There is said to be an old Chinese curse that goes "May he live in interesting times."
Well, here we are. And, honestly, while the world is very different today from what it was two weeks ago, so far I'm more curious than cursed.
People are frightened, and justifiably so. We are used in this country to being able to go to the grocery store any time we want, to find well-stocked shelves, to be able to go home with whatever we want or need that fits within our budget. We are unquestionably blessed here, and we take an awful lot of things for granted.
Two weeks ago, though, things were strange for those of us who live our lives in plenty. Shelves were bare, not only in the stores we usually shop but in the rest of the town as well. Schools were closed, then restaurants. People were worried, and driven by fear started buying far more quickly than the stores and their suppliers could handle. The empty shelves that greeted subsequent shoppers drove the fear response even harder, and the circle became more grim as the hours went by.
Farmers and ranchers here and across the country have experienced the same frightened rush of customers, and most are in the same position that we are in now... with empty freezers and supplies becoming available only as quickly as plants and animals can grow. We had, in our freezers, chicken and beef adequate to provide meat to our retail customers, as well as four restaurants and a food co-op, until June. Our freezers are empty now, and for the next weeks we will have no solution for the people who count on us.
Here's the thing though.
Through all of this, and after the initial panic, people became noticeably more kind and giving. Moving in public spaces has become a dance, as we let people have room and politely wait as they make their way. We've slowed down, the hurry isn't there, as many of us don't have jobs to rush off to. People are sharing out of their cupboards and gardens, they are sharing music from the ends of their driveways, they are sharing their talents online with hashtags like #covidceilidh and #quarantunes.
And our new heroes and heroines, the front line troops, are the doctors and nurses and medical professionals who live next door.
We will walk out of this, in weeks or months or more, into a world different in many ways than the one we knew before this strange virus made its leap from bats to people. Many of us will lose people we love, and civilization will lose people we treasure. But through the sorrow, I hope that in this new world that follows we remember the kindness, the slower tempo, the relative importance of nurses and teachers and farmers. I hope that the interesting times we are experiencing now will make us more thoughtful, and more willing to understand that there is far more that unites us than divides us.
It's a nervous world right now, but we'll make it through. Smile into your neighbors' eyes, wash your hands, enjoy your family time together and try new recipes and card games. It's a great time to practice a musical instrument, read that book you've been putting off, go through that unending stack of old magazines, clean your closets, go through old pictures, dig out the art supplies you've had in a closet for a decade. Personally, I have a LOT of canning to catch up on!
Keep the peace, folks. We'll be fine. Let me know if I can bring you anything.