Oct 21 2020

Urban Nature

Published by at 6:08 pm under Animals,Coronavirus Journal

I wrote in my last post about Ma having partially lost her vision, leaving her unable to read or see details. Great news: little by little her sight has been returning. It’s a slow path, but now she can process most of my email messages when I send them in a giant bolded font. She can’t read this, though.

Back in March, many long months ago, I used to say, “I don’t care if I get Covid. I just don’t want to give it to anyone.” I really meant it at the time: not worried about myself, but worried about others. I was naive. I have changed. Now I’m afraid for me, too. The more information that comes out about the long-term effects of the illness, the more I have to fight becoming like my beloved grandmother who lived through the 1918-19 flu epidemic and was ever after terrified of the germs of strangers. I’m actually not getting pathologically fearful, thank goodness, but I’m sure trying to avoid a first-hand experience.

These days I rarely get outside still because it’s still such a pain to have to navigate around other pedestrians on the street. When I do venture (masked) off my property and have to make wide slaloms around everyone I encounter, I also hold my breath and turn my face from them as I pass. For some reason, I also avert my eyes, as though that would help protect me from their potentially disease-ridden emissions. When I encounter the maskless, or those with it below their nostrils, I continue to seethe silently, cursing at them from behind my own mask.

Though masks are a real pain, wearing them does have ancillary benefits. Like, as I just said, you can mouth a curse at someone and they’ll never know. Also, I happen to have chronic congestion and can’t get enough air through my snout. So when I’m wearing a face-covering, I’ve realized that my mouth is often hanging sloppily agape so I can breathe better. But I’m the only one who knows. It’s also great that a mask obscures my prominent chin, so I can jut it as much as I want to and nary a soul will call me things like “Needle Chin,” which would not be a first.

My primary exercise these days comes from pacing a loop between my bedroom and the living room, from back window to front window. Sometimes I wander out to my small backyard for a change of scene. Recently, one of these butterflies dropped by for a minute:

[Royalty-free photo from Wikimedia]

I was disappointed to learn its name when I found it online: the Common Buckeye. I’d have said it was anything but common.

And then I observed another wee butterfly that also turned out to have an unremarkable name: a Cabbage White. The one I saw, I learned, was a girl because its spots were close together on the upper wings, like this:

[Royalty-free photo from Wikimedia]

And of course the squirrels are ever omnipresent. Oh, sure, they may look cute enough, but they seek only to destroy. This one faced off with me for quite a while before skittering off to wreak havoc elsewhere.

Late-breaking news: I just took a walk around four flat blocks with Elana. Boy, am I out of shape. She spotted this monarch up in a what I guess is a bottlebrush tree, and we both took pix with our phones. Here’s my best one.

The days are getting shorter fast and the end of daylight saving time is just around the corner, in ten days. I don’t have backyard visits with friends very often as it is, but I’m dreading when we’re all confined inside by weather and early darkness.

Being [involuntarily] unemployed, the challenge of each day is finding a way to get through it: to entertain myself in relative isolation. After I finished helping TJ with her hillbilly music show a few weeks ago, I once again had too much free time. So I proposed an idea to her: When I was twelve at summer camp at the foot of the Teton mountains in Wyoming, we played a game around the campfire called, “The Pot Boiled Over.” Someone would reach into her imagination and start to weave a tale, adding details, until she declared, “…and the pot boiled over.” That was the cue for the next person in the circle to take up the story and add her own contribution. The narrative was complete when it had passed its way around the group. So TJ and I started a literary version of the activity, but without the chain of people. It’s just the two of us. I began the saga with:

In a leaning shack nestled deep in the West Virginia hollers, along whose steep slopes vine-tangled trees grow thick, lived the Dillos: a couple of no-good middle-aged brothers and the only person they ever loved: their mama. Tall and lanky, with deeply hooded blue eyes, the Dillo boys were known around those parts as trouble…

Sixteen installments and eight-thousand words later, there has been abundant mayhem, and murder too, no doubt a reflection of these crazy times in which we’re writing. The project has been a great antidote to the real-life daily news. Plus, I miss West Virginia a lot, so it’s been a blast to transport our imaginations back there, and to use as fodder some of the actual local characters, like the Dillo boys.

For a couple weeks my next-door neighbors have been painting their house a lovely two-tone grey. All the while, my Subaru has been sitting in my driveway between our properties. The painters have diligently covered it with plastic wrap each time they sprayed. Except for today. Now my shiny four-year-old car is speckled with a fine layer of tiny pale grey dots: on the roof, on the windshield, on the hood. No amount of scrubbing removes them. I know it’s just a hunk of metal, and that this is a classic first-world problem, so… I guess I just have to let it go. But, damn.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Urban Nature”

  1. marianna says:

    about daylight saving time. on a walk with arnold and stephen just now it was our subject of conversation. i said as long as people refuse to wear masks and wear them the correct way, i will not accept daylight saving time. make me!
    i do the same stuff with the same thoughts under my mask in public.
    i would not let the car paint job go, sorry. they must have insurance and your car can get a new paint job, a good one.

  2. Syd says:

    So glad for Small’s slow visual improvements. And my dear! You made me laugh out loud (SUCH a rare treat) with your masked musings…. “Also, I happen to have chronic congestion and can’t get enough air through my snout. So when I’m wearing a face-covering, I’ve realized that my mouth is often hanging sloppily agape so I can breathe better. But I’m the only one who knows.” I have been doing my dance class masked, sans glasses (since they steam up), and am so glad no one can see my open maw gasping for air. 14 days…..and the pot boiled over.

  3. Molly says:

    Exercise: LET’S do a remote yoga class together! I don’t even like yoga that much, but I’m hardly exercising either, and both of us ought to. Yeah? Yeah.

    I love all of your urban nature photos & explorations! Those are some wonderful Lepidopteran sightings.

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