had a spare rescue dog at her house.

She keeps the spare dogs next to the unicycle.

Before long, a new hierarchy had been established in the household.

We also had more time to explore our neighborhood. It turns out that there are some nice bike trails.

This represents the steepest grade of hill that McKenna is prepared to ride down.

We were even able to upgrade McKenna’s bike with a hand-me-down generously provided by a neighbor. With the upgraded bike, McKenna made it to the community my parents are moving into at the end of this summer.

At this point, about two and a half miles from our house, McKenna began to panic that we wouldn’t have enough water. NOT PICTURED: The grocery store 100 yards away that was stocked with water.

We weren’t the only ones exploring, and the trails, particularly those around the lake, could be pretty busy. Fortunately, in our explorations we discovered the secret Woodlake lake trail.

And even if you find the secret trail, we may or may not have had Finley create a minefield on it.

And, of course, we discovered the wonders of Zoom, a service so ubiquitous that the brand name became a verb.

Hey! We are Zooming!

Pretty soon, though, Zooming became so embedded in life that more was needed to move the excitement needle.

Like Zoom piano recitals…
…Zoom “Talent” shows…
…and Zooms illustrating the psychological damage caused by isolation and loneliness during a pandemic.

We supplemented the excitement of pandemic dogs and pandemic Zooms with the purchase of a pandemic canoe.

Canoe trips were more acceptable to McKenna than biking trips due to the ready supply of emergency water.

Finley loves car rides, so we thought he might like to ride in the canoe as well.

Looks like somebody needs a therapeutic Zoom beard session when we get back to safe, dry land.

Aside from virtual visits through Zoom, we were still minimizing human contact, and back home, toilet paper wasn’t the only thing in short supply.

On the plus side, the spring weather was amazing. The weather was so nice, we had left the patio umbrella up so that we could eat dinner outside on most days.

This led to a surprising discovery: it’s windy in the spring. Sometimes, wind and umbrellas don’t mix very well.

This is one of those times.

Replacing the umbrella was complicated by the fact that, with the nice spring weather, stores like Lowe’s were perpetually in this state:

We opted instead to repurpose yard furniture that we already had.

And to avoid the umbrella-less patio from 11am-3:30pm, when the direct sun would melt us into the pavers.

Having our umbrella shatter a glass table was a mere inconvenience compared to what some people had to put up with.

The nice spring weather indirectly led to other complications. One evening, when, predictably, we were Zooming, we smelled what we thought was gas. We have a gas furnace and fireplace, and we could not track down the source. Our neighbors smelled the same thing, so we brought excitement to the cul-de-sac by calling the fire department.

Finally, a break from my monotonous bourgeois existence.
This was even more exciting than the time Laura broke the neighbor’s main irrigation pipe.

We had consulted the wrong neighbors before calling the fire department because it turned out that what we were smelling was coming from the neighbor’s yard on the other side: they had recently found some kind of fungus in their compost heap and doused it with an anti-fungal. It would seem that committing fungicide on that scale can release quite a bit of gas.

Oops.

McKenna, who at ten is old enough to be embarrassed by her parents, was unable to take this error in stride.

If I stand over here, no one will know that I am part of this family.

One of the changes in daily life caused by the virus was the widespread wearing of masks into stores, doctors offices, and the like. It turns out that wearing masks for long periods is hot. After several internet searches, we were able to get some inexpensive but lightweight masks.

And we could return to mortifying McKenna in public places.

Our more adventurous family members and friends indicated that going to grocery stores early on weekdays was relatively safe, which meant we relied on “shoppers” less frequently and got necessities straight from the source.

“Necessities”

Still, even by summer things were a long way from normal. Our local swimming pool had implemented a unique form of social distancing, with members signing up for “lanes.”

Sucks to be you, people with no way to get out of section 2.

One thought on “Life Changes During a Spring Pandemic

  1. Pingback: Mandates, Musicals, and More in Caseville, Michigan | Endless Odyssey

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