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.
As we transitioned to spring, the Covid-19 warnings began ramping up.
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.
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.
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…
And soon the supply of meats at the grocery store was taking on a North Korea vibe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were able to adopt Finley, a Golden-Doodle because my sister-in-law, Katy, had a spare rescue dog at her house.
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.
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.
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, of course, we discovered the wonders of Zoom, a service so ubiquitous that the brand name became a verb.
Pretty soon, though, Zooming became so embedded in life that more was needed to move the excitement needle.
We supplemented the excitement of pandemic dogs and pandemic Zooms with the purchase of a pandemic canoe.
Finley loves car rides, so we thought he might like to ride in the canoe as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
McKenna, who at ten is old enough to be embarrassed by her parents, was unable to take this error in stride.
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.
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.
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.”