SUR-REALITY – May 2020

By Buffy Calvert

We are living in strange times. “Surreal,” my Goddaughter said. She has set up 3 stations in their family room for her husband, herself, both working from home, and their daughter who works online on both college courses and a part-time job. Their high school senior is set up on the kitchen table finishing her classes and mourning the loss of her Prom and graduation ceremony. “We’re bored!” the girls cried. “Try baking,” suggested their father. They grabbed a cookbook, yeast, flour and butter and sent me photos of beautiful, delectable breads fresh from the oven.

Another friend and her 2 teenaged daughters fled a tiny NYC apartment for their roomy house in Andes with a grand view. They plundered the library on the last day it was open: DVDs, stacks of books, the whole 7-book series of Harry Potter! The older girl is starting an online Harry Potter Club for her little sister and her friends.

Joi Brundege relishes walks on Perch Lake Road. She is clearing out her garden plots and cheering on each tiny plant that pokes up from the dirt.

Theresa Reynolds says, “I miss the delight of having our year-old granddaughter, Penny, every day to babysit. A pure delight! Sometimes Jenny and Eric bring her over to play in the yard so John and I can see her.

“My favorite place to sit is the front porch where I drink in the beauty of the pond and the hills beyond. We are so blessed to live where God’s handiwork is all around us.”

Another friend started out gloomily, “I just sit in my chair watching TV, play word games on my cell phone, read a book.” Then she brightened. “Today I went for a walk to see my neighbor’s gardens and had a social-distance chat with someone I didn’t know. We discovered we have a mutual friend!”

One mother has found it challenging to have both children home. But she is up to the challenge. Rather than just handing the assignments to her first-grade daughter, she is really reading with her and planning their days together: time for study and play, for meditation after eating dinner together, topped off by a family movie. She realized that her son was keenly missing the start of baseball with his team and she and her husband are helping him keep up his skills.

Both parents are still working: he as a so-essential truck driver, she as the part-time IT person in an otherwise empty office. They decided to make the Easter Bunny more like Santa and gave super special gifts to each child to expand their horizons during the hiatus.

She comments thoughtfully, “I want to make the most of this time, to come out of it with a family who loves each other better than ever. Perhaps this is what America needed: A pause, to slow down, to focus, and to eat dinner together.”

As for me, I am haunted by the vision of the lepers in Biblical time, shunted outside the village, wearing torn clothes and disheveled hair, and crying, “Unclean, unclean!” to warn off passersby. Who is the leper? Since I can’t bring myself to fear anyone, I can only keep my neighbor at an anti-social 6 feet to protect them from me.

But how I miss seeing people close at hand—the choir, the LitWits, friends who come to the door, to the library, the dump, church. Thank Heaven for the Gazette staff. We sort ourselves out at a great distance (and miss gossiping), but at least we interact!

I walk on the school grounds—eerily silent without the effusive cries of the children—but if I’m lucky, I’ll greet from 30 yards or so a mother and her toddler on the jungle gym or a bunch of guys in shorts kicking a soccer ball. ~